What Type of Headache Do You Have? A Guide to Identifying and Treating Different Types of Headaches

Headaches can be more complicated than most people think. Different types may have their own set of symptoms, occur for unique reasons, and need different treatments. Tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches are the most common primary headaches. Tension headaches are characterized by a dull, aching sensation all over the head.

Migraine pain is an intense pulsation from the depth of the head, and some migraines are preceded by visual disturbances. Cluster headaches are characterized by severe burning and throbbing pain, and men are five times more likely to have them. It's important to seek immediate medical attention if you have the worst headache you've ever had, you lose vision or consciousness, have uncontrollable vomiting, or if your headache lasts more than 72 hours without pain in less than 4 hours. If the headache comes with cold-like symptoms and pressure or tenderness in the face, you could have a sinus headache.

Once you know the type of headache you have, you and your doctor can find the treatment that is likely to help you and even try to prevent it. Different types of headaches can appear in similar places, so what you feel will also help you narrow down a plan for how to deal with pain and decide when to see a doctor. For example, the more intense a tension headache becomes, the more it resembles the sharp, stabbing pain of a migraine headache. Cluster headaches occur in spurts or “flare-ups”, where you may have regular headaches for a few weeks or months and then none for some time.

Similarly, when a migraine headache becomes more frequent, your pain begins to feel like that of a tension headache. If headache symptoms get worse or occur more often despite treatment, ask your doctor to refer you to a headache specialist. If you have any type of headache all the time, it's important to talk to your primary care doctor so they can help you create a treatment plan or refer you to a specialist. The most common type of headache, a tension headache, usually starts later in the day and lasts at least half an hour. People who suffer from sleep apnea may also be more likely to have headaches early in the day, as may those who have dental headaches.

Rebound headaches can be provoked by overuse of medications and can trigger a vicious cycle of headaches caused by the drug intended to treat them. The key to treating a headache is understanding what type it has, what triggers it, and addressing that specific problem. Keeping track of your headaches can reduce their number and help you learn what type of headache you have. Knowing what type of headache you have is critical to finding relief and potentially preventing them in the future. A true sinus headache is the result of an infection of the sinuses; therefore, the dirt that comes out of the nose will be yellow or green, unlike the clear discharge of cluster headaches or migraines.

Debora Lehneis
Debora Lehneis

Award-winning food advocate. Subtly charming bacon practitioner. Alcohol enthusiast. Proud travel aficionado. Incurable twitter scholar.

Leave Message

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *