14 Types of Headaches and How to Treat Them

Common headaches

We are all familiar with the uncomfortable, throbbing and disorienting pain of headache. There are many kinds of headaches. The most common types of headaches are:

  • tension headache
  • Cluster headache
  • migraine headache
  • hemicrania continua
  • Ice take a headache
  • thunderclap headache
  • sinus headache or allergy (Note it’s not a recognized sinus headache condition. Instead, it’s an explanation of symptoms, that usually include pressure in the sinus or discomfort.)
  • hormone headache (also called menstrual migraine)
  • caffeine headache
  • exertion headache
  • hypertension headache
  • Rebound headache
  • Post-traumatic headache
  • back pain

Most people experience headaches at least once or twice. The reason, duration, and severity of this discomfort can differ in accordance with the type of headache.

IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION NEEDEDIn some instances headaches can need immediate medical attention. Take immediate medical attention in the event that you’re suffering from any of the following symptoms in conjunction with your headache:

  • stiff neck
  • It is a rash
  • the most painful headache you’ve ever experienced
  • vomiting
  • confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • A fever of 100.4degF (38degC) or more
  • paralysis that affects any part of your body
  • visual loss

If your headache isn’t as intense, you can find out how to recognize the kind of headache you might be suffering from and what you can do to reduce the symptoms.


The most frequently encountered of the primary source of headaches

Primary headaches happen when tension in your head occurs because of the result of. That is, your headache isn’t triggered by something your body is struggling with, such as allergies or illness.

They can be sporadic or persistent

  • Chronic headaches can occur frequently, but not more than 15 days during a single month. They can last from a few minutes up to an entire day.
  • chronic headaches are more regular. They can occur for more than 15 days per month. In these instances the need for a pain management plan is required.

Tension headache

If you suffer from a tension-related headache it is possible to feel an uncomfortable, dull ache throughout your head. The pain isn’t as intense. The sensitivity or tenderness around your forehead, neck or shoulder muscles may be present.

Anyone can get a tension headache. The stress that is often the trigger can cause these.

Cluster headache

Cluster headaches are distinguished by severe burning and painful piercing. They can occur behind or around the eye or on either part of the face one time. They can be a sign of:

  • redness, swelling along with sweating and redness on the side caused by headaches.
  • tear and nasal congestion in the exact same direction of headache

The headaches can occur in a sequence. Each headache may be anywhere between 15 minutes and 3 hours. When a cluster is present, people have one to four headaches daily typically at the same time every day. When one headache is gone it is likely that another one will occur.

Cluster headaches may last for months at an time. In the months in between clusters, patients are not afflicted. The headaches that cause clusters of pain are more prevalent Trusted Source in autumn and spring. They also are three times more likely to be more frequent in men.

Doctors aren’t certain what triggers cluster headaches.


The Migraine pain is a sharp pain that is felt from your head. This discomfort can persist for days. Migraine headaches can severely limit your ability to complete your day-to-day routine.

The pain associated with migraines is throbbing, and often one-sided. Migraine sufferers tend to be sensitive to sound and light. Vomiting and nausea can also occur.

Certain migraine headaches can be caused by sensory disturbances. Around one third of Trusted Source of patients will exhibit these symptoms prior to when the headache begins. It is also known as the migraine aura that can cause you to look:

  • Flashing lights
  • sparkling lights
  • zigzag lines
  • stars
  • blind spots

Auras may also cause the sensation of tingling in one area of your face, or one arm, as well as difficulty in speaking.

POSSIBLE MEDICAL EMERGENCYThe signs of the symptoms of a stroke could also be a symptom of migraine headache. If any of these symptoms appear unusual for you, get urgent medical treatment.

Migraine-related headaches can be common in your family or could be a result of other disorders of the nervous system. The women suffer from 3 times more likely Source to suffer from migraine than males. People suffering from suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are also at an higher chance of suffering from migraine.

The most common triggers for migraines are environmental elements that trigger migraines, for example:

  • sleep disruption
  • dehydration
  • missed meals
  • certain food items
  • hormone changes
  • exposure to chemical substances

Hemicrania continua

Hemicrania persistent is a mild headache on the one side of your head which lasts for at least three months. It’s possible that you experience an increase in intensity for several times a day.

Researchers believe it’s responsible for around 1-percent percentTrusted Source in headaches. It’s twice as prevalent in women.

