(KXNET) — At some point in our lives, we have dealt with the pain we sometimes get in our heads.

Some are worse than others, and it can be difficult to differentiate between a headache and a migraine.

Mary Sadler, FNP-C in the Trinity Health Neurology Department, said, “You can function with a headache, whereas with a migraine, you can’t.”


Headaches, according to Mayo Clinic, are when you have any pain in the head, on either one side or both sides, and it’s isolated to one spot or radiating from side to side. This pain could range from being a sharp pain, a throbbing sensation, or even just a dull ache.

“It’s a pain to your head. You can work through headaches,” said Sadler.

Headaches develop slowly or quickly and can last for anywhere between an hour and several days.

There are two types of headaches: primary and secondary. Primary headaches are caused by overactivity or problems with pain-sensitive structures and are not a symptom of an underlying cause, while secondary headaches are a symptom of a disease that activates pain-sensitive nerves.

Primary headaches are typically triggered by lifestyle choices like alcohol (especially red wine), certain (processed) foods, changes in sleep or lack of sleep, poor posture, skipped meals, and stress.

Secondary headaches are triggered by dehydration, hangovers, the flu, or dental problems.

You can typically treat headaches with over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or Tylenol. Hydration is also key, as is eating regularly and getting enough sleep.


Migraines are severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation on one side of the head, according to Mayo Clinic.

They are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light or sound, and they can last for hours to days.

“It’s usually on one side of the head, sometimes both. You can have nausea, light sensitivity, noise, sensitivity, and vision changes. People have to lock themselves in a dark room,” Sadler added.

For migraines, there are daily prevention treatments or prescriptions from a doctor. If you feel a migraine starting, you can typically combat it with over-the-counter medications. Other things that can help prevent them are your lifestyle, doing yoga, meditating, or eating healthy.

“If people are suffering, talk to your primary care physician. It’s not normal to have a headache every day or every other day,” Sadler said.