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Different Types Of Headaches: Which Type Of Headache Do I Have?

  • Tension Headache

When it comes to different types of headaches, the most common is a tension headache, however, most of the time this is not the one we medical professionals hear about! In the field of neurology, where most headaches are treated, 75% of all visits are for this complaint and of those visits the big winner is migraine.

Most tension headaches are mild and episodic (once a month or so) and as a result people just don't call the doctor for that. It is the ones where the pain is occurring 3-4 times per week or might even be daily, that result in people calling the doctor's office. Unfortunately, when the pain becomes more frequent, because it may be a throbbing type of feeling, often a tension headache is confused with others such as migraine.

Other different types of headaches include one of those headache types that is called a cervicogenic headache.

  • Migraine Headache

Migraine headaches have been estimated to be the single most common cause of lost work days in the US, just behind back pain. Calculate the impact of migraine on your work place! For many of us migraineurs, the excruciating pain seems to never end and each minute is an eternity. Finally the throbbing eases, and we are left with lethargy, fatigue and a hope that it won't come back soon.

In recent years, different types of migraine headaches have been recognized including: basilar migraine or basilar artery migraine and menstrual migraine. After years of being told "It's all in your head" by many doctors, women are now being validated and treated for their pain which occurs month after month.

Many migraineurs are also afflicted with auras before a migraine. For a long time in the medical community, women with headaches were thought to have a migraine personality. This usually meant 'neurotic' and overly anxious.

different types of headaches



  • Children's Headaches

Many times, both parents and doctors tend to brush off headaches in children. Children should not be having headaches! If it is a rare occasional headache relieved with Tylenol, then there is not much to worry about.

A new onset of daily headache in children could be a medical emergency and should be investigated immediately, especially if the pain is accompanied by seizure like activity or personality changes. More information on headache in children or stomach migraines.

  • Cluster Headache

This time the men rule! Cluster headaches occur in middle aged men, (but also some women), and a referred to in the medical community as "suicidal headaches". Many times cluster headaches are misdiagnosed as migraines (and vice versa) which causes continued suffering. Read more about cluster headache which like many other syndromes can be either acute or become chronic.

NOTE: The biggest difference between cluster and migraine is that migraineurs want to lay still, while cluster patients move around or rock back and forth.

New research in the area of clusters and migraines has indicated that occipital stimulation may be of great benefit to some severe cluster and migraine patients.

  • Sinus Headache

There are two types of sinus headache. Acute and chronic. The confusion lies with the fact that many people think migraines are sinus headaches.

Acute sinus headache is an infection of the sinuses accompanied by fever, chills and sinus drainage that may be green or yellow. True chronic sinusitus is due to chronic inflammation of the sinuses because of allergy headaches. It may also occur as a form of post-traumatic headache after sinus surgeries.

  • Cluster-Migraine Variant
This particular headache is difficult for many to diagnose as it has characteristics of each type of headache. Most people have throbbing type of head pain but the headache may not last as long as a typical migraine (4 to 72 hours). It may be as short as a cluster headache. Photophobia (adversion to lights) may happen, but the typical nausea seen with migraines could be absent. Patients may or may not want to move around. Most people respond to daily medication for awhile.
  • Occipital Headaches

This is a different type of headache which is usually caused by inflammation of the occiptal nerves which run up the back of the head on each side, just below the skin. Many times the nerves become inflammed due to a car accident and hitting your head. Another name for this is occipital neuralgia.

Additional information about causes of occipital headache.

  • Hypnic Headache

This is a different type of headache which is a "subset" of cluster headache. What is different here is that this headache occurs mostly in the elderly, specifically in those over the age of 70.

Like clusters, it is tied to sleep cycles. Read more about hypnic headache.

  • Caffeine Headaches

Caffeine is in so many products today, it is no wonder that those of us with headaches may be consuming more than we are aware of.By reducine caffeine, you may be able to avoid a caffeine withdrawl headache and this is but one lifestyle change, that could impove your pain levels. For more complete information about caffeine and your headaches, read this.
  • Ocular Migraine

Ocular migraine is a rare occurance where a visual distortion occurs but there is not headache. Many people become frightened the first time this happens, believing they may be having a stroke. While the symptoms should not be ignored if they are accompanied by weakness and other signs of stroke, most of the time ocular migraine is harmless. Ocular migraine and migraine aura are discussed here.
  • Post Traumatic Headache

Post traumatic headache is usually the result of one or more head concussions but usually responds to treatment if caught early.
  • Other Types Of Headaches

Temporal arteritis is one of those headache types that could be a type of emergency headaches that can be quite serious. If you have never had headaches before and are over the age of 50, you need to learn more about temporal arteritis Other rare headache types are: There are so many different types of headaches and head pain from the International Headache Society that I could not possibly cover them on one page.

To read more about headache classifications visit cause of headache.


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