This kind of headache could also be accompanied by

  • Eye redness or tearing
  • nasal congestion or a runny nose
  • eyelids closing
  • forehead sweating
  • miosis
  • Anxiety or restlessness

Ice help with headache

The primary stabbing headaches also known as headaches with icepicks are characterised by quick, intense stabbing headaches that occur in your head that last for just a few minutes.

The headaches may occur several times a day, and can occur without warning. The pain of ice picks can be like one or more attacks in succession.

Ice pick headaches typically occur in different areas in your head. If you’re experiencing icepick headaches that occur consistently in the same place this could be an indication of an underlying problem.

Thunderclap headache

The thunderstorm headache is a intense headache that develops quickly, and can reach its peak within less than a minute. It can be harmless but it can be a sign of a serious health issue that requires urgent medical care.

In certain cases an uncontrollable headache, thunderclaps could suggest:

  • blood vessel tear ruptures, blood vessel tears, or blockages
  • stroke
  • brain injury
  • Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction Syndrome (RCVS)
  • Vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels)
  • the pituitary gland apoplexy (bleeding into or the loss in blood supply to an organ)

If you are the first to feel a headache that is thunderclap take immediate medical care. If a physician determines the cause of your headache isn’t by an underlying problem, you may discuss a treatment plan to prevent the possibility of future headaches caused by thunderclaps.

The most frequently encountered secondary headache

Secondary headaches can be a sign of something else taking place within your body. If the cause of your headaches is constant, the headaches could be persistent. Treatment of the cause typically will relieve headaches.

Sinus or allergy headache

Headaches may occur because of the an allergic response. The pain that comes from these headaches tends to be concentrated in the sinus region and also in the front of your head.

Migraine headaches can be mistakenly interpreted as sinus headaches. Actually, more than 90% of “sinus headaches” are actually migraines, according to the American Migraine Foundation. Patients with persistent allergy to seasonal triggers and sinusitis are at risk for migraines of this kind.

Hormone headache

Women often suffer headaches, which are often linked to hormone fluctuations. The menstrual cycle, birth control pills and pregnancy all affect the levels of estrogen that can lead to headaches.

These headaches which are associated to menstrual cycles are also referred to for their menstrual headaches. Menstrual migraine can be experienced prior to or during or after your menstrual cycle, and during the ovulation.

Caffeine headache

Caffeine alters the flow of blood into your brain. Too much caffeine can cause headaches and can cause you to stop drinking coffee “cold turkey.” People who experience frequent headaches due to migraines are more likely to trigger headaches due to the use of caffeine.

If you’re used your brain to the same amount of caffeine, also known as a stimulant that you consume every day, you may experience headaches when you don’t consume the caffeine. This could be due to caffeine alters the brain’s chemical chemistry, or withdrawal may result in headaches.

Exertion headache

Headaches that are caused by exercise can occur quickly following long periods of extreme physical activities. Running, weightlifting as well as sexual interactions are commonly cited triggers for an headache. These activities are believed to result in increased blood flow to the skull, which could lead to a headache that throbs on each side of the head.

A headache from exertion shouldn’t last for long. This kind of headache typically disappears in a matter of minutes or a few hours.

Hypertension headache

A high blood pressure could cause headaches. The headache can signal an emergency. It happens when blood pressure increases to a level that is dangerously high.

Hypertension headaches typically be experienced in both your heads. It tends to be more severe with any type of activity. It usually has a pulsating appearance.

MEDICAL EMERGENCYIf you suspect that you’re suffering from hypertension-related headaches, seek medical attention right away. Make a call to 911 or visit your nearest hospital emergency room in case you are suffering from:

  • Vision changes
  • Numbness or tingling
  • nosebleeds
  • chest pain
  • breathlessness

It’s more likely for you to experience this kind of headache if you’re taking care of hypertension.

Rebound headache

Rebound headaches, which are also known as headaches caused by medication, can be characterized as the sensation of a dull, tension-type head or may be more painful, similar to migraine headaches.

You could be more prone to this kind of headache if your routinely make use of the over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers. The use of these drugs can lead to more headaches, more than less.

Rebound headaches are more likely be experienced at any time OTC medicines are taken over a period of 15 days in the month. These OTC medications comprise:

  • Acetaminophen
  • ibuprofen
  • aspirin
  • naproxen

They’re also more prevalent in medications that contain caffeine.

Post-traumatic headache

Post-traumatic headaches can occur following any kind form of injuries to the head. They can feel similar to tension headaches or migraines. They typically last for six to twelve months following the time your injury occurred. They can develop into chronic.

