When you feel pressure or pain in your head, it can be hard to tell whether you are experiencing a regular headache or a migraine. It’s important to know the difference so you can get the pain relief and treatment you need.

You usually feel a headache on both sides of your head — across your forehead, at your temples or at the base of your head at your neck. The most common type of headache is a tension headache and it is often triggered by:

  • Stress
  • Eye and muscle strain
  • Anxiety

With a migraine, you usually feel pain that throbs or pulses on one side of your head. You can have additional symptoms other than pain when you have a migraine, including:

  • Sensitivity to light, sound, and sometimes smell and touch
  • Nausea and vomiting

Hormonal changes, stress, certain drinks or foods, and sensory stimuli, such as bright lights or strong smells, can trigger migraines.

You can treat many headaches or migraines by taking over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. However, in certain situations, you may want to see your doctor.

Before treatment, ask your doctor to rule out underlying medical factors that can cause headaches.