Headache or Migraine – How to recognise the difference?

Headache or Migraine – How to recognise the difference? Different kinds of headaches provoke different symptoms. Several types of headaches exist, and the most common types are throbbing, pulsating, oppressive, one-sided or two-sided headaches. Many patients do not distinguish between headaches and migraines, which is why they often receive no treatment for their condition.


The causes of headaches are usually related to mental stress or muscle tension. Furthermore, lack of fluid intake, time pressure, insufficient sleep, and/or poorly ventilated rooms can trigger these symptoms. The triggers for migraine include the neurotransmitter serotonin, hormonal factors, disturbed sleeping, stress and nutrition. Usually, migraines are provoked by a combination of several factors.

Avoid triggers

Stress-related headaches are best treated with relaxation exercises, outdoor walks, and rest. Even cold compresses on the neck or forehead can be very helpful. Individuals suffering from migrains may find headache/migraine diaries as their most effective solution; these diaries are available free of charge in certain pharmacies.

Treat headache

Any headache occurence should be taken as a warning signal. If your body has been under a lot of stress recently, try to slow down and relax until you feel better. In case of infections that cause high fever and headache, or if headaches occur several times a month, it is necessary to visit a doctor.

Migraines and their different forms

Migraines are differentiated by medical professionals; two most common types are migraines without aura and migraines with aura. Most individuals suffer from migraine without aura. In addition, aura is a term used to describe neurological symptoms such as blurred vision or dizziness.

Symptoms of migraine without aura

As a rule, migraines are unilateral, increase gradually during the day, and can last up to 72 hours. The pain is throbbing and gets worse with exercise. The most common side effects are sensitivity to light and noise, nausea and vomiting.

Symptoms of migraine with aura

Migraines with aura are characterised by pain, but also neurological symptoms such as blurred vision, speech disorders and sensory disturbance or paralysis. In case of visual disturbances, individuals see flickering, luminous and jagged appearances. Sometimes, they fail to even recognize faces or their entire field of view is hindered. Hallucinations and light flashes are also possible manifestations during migraines. Sensory disturbances occur in non-pain affected body parts and are manifested as tingling in feet or hands, ear noise, and/or dizziness.

Migraine in children

More than 5% of all pre-pubertal children suffer from migraines. These migraines are short lived and not as intense as in adults. Typically, the accompanying symptoms are dizziness, vomiting and nausea.
Recent studies show that around 10 million people suffer from migraine in the UK. It is estimated that 5–25% of women and 2–10% of men experience migraines.

Treatment options

Although migraines can not be cured, therapy with the right medication and other measures can help relieve the symptoms. Thus, it is of a significant importance to focus on migraine prevention and symptom relief.

Massages for headaches and migraines

Increased everyday stress may lead to one often consciously or unconsciously experiencing head, neck and shoulder tension and stiffness. Massages are an effective way of relieving these tensions, while massage is also helpful for relieving headaches and migraines. According to medical examinations, the classical massage has proven to be particularly effective. Back and neck area can feel less tense, which ultimately leads to decrease in headaches and migraines. Before using any medication, consult your doctor or pharmacist. Painkillers can only make the symptoms disappear for a short time. Headache and migraine causes are deeper and internal, which can be significantly alleviated by gentler methods, such as massages.

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