Difference Between Migraine and Tension Headache

Difference Between Migraine and Tension Headache

Tension headache and migraine are what make someone painful, unpleasant and uncomfortable. It is difficult to know the difference between migraine and tension headache but one must know about it. It is much important to know what is tension headache and migraine actually.

There are different types of headaches but it is categorized into two main groups, primary and secondary.


Primary headaches are the autonomous conditions that cause pain in the head, face or neck. Primary headaches include migraines and tension headaches.

Secondary headaches happen as the result of another medical condition like an infection, anxiety or medication overeat.

Difference Between Migraine and Tension Headache

What is Migraine?

A migraine is a kind of primary headache syndrome that can cause severe pain along with having some other symptoms. A migraine headache commonly affects one side of the head but some people experience pain on both sides.

Migraine headache pain can be moderate to severe. It is an extremely painful primary headache disorder that generally produce intense and unbearable symptoms that are more than headaches.

People with migraine may experience periodic symptoms that’s called episodes or attacks. It can cause penetrating and throbbing headaches that last from a few hours to several days. A migraine episode can occur in four diverse phases but everyone may not experience every stage.

Symptoms linked with a migraine headache include;

  • Pain in the temples or behind one eye or ear
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Temporary vision loss
  • Seeing spots or flashing lights
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
Difference Between Migraine and Tension Headache

Migraine with Aura

Migraine headaches are normally distributed into two categories, migraine with aura and migraine without aura. An “aura” refers to feelings in which a person experiences it before they get a migraine. The sensations usually ensue anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes before an attack. These can consist of;

  • Feeling stinging or numbness in the face or hands
  • Having an unusual sense of smell, taste or touch
  • Flashing lights or uncommon zigzag lines
  • Blurred vision

Migraine without Aura

Migraines without auras may cause intense, throbbing headaches on one side of the head. The headaches commonly last stuck between 4–72 hours. Migraines without auras don’t have any symptoms before the starting of the migraine attack. But most people with this type of migraine may have the premonitory symptoms.

The premonitory phase also called the preheadache or prodrome phase. It has non-painful symptoms that come about hours or days before the headache thrash out. Premonitory phase symptoms are;

  • Stiffness of the neck
  • Mood changes and food carving
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Sensitivity to light, sound or smells
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Yawning

What is Tension Headache?

Difference Between Migraine and Tension Headache

Doctors categorize tension-type headaches as episodic and chronic. Episodic tension-type headache occurs between 10 or 15 days per month. Whereas chronic tension-type headaches arise more often. It can also be caused of soreness in the scalp.

There are many factors that can cause tension-type headaches. Some of them are;

  • Depression, stress or anxiety
  • Sleep apnea or lack of sleep
  • Clenching the jaw
  • Hunger
  • Twisting or straining the neck
  • Arthritis

Tension headaches usually arise when neck and scalp muscles become tense. The muscle contractions can be an answer to stress, anxiety, depression or head injury. It is most common in adults and older teenagers. It is to some extent more common in women and leans towards to run in families.