Spinal headache

A headache caused by a spinal canal is due to the low cerebrospinal fluid pressure that occurs following the puncture to the lumbar region. It’s sometimes referred to as a postural headache. The headache can be felt in your:

  • forehead
  • temples
  • upper neck
  • The back of the head

Research suggests that headaches caused by spinal cords are caused by a lumbar puncture that lasts between 10-40 percent Trusted Source often. The symptoms usually begin within 2 to 3 days however it could occur several months later.

Other signs of a the spinal headache are:

  • nausea
  • neck discomfort
  • dizziness
  • Visual changes in the visual
  • Tinnitus
  • hearing loss
  • Pain radiating from the arms


When is the best time to visit an doctor

Most of the time headaches that are episodic will disappear after 48 hours. If you experience the headache lasts longer than two days, or gets more intense, consult an expert for assistance.

If you’re experiencing headaches for longer than fifteen days of the month, over a span of three months, then you could be suffering from an ongoing headache problem. Even if you’re able treat the pain using OTC medication, consult an expert for a diagnosis.

Headaches are often a sign of other health issues that require medical treatment that goes that goes beyond OTC medication and homemade cures.

Diagnostics of headaches

There are numerous types of headaches a variety of ways to determine the kind of headache you’re suffering from. It is crucial to determine the cause of your main or secondary migraine in order to be treated effectively.

It is possible for your headache diagnosis to start with a physical examination and an extensive medical background. If you can keep your own “headache journal” in the days before your appointment with your physician. Keep track of all headaches, such as:

  • Duration
  • Intensity
  • The location
  • Potential triggers

Your primary physician may be able to refer the patient to a doctor for example, an neurologist. For certain types of headache it is possible to require tests for diagnosis to determine the root causes. The tests include:

  • CT scan, MRI scan
  • lumbar puncture
  • Blood tests

Treatment and management

Different kinds of headaches can be dealt with differently. Treatments can range from simple diet adjustments to more invasive procedures carried out by a physician.

Different people will not react to the same treatments even for the same kinds of headaches. If you’re experiencing headaches aren’t able to resolve by yourself, consult with a physician regarding forming the best treatment strategy.

Find out details about some of the popular treatment options for each kind of headache.

Tension headache

The use of an OTC pain reliever might be the only thing you need to alleviate your headache symptoms. OTC pain relief products are:

  • aspirin
  • ibuprofen (Advil)
  • naproxen (Aleve)
  • caffeine and acetaminophen

If OTC medication isn’t working Your doctor might recommend prescription medications, for example:

  • indomethacin
  • Meloxicam (Mobic)
  • ketorolac

If a headache that causes tension develops into chronic, a new approach could be suggested to tackle the trigger of the headache.

Cluster headache

A doctor might suggest the following options to get relief from the symptoms:

  • oxygen therapy
  • sumatriptan (Imitrex)
  • Local anesthetic (lidocaine)

If a diagnosis is established and your doctor has made a diagnosis, they will collaborate with you to create an action plan for prevention. This could cause your cluster headaches to enter the remission phase:

  • corticosteroids
  • melatonin
  • Topiramate (Topamax)
  • Calcium channel blockers


If OTC painkillers do not reduce the pain of migraine in an attack, a physician may prescribe tripstans. Triptans are medications that reduce inflammation and alter how blood flows inside the brain. They are available in Nasal sprays, tablets as well as injections.

Some of the most popular choices are:

  • sumatriptan (Imitrex)
  • rizatriptan (Maxalt, Axert)

Consult a physician about taking a medication on a regular basis to help prevent migraine headaches when you are suffering from headaches like:

  • afflicted for over 3 days in a month
  • fairly debilitating for 4 days per month
  • that lasts longer than six days per month

According to an review conducted in the year of 2019 Preventive migraine medicines are largely unutilized: three to thirteen percent patients suffering from migraines take preventive medications and up to 38 percent of them actually require it.

The prevention of migraine significantly improves the productivity and quality of life.

Preventive migraine medication that is effective include:

  • propranolol (Inderal)
  • metoprolol (Toprol)
  • topiramate (Topamax)
  • Amitriptyline

Hemicrania continua

One of the main characteristics of hemicrania continues is that it responds completely for indomethacin which is a drug belonging to the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) family. A moderate dose three times per day, during meals typically relieves symptoms within 24 hours.

Indomethacin may cause side effects, particularly at higher doses. Therefore, choosing the lowest dose is usually advised.

