Headache vs Migraine – What Are The Differences?

There is nothing that I loathe more in this world than telling someone that I have a migraine, and they immediately say: “Yeah I get headaches too”. No. No. Obviously, you don’t understand the whole headache-vs-migraine thing.

Let me break it down for you, oh person who just gets headaches.

Headache vs Migraine

There is a difference between headache and migraine. The two, while they may seem related, are nothing of the sort.

In case you have never needed to compare the two side by side, I made you a table:

Headache Migraine
  • Head hurts
  • Throbbing Sensation in the eyes or cheeks
  • Feeling full in the sinuses
  • Tender Face


  • Pain in face or neck
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred Vision
  • Flashes of Light
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Eye pain
  • Weakness or numbness in the face
  • Uncontrollable movements
  • Numbness, or pins and needles on one side of the body
Duration A few hours Up to a week
Severity Mild to moderate.

“I don’t want to go to work, but I totally can work.”


“Someone please cut out my eyes, because they hurt so bad I would rather not have any than feel this pain.”

  • Tylenol
  • Hot compress
  • Decongestant
  • Prescription medication
  • Locking yourself in a dark, silent tomb where no living soul may enter
  • Removing of the ocular nerve, death

(Seriously though, you need prescription medication to tackle this monster.)


One main difference between headaches and migraines is that headaches are mildly annoying.

I know, I get sinus headaches because I have impacted sinuses. It’s not fun, but I definitely don’t feel like I need to gouge my own eyes out with a spoon for some relief.

That being said, yes, when you bend forward you can feel the odd throbbing sensation in your face. And sometimes, a sinus headache can be so bad it makes your teeth hurt.

A strange side effect of having full sinuses can also be feeling a little dizzy. But all of these headache symptoms don’t compare to that of a migraine.

Recovery Time

When you get a headache, there is no recovery time. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

Poof! Your headache has disappeared back into magical headache land, never to be seen again.


Don’t all of those migraine symptoms in the table sound delightful?

Eye pain caused by a migraine
What do you think, is this a good way to describe a migraine?


It’s horrible. It’s gruesome.

These symptoms often happen at the same time. When I get a migraine, I can’t tolerate any light, noise, movement, or thought. It tackles me and lays me out.

If I could, when I get a migraine, I would totally buy a coffin and lay down in it like a sleeping Dracula.


It feels like I would incinerate into dust if anyone talks to me, or if I see the light, or if I have to move. So, I think the coffin is appropriate. Don’t you?


Unlike a headache, a migraine has phases. Here I made you another chart!

1. Prodromal Phase 2. Aura Phase
This is the early warning sign of a migraine.

Basically, imagine your body is a submarine, and you are preparing for battle.

  • Thirsty
  • Irritable
  • Sleepy
  • Frequent urination
  • Food cravings
The calm before the storm. Everyone on the submarine knows that things are about to kick off.

So, they’re a little jumpy:

  • Flickering light
  • Blind spots
  • Pins and needles
  • Language problems
  • confusion
3. Attack Phase 4. Postdromal Phase
All hands on deck. Your body is fighting for your life!

The only problem is that it’s targeted itself by some horrible mistake.

This part is where all those symptoms I listed kick in.

Especially the eye pain. Have I mentioned the eye pain?

This is after a migraine stops. You don’t have the severe symptoms anymore.

But you do still have occasional flares of activity.

Also, you may experience extreme fatigue, sluggishness, and confusion.

For me, it’s like I just climbed out of a raging river of pudding. Everything hurts and tired.

A Migraine Is Not Like A Headache

As I have clearly illustrated for you, with the use of amazing tables, in the whole headache vs migraine issue, they are not the same.  They are not even in the same field. Hey, they may not even be on the same continent.

Next time someone tells you they have a migraine, give them a blanket and turn off the lights.

You don’t need to speak. They won’t think you’re rude. Just shut the lights off as you silently leave them alone to battle their own body.

They will love you for it shutting up and leaving them alone.


Like we said, headaches and migraines are not the same thing.

To recap, the main difference between headaches and migraines is in the severity and duration of the symptoms. In simple words, it is far better to have a headache than a migraine.

The migraine and headache remedies are also different.

Can you describe your symptoms when you have a headache, and/or a migraine? How do you treat them?


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