According to some research, more than half of adults reported having a headache, and 30% of them had a migraine. What’s the difference between a tension headache vs migraine?

These types of headaches are very different, but when you figure out which one you’re dealing with, you can find a way to treat them.

Keep reading to discover the difference between a migraine vs. tension headache.


You might have tension headaches if you’re feeling pain on both sides of your head, and you’re not dealing with severe pain. You can also have tight pressure or throbbing in your head.

You might feel like your head is in a grip and that there’s a tight band of pressure all around it. You could also be feeling soreness in your temples, and your neck and shoulder muscles might be sore as well.

On the other hand, migraines are normally felt on one side of your head. If you are physically active, the pain will get worse, and lying down might be the only thing that would help.

You’ll likely be sensitive to light, sounds, and smells. Instead of throbbing pain, this feels like it’s concentrated in one area, and some people have described it as a drilling type of pain.

Why does a migraine only occur on one side of your head? Click here for more info.


Regardless of what type of headache you’re having, talk with your doctor. They will take note of your symptoms and ask you about your health history.

They may ask for brain scans to see if they can pinpoint where your headaches are coming from.

Tension headaches are sometimes diagnosed the same way. They will ask about your pain levels and symptoms, and they might even order a head scan if your headaches get worse.


These headaches are caused by different things as well, but scientists still aren’t entirely sure what causes them.

Some experts think that tension headaches are caused by stress or by contractions in the scalp or neck muscles.

Migraines are thought to be genetic. A migraine starts when your nerves overreact and trigger a nerve that is responsible for sending pain to your receptors. It also affects your blood vessels, which affect the pain as well.


There are different treatments for these headaches.If you have a tension headache, you can take some ibuprofen to alleviate the symptoms. However, if that isn’t strong enough, you can ask your doctor for stronger prescription medication.

Discover More of the Differences Between Tension Headache vs Migraine

These are only a few differences between a tension headache vs migraine, but there are many more ways to tell which one you have.

When in doubt, visit your doctor and ask them.