Wednesday, August 17, 2022
HomeFactsHow Do Migraine Headaches Differ From Cluster Headaches

How Do Migraine Headaches Differ From Cluster Headaches

When Should I See A Doctor For A Cluster Headache

My life with cluster headaches (and how these differ from migraines)

If you suspect you have cluster headaches, reach out to a neurologist or headache specialist to confirm the diagnosis and to exclude other causes that may mimic headache. You do not have to be in the midst of a cluster to be seen by a specialist to be diagnosed.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Everyone gets headaches from time to time, for various reasons. But cluster headaches are no ordinary headaches. If you experience severe headaches in a pattern, talk to your healthcare provider. You could have cluster headaches and can get treatment for this painful condition.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/04/2021.


  • Weaver-Agostoni J. . Am Fam Physician 2013 88:122-128. Accessed 2/1/2021.Cluster Headache
  • American Migraine Foundation. . Accessed 2/1/2021.Understanding Cluster Headache
  • Kandel SA, Mandiga P. . . In: StatPearls . Treasure Island : StatPearls Publishing 2020 Jan-. Accessed 2/1/2021.Cluster Headache
  • National Organization of Rare Disorders. . Accessed 2/1/2021.Cluster Headache
  • Wei DY, Yuan Ong JJ, Goadsby PJ. . Ann Indian Acad Neurol 2018 21:S3-S8. Accessed 2/1/2021.Cluster Headache: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, Clinical Features, and Diagnosis

What To Know Before You See The Doctor

Some people think an occasional headache is nothing to worry about. But headaches can become a problem if:

  • You experience them frequently
  • They become severe
  • They are disrupting your everyday life

To help your doctor diagnose the source of your headaches, I find it useful when my patients keep track of how often theyre happening. This way, I can determine whether theres a pattern in triggers.

Seek immediate care for your headache if you experience:

  • A sudden, intense headache
  • Loss of consciousness or vision
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Pain for more than 72 hours with little to no relief

If youd like to speak with a Temple doctor about your headaches, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED today.

Huge Distinctions Between Thunderclap Headaches Vs Migraines

Head pains can be some of the worst pains known to man.

Some, like cluster headaches can even be called suicide headaches because of their persistence that may lead to madness and dark thoughts.

But they can be hard to differentiate.

In this article, we will cover thunder clap headaches and how they are distinct from migraines.

Don’t Miss: What Type Of Migraine Do I Have Quiz

Advance Signs Of A Migraine

There are a number of signs that may indicate an oncoming migraine. They usually appear a few hours or up to two days before the episode. They include:

  • fatigue
  • mood swings
  • increased sensitivity to light, smells and noise

About 20% of people who suffer from migraines experience a neurological phenomenon called aura. It lasts from 5 to 60 minutes and precedes the migraine. It can take different forms:

  • visual effects: decreased vision, flashes, double vision
  • numbness in the face, tongue or a limb
  • language difficulties

Triggers may be food or non-food related. Here are a few examples:

  • Personal or environmental triggers:
  • hunger or skipping a meal
  • change in sleeping pattern
  • noisy environment or very bright lights
  • insufficient or excessive physical activity
  • strong smells
  • hormonal changes
  • alcohol, especially red wine and beer
  • coffee and soft drinks
  • aspartame, sulfites and monosodium glutamate
  • chocolate
  • fermented or marinated foods
  • Could A Headache Caused By Covid


    Headache is one of the most commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19, the viral illness caused by SARS-CoV-2, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

    The Journal of Headache Pain published a survey in October 2020 that looked at the characteristics of headaches that occurred as a result of COVID-19. People reported having headaches in which the pain was pulsating, pressing, and even stabbing.

    The survey reported that men were more likely than women to have COVID-19-related headaches. The headaches were reported to be bilateral , often lasted longer than 72 hours, and commonly occurred along with gastrointestinal symptoms and loss of taste and smell.

    If you have sudden onset of a headache and neck pain, especially if it is accompanied by fever and malaise, it could be caused by an underlying viral infection, including COVID-19, says Rajneesh.

