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Is it a Migraine, or a Headache?


More than 37 million Americans suffer from migraines. However, an untold number of people do not know whether their reoccurring headaches are really a migraine, or not. Less than half of all migraine sufferers have received an actual diagnosis from their healthcare provider. In order to officially declare whether a person is suffering from a migraine or not, the best plan of action is to see a medical professional who can safely assess and diagnosis you. If you are debating whether or not to see a medical professional, consider reviewing some key information about migraines and headaches that we’ve pulled together for you.

What is a headache? defines headaches as “unpleasant pains in your head that can cause pressure and aching. They can range from mild to severe pain and usually occur on both sides of your head.” Headaches, like migraines, can manifest themselves differently. Common examples of headache variations are tension headaches and sinus headaches.

What Is a Migraine?

Medical professionals characterize migraines as a headache of varying intensity, often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. The National Headache Foundation states that migraines are one-sided, pulsating pains of medium to high intensity.

Often, but not always, migraines are preceded or accompanied by Aura, which is usually “visual symptoms such as flashing lights, zigzag lines resembling forts (known as “fortification spectra”), or blind spots in your vision.” Aura can last anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, or longer.

Difference between Migraines and Headaches?

What differentiates migraines from headaches is that migraines are defined as “at least 5 headache attacks, lasting 4-72 hours.” The key difference is that a migraine means multiple successive headaches within a short period of time, or prolonged, intense headaches.

Common symptoms of migraines are usually nausea, vomiting, pulsating pain, sensitivity to light and sound, sweating or cold hands.

What to do in case of a migraine or headache attacks

Whether you experience frequent headaches, or intense pains which might be a migraine, the most important thing to do is contact your healthcare provider. They alone have the best method of treating your migraines.

For more information on migraines and headaches, feel free to send us an email at

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