Pain in head anatomy

Migraines vs Headaches: Understanding the Differences

Migraines and headaches, while often used interchangeably, are distinct conditions that require different approaches for management and relief.
By the team at Speedoc,
June 15, 2024

Headaches are a common ailment that many people experience from time to time. They can range from mildly annoying to intensely painful. However, when it comes to migraines, the experience is often more severe and debilitating. Understanding the difference between migraines and regular headaches is crucial for effective treatment and management. 

This article will delve into the distinctions between headaches and migraines, their causes, and tailored solutions for easing the pain associated with both conditions.

Differences between migraine and headache




  • Some individuals experience aura, which includes vision distortion like flashing lights or blind spots
  • Often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, noise and smell
  • Characterised by intense, throbbing pain, often on one side of the head
  • Can last from a few hours to several days


  • Common types include tension headaches and cluster headaches

  • Usually, pain is not accompanied by other symptoms

  • Typically manifest as a dull, aching pain

  • Can occur on both sides of the head


  • Hormonal changes, particularly in women (e.g. menstruation or pregnancy)

  • Certain foods and beverages, such as aged cheeses, alcohol, and caffeine

  • Sensory stimuli like bright lights or strong smells

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Stress and anxiety

  • Weather changes


  • Stress and tension

  • Sinus infections

  • Poor posture

  • Dehydration

  • Eye strain

Lady at work with headache or migraine rubbing her temples

Tailoring solutions to ease the pain

Lifestyle Modifications


  • Hydration: Ensure you are drinking enough water throughout the day.

  • Posture: Maintain good posture, especially when working at a desk or using electronic devices.

  • Regular breaks: Take regular breaks to stretch and relax your muscles if you are sitting for prolonged periods.

  • Stress management: Practise stress-relief techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.


  • Dietary adjustments: Identify and avoid foods and beverages that trigger migraines. Keep a food diary to help recognize patterns.

  • Consistent sleep schedule: Maintain a regular sleep routine to avoid sleep disturbances.

  • Stress reduction: Incorporate stress management practices like mindfulness, cognitive-behavioural therapy, or regular physical activity.

  • Trigger management: Avoid known triggers such as bright lights, loud noises, and strong odours. Use sunglasses and earplugs if necessary.

Medical Treatments


  • Over-the-counter medications: Pain relievers like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin can help alleviate headache pain.

  • Prescribed medications: For chronic or severe headaches, doctors may prescribe muscle relaxants or other medications.


  • Preventive medications: Doctors may prescribe medications to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. 

  • Abortive medications: Some prescription drugs can help stop a migraine in progress if taken at the first sign of symptoms.

  • Alternative therapies: Acupuncture and certain supplements have been found to help some individuals manage migraines.

Understanding the specific triggers and symptoms associated with migraine and headaches can help tailor effective treatment strategies. By making appropriate lifestyle changes and seeking the right medical interventions, individuals can significantly reduce the impact of these crippling conditions on their daily lives. 

Remember, consulting with a healthcare professional is essential for developing a personalised plan that addresses your specific needs and circumstances.

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