Tension headache or migraine? Take the test!

Headache test

The following test can give an indication of whether your headache is tension-type headache or migraine. However, it does not replace the diagnosis by a doctor or neurologist.

Please carefully read the statements on tension headaches and migraines and make a note of which of the statements would answer you with yes and which with no.

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Symptoms table

Tension-type headache migraine
The headache is felt on both sides and covers the whole head.The headache is predominantly one-sided.
The headache feels dull-oppressive.The headache feels throbbing-pulsing.
The headache improves with movement or in the fresh air.The headache gets worse due to movement. Everyday life is hampered.
The headache is mild to moderate.The headache is moderate to very strong.
The headache is not accompanied by nausea or vomiting. Sensitivity to light or noise (not both) is possible.The headache is accompanied by sensitivity to light and noise, possibly also nausea, vomiting and visual disturbances.

Evaluation for headache test

At least two yes answers per column make the diagnosis likely. Below you will find notes on the evaluation.

Tension headaches

If there are two or more yes answers to the tension-type headache statements, you are probably suffering from this type of headache. For self-treatment experts recommend a drug combination of acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), paracetamol and caffeine as a first-line drug. Talk to your pharmacist about this.


If you have two or more yes answers, you are very likely to have migraines. This neurological disorder should be treated by the doctor. While mild to moderately severe pain can be treated effectively with combined preparations of ASA, paracetamol and caffeine, severe to very severe pain should be treated with prescription triptans.

Both headache forms

If you answered yes in both sections, you should talk to a doctor about your headache. It is possible that you have both headache forms.

No headache type

If you answered yes to less than two boxes, you are not a typical migraine or tension type of headache. For occasional ailments, endurance sports or relaxation exercises can help. Incidentally, this applies to all those affected.

Is it headache due to drug overuse?

The following questions from Prof. Hartmut Göbel of the Pain Clinic Kiel can help you to assess whether your headache may be caused by drug overuse:

  • Do you take medication to treat your headache more than 10 days a month?
  • Do you have headaches for more than 15 days a month?
  • Are the headaches increasing in frequency?

Answering at least two of the questions with "yes" will probably make the diagnosis. Please consult your doctor.

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