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How to Tell If You're Having a Migraine or a Headache
How to Tell If You're Having a Migraine or a Headache
August 29/2023

How to Tell If You're Having a Migraine or a Headache

Headaches and migraines are both a type of head pain. They have many similar symptoms, and both can vary in intensity from mild to severe, but there are differences as well. In this brief article brought to you by Southern Maryland Medical Group, we’ll share some information on the differences and similarities between migraines and headaches.

If you are experiencing head pain frequently or for more than several days at a time, then you should consult with your primary care physician for a professional diagnosis and timely treatment. Residents in the area can call Southern Maryland Medical Group to schedule an appointment with licensed primary care doctors.

Are Migraines and Headaches the Same Thing?

Headaches and migraines are commonly mistaken as the same thing, but they have distinct attributes that help differentiate one from the other. While both entail head pain and sensitivity to stimuli, they differ in critical aspects such as pain intensity, duration, and specific triggers.

Headaches and migraines both manifest as pain within the head region. However, migraines often generate unilateral discomfort, while headaches can encompass both sides of the head. Also, migraines are characterized by a pulsating or throbbing pain, whereas headaches typically evoke a dull, persistent ache.

The duration and frequency of these two conditions show some semblance. Both headaches and migraines can last for several hours or extend to span a few days. Still, migraines tend to happen more frequently, potentially escalating to chronic episodes that significantly affect your quality of life.

Understanding the Causes and Triggers

Tension-type headaches are often ascribed to muscle tension and stress, emphasizing how our physical wellbeing is tied to our psychological wellbeing. Conversely, migraines are intricate neurological disorders influenced by a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors.

In terms of triggers, tension-type headaches might be prompted by factors such as poor posture, dehydration, or insufficient sleep. On the other hand, migraines are notably triggered by an array of elements, including hormonal fluctuations, specific foods, stressors, and alterations in weather conditions.

How Do Migraines and Headaches Affect Your Life?

Symptoms associated with headaches and migraines vary in scope and severity. While headaches are generally milder, they involve head pain and nausea, and chronic occurrences can still hinder daily activities and well-being.

The impact of migraines, however, can be more profound. Symptoms encompass a broader array. These include severe head pain, nausea, vomiting, heightened sensitivity to light and sound, and in some instances, visual disturbances referred to as auras, or visual, sensory, or motor disturbances. Migraines can lead to considerable disability during attacks and significantly impede work, social engagement, and overall quality of life.

When to See Your Doctor

Tension-type headaches are an extremely common part of life and can be a sign that you need to relieve some stress. If you are feeling a throbbing pain in a particular area of your head or experience visual distortions like flashing lights before your headache, then you may be having a migraine episode.

Migraines should be addressed by a trained medical professional as they can lead to considerable disability. Though headaches are common, frequent headaches can be indicative of an underlying disorder. Schedule an appointment with a licensed primary care physician to put your health first.

Knowledgeable representatives of Southern Maryland Medical Group are on standby to take your call today.

Our Locations

Southern Maryland Medical Group has 3 convenient locations to provide professional medical care services in the Southern Maryland area. Call or schedule an appointment with one of our locations to get medical care help. 

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Camp Springs, MD

5801 Allentown Road, Suite 400 Camp Spring, MD 20746

Phone: 301-868- 0150

Billing Inquiries: 301-552-1270

Fax: 301-868-0243

Greenbelt, MD

7500 Greenway Center, Dr #1200 Greenbelt, MD 20770

Phone: 301-486-7580

Billing Inquiries: 301-552-1270

Fax: 301-486-7581

Riverdale, MD

6510 Kenilworth Ave, Ste 1400, Riverdale MD 20737

Phone: 301-618-0771

Billing Inquiries: 301-552-1270

Fax: 301-618-0772