Migraine vs Tension Headache | Overview

Learn From Doctor Team
Learn From Doctor Team is made up of well-qualified doctors of different fields with brilliant academic results and professional careers. The article is written and reviewed by doctors of this specialty.

Migraine vs Tension headache

Migraine vs Tension Headache is a common confusion. If you are suffering from a headache but not sure what type of headache do you have?

Or just want to know the difference between the two most common types of headaches, let us help you.

There are many types of headaches but the most common types are migraine and tension headache. So, let us first discuss them, after that we’ll make a table with specific characteristics to differentiate those two.

Tension-type of headache

It is the most common type of headache. Most of the people who are suffering from headaches are actually suffering from this type of headache.

Tension headache is not completely understood. Emotions and anxiety are the most common precipitants and there is sometimes more associated depressive illness.

Anxiety about the headache top of the head or some other area itself may cause a continuation of symptoms and patients often become convinced of a very severe underlying condition. Muscular spasms may worsen this in some of the patients.

Migraine vs Tension Headache
Tension Headache

The Character of Tension Headache

  •      The pain of tension headache is usually characterized as dull, tight, or like pressure.
  •      There may be a sensation of a band around the head.
  •      Pain in the top of the head

Tension headache has generalized and constant character but still, sometimes pain radiates from the back of the head. The pain may be less noticeable when the person is working or ignoring the headache. This headache is less severe or painful in the early part of the day.

But it becomes unbearable as the day goes on. Sometimes you may feel tenderness on the top of the head in this type of headache.

Treatment of Tension Headache

The treatment of tension headaches cannot be only some medicines. There are some procedures and steps that have to be followed by the patient. Few patients may need analgesics, others may need physiotherapy for muscle relaxation and stress relaxation.

Few patients need psychotherapy to get rid of tension and anxiety. It depends on the condition of the patient.

Learn about Nexito Plus – An antianxiety medicine

Read Headache From the Heater


Migraine usually appears before middle age; it affects about 20% of females and 6% of males at some point in life. Some patients assume that migraine is a term encompassing any severe headache but it has a characteristic presentation, discussed below.

The Character of Migraine Headache

The exact cause of migraine is unknown. But there are some research and evidence about the cause and aggregating factors of it.

Migraine headache is usually a severe and throbbing type, with photophobia, phonophobia and vomiting. That lasts from 4 to 72 hours. Any kind of movement makes the pain worse and patients prefer to lie alone in a quiet, darkroom.

Extra care should be taken in ascribing the cause of an individual’s limb weakness or isolated aura without headache to migraine. In such cases, other structural disorders of the brain, or even focal epilepsy, need to think about.

In some of the patients, the symptoms of the classic migraine do not resolve, leaving more permanent neurological disturbance.

This persistent aura (known as classic migraine) may occur with or without evidence of brain infarction. About 20% of patients experience aura.

In female patients the frequency of migraine attacks at a certain point influenced by the menstrual cycle and hormonal changes. estrogen-progesterone-containing oral contraception pill sometimes exacerbates migraine and increases the small risk of stroke in patients who are suffering

from migraine with aura. Doctors and patients often overestimate the role of dietary precipitants such as cheese, red meat, chocolates, or red wine. When psychological factors contribute more, the migraine attack often occurs after a period of stress. Being more likely at the end of the week.

Migraine vs Tension Headache
Migraine Headache

Treatment Procedure of Migraine Headache

The best and sometimes only treatment of migraine is avoidance of the influencing factors. In minor(acute) attack doctor prescribe OTC drugs such as aspirin, paracetamol, NSAID.

If attacks are frequent (more than 3-4 months) then you may need antidepressants. The hormones those are responsible for migraine headache should be controlled by drugs. Oral contraceptive pills should be replaced by other methods.

Sitting or lying in a quiet dark room may give you some quick relief.

Now, we know about both types of headaches but we want it more specific and easy to understand.

Traits Migraine Tension
Gender More in women than men. Same in both
Where is the pain 60% times in one side of the head, 40% times on both side of the head It feels like a tight band around your head.
Pain intensity Severe Moderate and less noticeable when a person is occupied.
Pain type Throbbing Generalized and constant with some exception
Frequency 1-4 times per month Can be very frequent or infrequent but appears more often than migraine
Associated features Photophobia, phonophobia, and vomiting. No nausea or vomiting but sometimes light may create a problem.
How long 4-72 hours Few hours, sometimes from the start of the day to the end of the day.
About movement Any movements make it worse. Patients prefer to lie in a quiet dark room. Movement may doesn’t cause any problem here.

Learn about Vasograin – an antimigraine tablet

Few Last Words About Migraine vs Tension Headache

Now, it became very easy to differentiate and understand. But if you still cannot determine what kind of headache do you have? please consult with a doctor and follow his instruction. Thank you.

If you want to learn more about headaches, please read Headache

Migraine vs Tension Headache
Get relief from headache

Last Updated on February 23, 2022 by Learn From Doctor Team

Read More

Get in Touch


Latest Posts Protection Status