13 common types of headaches

There are different types of headaches and are mostly classified according to intensity and causes.

types of headaches

According to the International Classification of Headache Disorders, there are three major types of headaches; the primary headaches, the secondary headaches, and the neuropathies and facial pains headaches but here we are going to cover only the two main categories of headaches, that is, primary and secondary headaches.

Types of headaches

Primary headaches

Primary headaches are those that are not caused by any other medical condition.

They include;

  • Migraines – Migraines are very common types of headaches. The American Migraine Association recently released data that estimated around 36 million Americans get migraines each year and it is very common in women than men. Migraines can be triggered by; stress, depression, anxiety, or shock. Migraine infection can cause a person to have feelings such as; sensitivity to light, shoulder or neck tension, tiredness, insufficient sleep, poor posture, and physical overexertion. If a person gets migraines, it can last for around 4 hrs to 3 days or more.
  • Tension headaches – Tension headache is a mild to moderate or dull pain around the forehead or at the back of the neck and head. It occurs when the neck and scalp muscles become tense or contract due to either stress, depression, head injury, or anxiety. Tension headaches can last for 30 minutes or several days.
  • Cluster headaches – A cluster headache is a severe headache that usually affects one side of the head, especially around the eye. The exact cause of cluster headaches is not known. A person can experience; swelling of the parts surrounding the eyes, nasal congestion, and eye-watering.
  • Hemicrania continua – This is a continuous or persistent headache that can be chronic. It causes severe, continuous pain that usually occurs on the same side of the head and face. This headache can occur several times a day, approximately 3 to 5 times a day and it can go on for several months.
  • Hypnic headache – A hypnic headache is very rare and it is usually a type of headache that a person wakes up with from sleep. It is sometimes referred to as an alarm clock alarm.
  • Nummular headache – This is also a rare type of headache that is usually located in the parietal lobe of the head and the pain is usually confined in that same place only. A person will feel a coin-shaped pain from the scalp.

Secondary headaches

Secondary headaches are usually caused by an underlying medical condition, such as; neck injury or infection of the sinus.

The types of headaches that can be classified as secondary are;

  • Sinus headache – Sinus headache can cause symptoms such as; fatigue, stuffy nose, worsening pain if you bend forward, aching in the upper teeth, and pain, pressure, and fullness in the cheeks, brow, and forehead. This type of headache in most cases lasts for less than 10 days and it can occur approximately 3 times a year if it is acute.
  • Medication overuse headache – This type of headache is caused by the overuse of pain-relieving medications. It is also sometimes known as a rebound headache. It can occur frequently on a daily basis and is a common cause of chronic headaches. You can prevent this type of headache by taking pain medications on a limited basis, only when prescribed.
  • Ice cream headache – This is also commonly known as brain freeze headache. This type of headache always occurs when you bite, inhale or eat something cold. Common cold things such as ice cream, ice pops, and slushy frozen drinks are common triggers.
  • External compression headaches – This is caused by the pressure exerted on the head by wearing a headgear especially if they are tight-fitting. Headgears can include; helmets, headbands, hats, headphones, and goggles. You can prevent these types of headaches by avoiding the wearing of tight-fitting headgears.
  • Spinal headaches – Spinal headaches are caused by a reduction in the volume or pressure of spinal fluid due to fluid leakage, spinal tap or spinal anesthesia. If you experience this type of headache, try contacting your doctor for appropriate medical advice.
  • Thunderclap headaches – This type of headache is very painful and it strikes suddenly without warning. It strikes like thunder and goes on for 5 minutes or more.
What is a stress headache?

This type of headache can also be termed as tension headache. It manifests as a dull pain and causes pressure or tightness around the forehead and neck. It is also classified as a primary headache.

What does a dehydration headache feel like?

A dehydration headache feels like a dull pain or like an intense migraine and it can occur at any side of the head including; back, side, front, or all over the head.

What does a blood pressure headache feel like?

According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure above 180/120 can cause headaches. This type of headache usually occurs on both sides of the head and blood vessels can also swell.

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