    If you experience a sudden headache and you suspect it may be COVID-19-related, contact your healthcare provider right away.

    RELATED: From Nose to Toes, the List of COVID-19 Symptoms Keeps Growing

    Don’t Miss: Powder Medicine For Headache

    Upper Cervical Chiropractors Vs Headaches And Migraines

    Upper cervical chiropractic care is a specific type of chiropractic that involves precise measurements of the C1 and C2 vertebrae followed by carefully calculated low-force corrections. The gentle adjustments are safe for patients of all ages and health levels. In a number of case studies, patients have received significant benefits in as little as one to two adjustments. Some patients with chronic headache conditions have even become completely headache-free.

    If you are suffering from migraines or a headache condition, especially if you have a history of head or neck trauma, it makes sense to seek the assistance of an upper cervical chiropractor. The search feature on this site can help you to locate a preferred doctor near you. Scheduling a consultation could be the first step in finally beating headaches for good.

    to schedule a consultation today.

    Pacing From The Pain Or Laying Down

    “Cluster headache patients tend to move around quite a bit during the headache. Migraine patients, moving around makes it much worse, so they try to stay still usually,” said Dr. Burish.

    During a cluster headache attack, I prefer to rock back and forth and tend to moan or scream when the pain is peaking. That is uniform across the cluster headache patients I’ve met over the years. Laying down is like torture during an attack because the searing pain makes you move. Bob Wold, Founder of Clusterbusters, likened it to slamming your finger in a car door: You have to shake your hand to cope with the pain. It’s similar with cluster headaches.

    Migraine attacks typically have you in a dark, quiet room because sound and light make it worse. I’ve had status migraines in the past, and they drained me for five days and had me wanting to stay in bed.

    Recommended Reading: Aspartame Withdrawal And Side Effects Explained

    Tension Headache Vs Migraine

    Tension headaches, which are brought on by emotional, mental or physical stress, are more common than migraines.

    People who have tension headaches often complain of a band of pain across their forehead, or pressure on either side of the head. The pain is tiring, but not as severe as migraine.

    Migraine, on the other hand, usually hurts worse on one side of the head. And, you may experience light sensitivity, aura, or bright lines or dots in your field of vision.

    Tension headaches may resolve on their own once the source of stress is gone. In these cases, over-the-counter pain medications and lifestyle adjustments may help.

    Migraines Vs Cluster Headaches: What Are The Differences

    Migraine Headaches : About Cluster Migraines

    When it comes to telling the difference between migraines vs cluster headaches, the differential is going to come down to symptoms other than the headache itself. This is because both migraines and cluster headaches can result in severe pain.

    We will begin by comparing the symptoms of migraines and cluster headaches. Then we will look at a potential cause of these debilitating headache types. Finally, we will consider a natural way to get help, so be sure to stick with us until the end.

    You May Like: How Long Does It Take For Topamax To Get Out Of Your System

    What My Pain Feels Like

    When a doctor asks me to describe my pain, I have an unconventional answer. It feels like Ive been hit upside the head with a baseball bat. My current neurologist chuckled at my description and said it is a rather accurate way of saying it. I don’t feel the sharp pain of hit with a baseball bat, just the aftermath.

    Symptoms Of Migraines Vs Cluster Headaches

    Lets start with the similar symptoms so we can understand why it can be difficult to tell the difference between these two conditions. Migraines and cluster headaches have the following symptoms in common .

    • Severe headache Cluster headaches are always severe. Migraines often feature a severe headache. However, migraine headaches can be more moderate or mild in nature. Sometimes, a migraine may present with no headache at all.
    • Runny nose Sinus headaches are often confused for migraines or cluster headaches. This is because both can present with a runny nose. However, migraines will usually present with sinus problems on both sides. Sinus drainage with a cluster headache is one-sided, just on the side where the headache is occurring.
    • One-sided pain Almost all cluster headaches are one-sided. Many migraines are one-sided, but really a migraine headache only has to meet two of the following four criteria: Moderate to severe pain, one-sided pain, pain that grows worse with exertion, or throbbing or pulsing pain .