Ice help with headache

Ice pick headaches are difficult to treat as they only last for the shortest time. The majority of headaches from ice picks will pass before you’ve had the chance to do anything about them.

It is possible to consider taking preventive measures to lessen the frequency or severity of headaches that may occur in the future. The treatments could be as follows::

  • indomethacin
  • gabapentin
  • Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors
  • melatonin
  • Hand warming on the outside

Thunderclap headache

If you believe that your headache caused by thunderclaps is due to a different issue it is necessary to treat the root of the problem.

If you find that your thunderclap headache isn’t due to some other issue, it’s the primary headache caused by thunderclaps. They can be treated using NSAIDs for example, like the drug indomethacin. Other options for treating thunderclap headache include Trusted Source:

  • calcium channel blockers
  • beta-blockers
  • topiramate
  • lithium
  • triptans

Sinus or allergy headache

Sinus headaches are treated through thinning out mucus which is accumulating and causes sinus pressure. Treatment options include:

  • nasal steroid sprays
  • OTC descongestants such as Phenylephrine ( Sudafed PE)
  • antihistamines like cetirizine

A headache caused by sinuses can be an indication of an sinus-related infection. In these instances your doctor could prescribe antibiotics in order to eliminate the infection and ease the symptoms of headaches and other.

Hormone headache

OTC pain relievers such as naproxen (Aleve) or prescription drugs such as frovatriptan (Frova) may help alleviate the pain.

According to a study from 2015 in 2015, around 60% of Trusted Source of migraine sufferers have menstrual migraines, which suggests that alternative solutions could play some role in reducing the number of headaches every month. The following could be helpful:

  • relaxation techniques
  • yoga
  • acupuncture
  • eating an altered diet

Caffeine headache

Maintaining your intake of caffeine in a moderate, steady level , or even removing completely — will stop headaches from occurring.

Exertion headache

OTC pain relievers like Ibuprofen or aspirin (Advil), typically help relieve symptoms.

If you experience headaches from exertion frequently, consult a physician. In some instances they could be an indication of a serious medical health issue.

Hypertension headache

These kinds of headaches usually fade quickly when blood pressure is in more control. They shouldn’t return for as long as the blood pressure remains controlled.

Rebound headache

The best treatment for headaches that are recurring is to gradually remove yourself from the medications you’ve been taking to control the pain. While the pain might get worse initially, it will disappear completely within a couple of days.

An effective way to avoid headaches caused by medication is to use a daily preventive medication that does not cause headaches that return and also prevents headaches from happening to start with.

Post-traumatic headache

Doctors frequently prescribe these medications to help treat headaches:

  • triptans
  • sumatriptan (Imitrex)
  • beta-blockers
  • amtriptyline

Spinal headache

The initial treatment for a headache caused by the spine typically involves painkillers and fluids. It can also help to avoid sitting in a straight posture. The symptoms typically disappear by themselves within a few weeks or.

In some instances an epidural blood patch could be applied. It is a method that involves a small quantity of blood removed from your body and then injected into the epidural space. This can prevent the cerebrospinal fluid from leakage and, in turn, stops headaches.

Are you able to prevent headaches?

The majority of headaches can be treated through preventive measures. However, the strategies will differ according to the type of headache. Certain types of headache can be treated with medication however, others could cause the headache with the same medications. This is why it’s crucial to understand the best treatment for you.

Discuss preventive therapies with your doctor to determine an approach that meets your requirements. The prevention of headaches can mean less headache intensity and frequency or even avoiding headaches in general.

Most headaches can be avoided or reduced by lifestyle modifications, including:

  • sleeping enough according to a regular routine
  • eating enough and eating healthy food items
  • keeping well hydrated
  • having enough regularly exercise
  • managing stress

Migraine headaches can be reduced by the calcitonin gene-related protein (CGRP) medicine. It is believed that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one CGRP medication, Emgality, to stop cluster headaches.



Your outlook is contingent on the kind of headache you’re suffering from.

Primary headaches do not causeTrusted sources of lasting disability, or even death. If they’re regular and severe enough, they can be debilitating on a short-term basis. The types of headaches mentioned above can usually be treated if appropriately identified and treated.

The likelihood of secondary headaches will be based on the root causes. Certain headaches can be treated with simple adjustments to routines, but others can be fatal if not treated with immediate medical attention.

If you’re suffering from recurring or extreme headaches, seek medical attention immediately. A thorough diagnosis is the first step towards managing and preventing headaches moving forward.

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