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Headaches are pretty common; almost everyone has had a headache once in their lifetime. However, did you know there are many types of headaches? Migraine and tension headaches are the two types that most frequently occur. Although they have similar symptoms, both tension headaches and migraine require a different approach to treatment.

In this blog, we will explain all about migraine vs. tension headaches in this blog. Continue reading to find out.

What is a Tension Headache?

Tension headaches affect multiple individuals. It can be described as a dull, aching pain similar to the feeling of a band tightening around the head. Factors such as muscle tension and dress in the shoulder, neck, or scalp are usually responsible for tension headaches.

What is a Migraine?

Characterized by throbbing pain, migraine headaches are a comparatively severe type of headache. Apart from pain that usually occurs on one side of the head, other symptoms such as light sensitivity to light, noise, and smells occur. Moreover, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness are also felt by the person experiencing migraines. As for the cause, a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors might be responsible.

Difference Between Tension Headaches vs. Migraine

So, what is the difference between migraines and tension headaches? Although their symptoms can collapse, there are certain key differences that can help you distinguish the two.

  1. Location
    Tension headaches typically cause pain that starts at the back of the head and spreads to the temples and forehead. Migraines usually cause pain on one side of the head, but they can shift from one side to the other or be bilateral.
    You’ll experience pain that begins at the back of the head and extends to the temples and forehead in case of tension headaches.
  2. Intensity
    When it comes to intensity, tension headaches tend to be mild to moderate. Moreover, you will feel like you have a dull, constant ache in your head. In comparison, migraines can result in throbbing pain that becomes worse with physical activity. Migraines are a more severe form of headache, and they can be disabling.
  3. Duration
    If you have a tension headache, it will last anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, whereas migraines take several hours to days to go away.
  4. Associated Symptoms
    When it comes to migraine vs. tension headache, symptoms differ too. While you may not experience any symptoms with tension headaches, migraines are a different story. Nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, noise, or smells indicate migraine.
  5. Triggers
    The difference between migraines and tension headaches also lies in what triggers them. Therefore, stress, poor posture, and muscle tension can result in tension headaches. Migraine, on the other hand, is triggered by a wide range of factors, which include certain foods, sleep disturbances, and changes in hormones or weather.

Can A Tension Headache Turn Into A Migraine?

Light and sound sensitivity can trigger migraines, but one of these can result in a tension headache. You can see headaches as a continuum, where tension headache exists at one end and migraines at the other. A mixed tension migraine, however, displays the characteristics of both migraines and tension headaches.


In conclusion, there are a number of factors that separate migraine and tension headaches. Whether you have a migraine or a tension headache, Sleep & Headache Solutions can help. Talk to us now at 832-688-8886. You can also visit our experts at 13114 FM 1960 West, Ste 105B, Houston, TX 77065.

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