    So even when there are similar symptoms in the comparison of migraines vs cluster headaches, there are still some differences. Now, lets look at some ways that these two conditions are even more different.

    Don’t Miss: How To Fake A Migraine To A Doctor

    What Is Sinus Headache

    A true sinus headache, called rhinosinusitis, is rare. The cause is a viral or bacterial sinus infection characterized by thick, discolored nasal discharge. Youll get symptoms like possibly weaker smell or no smell, facial pain or pressure and commonly, fever. Facial pain and headache should resolve within seven days after viral symptoms improve or after successful treatment with antibiotics . If pain continues, then your diagnosis should be reconsidered.

    What Else To Expect When Living With Headaches And Migraine

    The difference between a headache and a migraine

    If you are diagnosed with migraine, you may experience symptoms BEFORE and AFTER the attack. But there are warning signs that can clue you in when a bad headache is on the way.

    According to the American Migraine Foundation, this time before the onset of a headache is referred to as the prodrome period, preheadache or premonitory phase.8 Not everyone who experiences migraine will have these warning signs, but knowing what these signs are if you do experience them is important so you can seek out treatments to help prevent the attack. These early warning signs can occur between several hours to up to several days before an attack and include:

    • subtle changes to your day-to-day life, including constipation, mood swings, food cravings, neck stiffness, increased thirst and urination, and frequent yawning
    • difficulties concentrating

    In addition, some people with migraine may be more likely to have chronic dry eye disease.9

    Don’t Miss: Migraine Medication Side Effects

    What Are Cluster Headache Symptoms

    Cluster headaches tend to have very recognizable symptoms. When symptoms set in, it usually only takes 5 to 10 minutes for them to reach their worst. Common symptoms include one sided head pain and other symptoms involving the eye, nose and skin on the same side as the pain.

    Pain from cluster headaches

    Pain from cluster headaches has a few notable features:

    • Often described as a burning or piercing feeling.
    • Lasts 15 minutes to 3 hours at a time.
    • Typically felt on the same side of the head in the current cycle rarely may switch in the future.
    • Always centered behind one eye but can spread over the affected sides forehead, temple, nose and gums.
    • Can make you feel like you cant sit still and need to pace, unlike the relief lying down provides for migraines.

    Other cluster headache symptoms

    Cluster headaches may also cause:

    • Congestion: Your nose may run or become stuffy only on the side of the headache
    • Eye problems: You may experience a drooping eyelid, eye pain or a watering eye. Your pupil may also look smaller. These symptoms appear on the same side of the head as headache pain.
    • Face changes: You may start sweating and your face may become flushed on the side of the headache.

    Patient Reviews Say It All

    to view our glowing patient testimonials. Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic delivers results when conventional doctors say its impossible.

    Based on 139 reviews.

    Dr.Ty Carzoli is extremely professional, punctual and informative. The office is clean and organized. My treatments from him have allowed me to think towards the future, not just day to day. Overall, a great experience!

    Leslie Goodman

    I absolutely LOVE going to Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic. Dr. Ty knows his stuff and I’ve never felt better. His style of chiropractic care has improved my sleeping, mood, and fitness capacity. Plus, they are really great at making me feel appreciated. See super sweet picture from my birthday. I would HIGHLY recommend giving them a try, but only if you really want to improve how you feel.

    Carla Streff

    Derek Greer

    Read Also: Midrinone

    What Is A Headache

    Headaches are unpleasant pains in your head that can cause pressure and aching. The pain can range from mild to severe, and they usually occur on both sides of your head. Some specific areas where headaches can occur include the forehead, temples, and back of the neck. A headache can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a week. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common headache type is a tension headache. Triggers for this headache type include stress, muscle strain, and anxiety.

    Tension headaches arent the only type of headache other headache types include:

    How Do I Know If My Headache Is Migraine Or Sinus Headache

    Cluster Headaches. What Is The Cause?

