What Kind of Headache Do You Have? A Comprehensive Guide

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. The main symptom is pain on both sides of the head that may be associated with muscle pain. 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. If you're suffering from frequent headaches and don't know what kind they are, it's important to understand what type of headache you're dealing with in order to get proper treatment and relief.

Knowing what kind of headache you have can help you determine what triggers it and how to prevent it from happening again in the future. Here's an overview of different types of headaches and how to identify them so that you can get the help you need. Migraine Headaches: Migraine headaches are usually characterized by intense throbbing or pulsing pain on one side of your head and can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. They are often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine headaches can also cause visual disturbances such as seeing flashing lights or zigzag lines. Tension Headaches: Tension headaches are usually described as feeling like there is a tight band around your head and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several days.

They are usually caused by stress or muscle tension in your neck and shoulders. Cluster Headaches: Cluster headaches are characterized by intense pain on one side of your head that usually lasts between 15 minutes and 3 hours. They often occur in clusters over several weeks or months and then go away for several months before returning again. Sinus Headaches: Sinus headaches are caused by inflammation in your sinuses due to an infection or allergies and are usually accompanied by nasal congestion and discharge. They usually last between 4 and 10 days. Dental Headaches: Dental headaches are caused by problems with your teeth or jaw and can cause sharp pain in your teeth or jaw when chewing or talking. They usually last between 30 minutes and several hours. Sleep Apnea Headaches: Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes pauses in breathing during sleep which can lead to daytime fatigue and morning headaches. Thunderclap Headaches: Thunderclap headaches are sudden, severe headaches that peak within 60 seconds and can last anywhere from several minutes to several hours.

They are usually caused by bleeding in the brain or aneurysms. If you're experiencing any type of recurring headache, it's important to talk to your doctor about it so they can help diagnose what type it is and provide treatment options for relief.

Debora Lehneis
Debora Lehneis

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

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