Do you experience a chronic daily tension headache, as well as a recurrent, hard or “sick” headache similar to a migraine? If so, you may be suffering from co-existing migraine and tension-type headaches, formerly known as mixed headache syndrome. This type of headache has symptoms of both tension headaches and migraines, although the exact symptoms may vary from person to person. Intractable headaches are those that don't seem to go away no matter what you and your doctor do. The cause of the headache may be migraine or another type of headache, or a combination of two or more different types of headache.
Cluster headaches are less common than migraines, affecting 1 in 1000 people. However, some people have both types of headaches. There are many different types of headaches with different causes and symptoms. Most are short-lived and rarely cause for concern.
It is important to be able to recognize what type of headache a person is experiencing in order to determine the best way to treat it and whether to talk to a doctor. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost half of all adults will have experienced at least one headache in the past year. If you have just started having cluster headaches, it is important to see your doctor in order to rule out other disorders and find the most effective treatment. If you suspect that you have cluster headaches, contact a neurologist or headache specialist to confirm the diagnosis and exclude other causes that may mimic the headache. Chronic tension headaches can disrupt your life, but they usually don't cause serious health problems.
However, repeated attacks or certain types of headaches may indicate a more serious health condition. The National Headache Foundation calls this type of headache a “gimmeted candle on a birthday cake” because the headache can briefly respond to medicines, only to be flooded after a break. In order to classify a headache as migraine, the pain must have at least a combination of three out of five characteristics. Cluster headache is a type of autonomic trigeminal headache which affects the hypothalamus, a brain structure of the autonomic nervous system, and affects the first branch of the trigeminal nerve. The exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown, but cluster headache patterns suggest that abnormalities in the body's biological clock (hypothalamus) play an important role. Hypnic headaches are harmless but an older adult who experiences unusual headaches for the first time should see a doctor.
A specialist called a neurologist or headache specialist will rule out other problems that can cause headaches. An MOH has frequent or daily headaches with symptoms similar to those of tension headaches or migraine.