7 Signs You’re Having a Migraine Instead of a Headache

It is common for a patient experiencing migraines to let it pass as a normal headache. Afterall, it’s also headache pain. However, there is a big difference between the two and knowing how to differentiate a migraine headache from a traditional headache is vital in helping you get faster relief through the right treatments.

In the United States alone, around 12% of the total population suffers from migraines according to the MedlinePlus. And out of this 12%, three times as many women as men experience them. Seeking out professional treatment for migraines or frequent headaches can help alleviate the effects of this condition.

Here are 7 vital signs to tell that you are having a migraine instead of a headache. But first, let’s see what the difference between a migraine and a normal headache is.

Difference Between a Migraine and a Headache


A headache is an unpleasant pain in the head that can cause aching and pressure. Headache pain can range from mild to severe and typically occurs on both sides of the head. Common areas where you can experience headaches include the temples, forehead, and back of your neck. There are different types headaches but the most common one is a tension headache. A typical headache can last anywhere between 30 minutes and a week.


migraine, on the other hand, is an intense or severe recurrent headache that features other symptoms other than just normal head pain. People with migraines will often experience pulsating headaches on one side of the head. Their pain can be intensified by physical activity, but their symptoms often vary from one individual to the other as well as from one episode to the next.

7 Common Symptoms of Migraines

1. Aura

Some people with migraines will often experience aura. The most common auras are visual and include flickering lightslines or spots. They often last between 5 minutes and an hour, and then an hour after their occurrence, the headache pain begins. However, some patients do experience auras but with no headache thereafter.

2. Throbbing Pain on one Side of the Head or Both

An intense pulsing or throbbing headache pain, as opposed to the mild and dull pressure of tension headaches, is a common sign of migraines. The throbbing is often localized and felt on one side of the head. An online survey by the National Headache Foundation on patients with migraines revealed that 50% of the patients “always” experienced the throbbing pain on one side, while 34% “frequently” did.

3. Pain Behind the Eye

Eye pain behind an eye, often one eye, is another very common symptom of a migraine. You will most likely confuse a migraine with eye strain. But even when you have your eyes checked, the headache pain will still persist.

4. Pain in the Neck

In the same online survey, the National Headache Foundation found that 38% of the migraine patients “always” experienced neck pain during their migraine headaches, while 31% “frequently” did experience it too. A throbbing pain in the back of the neck is a common sign of a migraine and should not be ignored.

5. Light, Sound, or Smells Sensitivity

If you experience some sensitivity to sound or light when having a headache, it could be an indicator of a migraine. Many patients often experience their headache pain intensifying as a result of bright lights or loud noises. It also happens with certain odors for some patients, particularly when they encounter strong perfumes.

6. Pain Intensifies with Activity

If your headache pain intensifies because of a routine activity such as running or climbing up the stairs, it could be a signal that you have a migraine.

7. Watery Eyes of Stuffy Nose

Some people with migraines also experience sinus symptoms such as droopy eyelidsstuffy noseclear nasal drainage or tearing. A study funded by GlaxoSmithKline found that nearly90% of all patients having migraines complained of sinus headaches.

Ways to Prevent Migraines

Prevention is always the best way to go about any medical condition. As for migraines, some of the best ways your doctor may recommend include;

Relieve Migraines from Experienced Advanced Back and Neck Chiropractors in Chandler Arizona

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s time to take control and have a professional look at your case. The earlier you receive treatment the better. With a chiropractor at Advanced Back & Neck Care in Chandler, Arizona, your situation can be carefully checked and treated with regard to your unique situation. Contact us today!

Dr. David Voyer

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