The Difference Between a Headache and a Migraine

The Difference Between a Headache and a Migraine

The symptoms that occur before, during, and after a migraine, as well as what might trigger an episode and the medications available to treat this complex neurological disorder, set it apart from any other type of headache.

Board-certified neurologist Dr. Andrew Lerman at Gables Neurology in Miami, Florida, provides exceptional care for a wide range of neurological issues, including chronic headache disorders. He also has a personal history of migraines which gives him a unique perspective of the challenges associated with this relatively common disorder.

Dr. Lerman offers professional insight regarding the symptoms of migraines and the treatments available that can help prevent or significantly lessen their impact on your life.

What makes a migraine different from other headaches?

Tension headaches, the most common type of headache, are characterized by pain that may begin at the back of your head and wrap around both sides like a tight band.

Migraines also include mild to severe head pain, but it’s usually one-sided, throbbing rather than steady, and accompanied by a litany of other symptoms that commonly occur before, during, and after the headache itself. 

These symptoms are separated into stages:


The prodrome stage of a migraine may occur hours to days before your headache begins. Symptoms can include difficulty concentrating, Irritability, food cravings, depression, and trouble sleeping.


Not everyone experiences an aura, but those who do may notice these symptoms shortly before or during the headache: visual changes that may include bright spots or wavy lines, numbness or tingling of your skin, changes in smell or taste, and ringing in your ears (tinnitus).


Headache pain associated with a migraine may become quite severe and can last for hours to several days. This stage is often accompanied by increased sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, excessive sweating or chills, and loss of appetite.


The postdrome stage, often referred to as a “migraine hangover,” can last for one to two days after your headache and may include significant fatigue, depressed mood, and difficulty concentrating.

Not everyone with migraines experiences all these stages with every headache, but they are relatively common and can be quite debilitating.

What are migraine triggers?

Migraine triggers can vary significantly from person-to-person, but commonly include:

Women may also experience migraines related to changing hormone levels around the time of their menstrual periods and often note a decline in migraine frequency once they reach menopause.

How do you treat migraines?

At Gables Neurology, Dr. Lerman develops a personalized, comprehensive treatment strategy that’s based on an evaluation of your symptoms, migraine frequency, level of disability, and other important factors.

Your plan may include:

Dr. Lerman also works closely with you to identify your migraine triggers and lifestyle factors such as excessive caffeine intake, poor nutrition, and other habits that can worsen the severity and intensity of migraines.

Don’t struggle through another migraine episode without support. Schedule a visit at Gables Neurology today by calling the office or requesting an appointment online.

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