Headaches can be classified as primary or secondary depending on their cause. Primary headaches are usually the primary problem and not a symptom of an underlying condition. While there are several types of primary headaches, tension headaches and migraines are the most common.
Both migraines and tension headaches cause pain and discomfort. Their prevalence and shared symptoms can sometimes make them difficult to tell apart. Before you can take advantage of Glendale headache medicine, it is important to learn to differentiate the two. Here is how:
Auras are perhaps the most characteristic symptom of a migraine. While they do not appear in everyone, some people do experience them before or during a migraine. Auras are commonly visual disturbances but can cause problems with other senses.
Many people who get auras – about 3 in every 10 migraine patients – see blind spots, stars, flashing lights, or similar apparitions. You may also experience problems with language, speech, and smell. In contrast, tension headaches are never accompanied by auras.
Pain on One Side (Migraines)
You can also usually tell a migraine from where your pain is localized. Migraines often cause a severe or intense throbbing pain on one side of the head, usually in the temples. Alternatively, the pain might appear on both sides but be worse on one side.
Migraine pain tends to worsen when you move or engage in physical activity. In addition to one-sided pain, migraines can sometimes cause tingling or numbness on one side of the face or in one hand.
Pain on Both Sides (Tension Headaches)
In contrast, tension headaches tend to cause pain on both sides of the head. Tension headache pain is usually caused by overly tight neck and back muscles and is less intense than migraine pain. It can range from mild to severe but is often moderate.
While migraines cause throbbing pain, a tension headache feels like your head is being squeezed in a vice. It can be best described as a tight pressure that manifests all around your head.
Neck and Shoulder Pain (Tension Headaches)
Medical research suggests that tension headaches might occur due to overly tight muscles in the neck and scalp. While the actual cause remains unclear, this theory bears weight because tension headaches are often accompanied by neck and shoulder pain.
It might feel like the pressure in your head is extending into your shoulders and neck. The pain might feel like a tightness and soreness. However, unlike migraines, none of the pain associated with tension headaches worsens with physical activity.
Prodrome episodes are very similar to auras and associated with migraines. They usually begin a few hours before headache pain and can cause food cravings, irritability, depression, and fatigue. When the headache appears, these symptoms may be accompanied by muscle weakness, sensitivity to sounds, light, and smells, and pain and pressure behind the eyes.
Prodromes can also cause nausea and vomiting. They only appear with migraines and never tension headaches.
Discuss Your Headache Symptoms with a Specialist
As you can see, migraines and tension headaches manifest differently. The pain they cause appears differently and each condition is usually accompanied by unique symptoms. That said, there can sometimes be some overlap, necessitating medical diagnosis.
A headache specialist is best equipped to determine the type of headache you have, its cause, and how best to treat it. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consider headache medicine. Call a specialist today to discuss the best treatment.