    So, how do you know if your headache is migraine and not sinus? Go beyond the nasal and sinus congestion and the facial pain and pressure look for a headache associated with the inability to function normally at work, school, home or social functions, nausea, sensitivity to light and triggers such as weather change, menstrual cycle, and stress . Significantly, it is commonly thought that weather change often causes sinus headache when weather change is a common trigger for migraine.

    You can also ask yourself the following questions from the ID Migraine Questionnaire developed by Dr. Richard Lipton of Albert Einstein College of Medicine:

    • In the past three months, how disabling are your headaches? Do they interfere with your ability to function?
    • Do you ever feel nausea when you have a headache?
    • Do you become sensitive to light while you have a headache?

    If you answer yes to two of the above three criteria, migraine is likely 93% of the time. If you answer yes to all three, a migraine diagnosis is 98% likely.

    The American Migraine Foundation is committed to improving the lives of those living with this debilitating disease. For more of the latest news and information on migraine, visit the AMF Resource Library. For help finding a healthcare provider, check out our Find a Doctor tool. Together, we are as relentless as migraine.

    Font Size

    Read Also: Why Do Migraines Go Away After Vomiting

    When Its Actually A Migraine

    If you have a migraine, you may experience:

    • An aura, or light haze, in the minutes before migraine pain appears
    • Blurry vision
    • Pain on one side of your head
    • Light, touch, smell or sound sensitivity
    • Nausea

    Occasional migraines can be brought on by:

    • Hormone fluctuations
    • Lack of food or hydration
    • Changes in the weather

    In the case of a one-time migraine, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medicines such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain relief.

    Mayo Clinic Q And A: Whats The Difference Between Cluster And Migraine Headaches

    DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Whats the difference between a cluster headache and a migraine? Is there a way to treat severe headaches without prescription medication?

    ANSWER: There are various differences between cluster and migraine headaches, including how long the headaches last, how often they occur and the area of the head they affect. Several options are available to treat these severe headaches without a prescription.

    One of the defining differences between cluster and migraine headaches is their duration. A cluster headache lasts about 30 to 90 minutes. A migraine lasts longer often the entire day or potentially several days if left untreated. While its uncommon to have more than one migraine a day, its possible to have up to eight cluster headaches in one day. With cluster headaches, there are pain-free periods between the headaches. Migraine headaches often fluctuate in severity over the course of one headache, but the pain doesnt go away completely.

    Migraine pain can vary in location developing on just one side of the head, behind the eye, in the back or frontof the head, or the pain may be felt throughout the entire head. Clusterheadaches involve only one side of the head typically at the temple or aroundthe eye.

    Be careful how frequently you takeNSAIDs. If you take them too often, they can damage your kidneys orgastrointestinal tract. Do not exceed the dosing recommendations listed on thelabel. If taken more than 14 days a month, NSAIDs can worsen headaches.

    Also Check: How To Beat Migraines Naturally

    Headache Vs Migraine: How To Tell The Difference Topic Guide

    Migraine is one of over 150 types of headaches. Other common types of headaches include tension, cluster, sinus, and hormonal. Pain is the most common symptom of all headaches, and the severity of the pain depends upon the type of headache. Migrainepain is severe, pulsating, and is located only on one side of the head. Other symptoms and signs of a migraine headache are eye pain, sensitivity to light, sounds, or smells, nausea, and vomiting. Migraine is more common in women, and may increase in frequency and severity during menopause.Signs and symptoms of other common types of headaches.

    What Is Migraine Or A Cluster Headache

    The Difference Between A Cluster Headache And A Migraine ...

    Although migraines and cluster headaches both cause severe pain in the head around the forehead, temples or sinuses, they typically feel and act differently.

    A migraine is severe pain or throbbing, typically on one side of the head.

    Cluster headaches are painful headaches that are shorter in duration but recur over a period of a few months and are followed by a period of remission up to a few years. People who suffer from cluster headaches tend to get them during the same season each year.

    A migraine is a common condition that affects more than 37 million Americans, while cluster headaches are rarer and only affect approximately 1 million people.

    Read Also: Chills With Migraine


    Popular Articles

    How To Fake A Migraine