The Difference Between Migraines and Regular Headaches

How To Tell If It Is A Regular Headache Or Migraine

Nine out of 10 people will get a headache at some point in their life. Only 16 to 17 percent of people will develop a migraine. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between a migraine or regular headache. Below are some tips for distinguishing between a migraine and regular headache:

The Difference Between Migraines and Regular Headaches


The side of your head where you are experiencing the pain can help you determine whether it is a migraine or regular headache. Many people who have regular headaches can feel the pain on both sides of their head. Migraines are typically felt on one side of the head. However, it is important to note that you can feel migraine pain on any side of your head.


The amount of time a regular headache lasts can vary. However, they usually only last for a short amount of time. Migraine headaches typically last much longer than regular headaches. In fact, an untreated migraine headache can last over 72 hours.

Severity Of The Pain

The pain of regular headaches is typically classified as being mild to moderate. However, migraine pain is often described as being intense or severe. A throbbing sensation may also accompany the pain. Additionally, most people are able to get relief from the pain of a regular headache with over-the-counter medications. Migraine sufferers often find that over-the-counter medications are not effective for getting rid of their pain.

Other Symptoms

People who have migraines often experience other symptoms. Some of those symptoms include sensitivity to light, vomiting, nausea and blurred vision. Many patients also experience symptoms one or two days before they get a headache. Those symptoms may include constipation, neck stiffness and food cravings.

Furthermore, it is common for migraine sufferers to experience an aura before they have an attack. An aura is a term used to describe the visual, motor, sensory or verbal disturbances that a person may experience before getting a migraine. Vision loss, seeing flashes of light or stars, speech problems, a pins and needles sensation in the legs and arms and sensitivity to light are some of the aura symptoms a person may experience. These symptoms can last anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour.