How do you know what kind of headache you have?

The main symptom is pain on both sides of the head that may be associated with muscle pain. 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. People who have frequent migraines are at risk of triggering a headache due to caffeine consumption. However, repeated attacks or certain types of headaches may indicate a more serious health condition.

For example, the more intense a tension headache becomes, the more it resembles the sharp, stabbing pain of a migraine headache. A true sinus headache is the result of an infection of the sinuses, so the dirt that comes out of the nose will be yellow or green, unlike the clear discharge of cluster headaches or migraines. Similarly, when a migraine headache becomes more frequent, your pain begins to feel like that of a tension headache. Learning what these headaches are by keeping track of your headaches can reduce the number of headaches you have.

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 you have a headache that could be described as the “worst headache of your life” or a “feeling of thunder,” you could be experiencing a stroke, a brain aneurysm, or a brain hemorrhage and you should call 911 immediately. 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. 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.

James Otis, neurologist at Baystate Health and associate professor of neurology at UMASS CHAN School of Medicine — Baystate points out that most headaches experienced are diagnosed as primary headaches. You may be more susceptible to this type of headache if you use over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers often. If you have headaches more than 15 days a month over a 3-month period, you may have a chronic headache condition. Some types of headache can be prevented with medicines, while others can be caused by the same medicine.

If a doctor determines that your headache is not caused by another condition, you can discuss a treatment plan for possible thunder headaches in the future. Headaches are a common complaint, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that almost half of all adults will have experienced at least one headache in the past year.