A headache is a painful feeling that can be felt anywhere on the face or head. Headaches vary in intensity from mild to severe, and you may experience several different types of headaches.
Read on to learn more about the different types of headaches, what causes them, and how to find relief at home.
According to the International Headache Society, there are more than 150 types of headaches. Headaches fall into one of two categories – primary or secondary headaches.
Primary headaches are headaches that are not caused by a medical condition. Some examples include:
- cluster headache
- tension headache
Similarities and differences between migraine and headache
Secondary headaches are headaches associated with other conditions, including:
- head injury
- sinus congestion
Headaches can vary depending on factors such as cause, frequency, and location.
Migraines usually appear as a feeling of pressure on one side of the head or behind one eye. Pain may be moderate to severe and may cause a throbbing or throbbing sensation. Pain may also be worsened by usual physical activity.
Symptoms of a migraine include:
- worsening symptoms around light or noise
- runny nose
- stuffy nose
- Pain starts at night and wakes you up from sleep
After migraines, tension headaches are the most common form of headache.
Tension headaches may also be called “hat strap” headaches because the pain of a tension headache feels like you’re wearing a hat that’s too tight. This can cause pain around the forehead, temples, and back of the head.
Tension headaches cause pain on both sides of the head. Although these headaches usually don’t cause throbbing or throbbing, the pain may feel like a deep, tight pain of mild to moderate intensity.
What Makes Tension Headaches Worse?
Symptoms of tension headaches may worsen when you look at light or hear loud noises. Tension headaches can last from a few minutes to a few days.
Cluster headaches are relatively short in duration compared to migraines. Cluster headaches usually last 20 minutes to two hours.
Cluster headaches are on one side of the head, face, or neck and do not switch sides. The pain may become more intense quickly, usually within the first 5 to 10 minutes. Cluster headaches may also worsen when lying down.
Cluster headaches may occur several times a day, for days or weeks at a time, and then go away again.
Cluster headaches may be accompanied by other symptoms, including:
- runny or stuffy nose
- sagging eyelids
- swelling of the eyelids
- big watery eyes
- sweating on the face or forehead
They are considered some of the most painful forms of headaches.
Sinus headaches usually affect the area around the eyes, the bridge of the nose, cheekbones, and forehead.
The pain of a sinus headache is often described as deep and constant. Sudden movement, exercise, and leaning over can make a sinus headache feel worse because these activities increase pressure on the sinuses.
Sinus headaches may be accompanied by other symptoms, including:
- runny nose
- stuffy nose
- feel full of ears
- plug the ears
- swollen face
- puffy face
- Increased nasal mucus
how to get rid of headache
Most headaches go away with over-the-counter medications. Migraine and cluster medications require specific medications to be effectively treated.
There are steps you can take at home to manage your headaches and reduce their frequency and intensity, including:
- Identify and avoid known triggers, such as certain foods or lack of sleep
- exercise regularly
- Adjust your diet to include the right nutrients
- manage stress levels
- Rest in a dark and quiet environment
- maintain good posture
- drink enough water
- using cold or hot compresses
- massage to relieve stress
when to see a doctor
Headaches are common and most people experience them throughout their lives. Usually, headaches do not cause debilitating pain and can be controlled with over-the-counter medications.
However, if you have frequent headaches or headaches that prevent you from performing your daily activities, you should discuss this with your healthcare professional.
Sometimes, a headache can signal something more serious. If you have a severe headache with other symptoms, you should contact a medical professional, such as:
- stiff neck
- muscle weakness
- shortness of breath
- slurred speech
- eye pain
- ear pain
Other conditions where your headache should be investigated by a healthcare provider include:
- sudden onset headache
- Headache that worsens over several weeks
- Abnormal visual symptoms that last more than an hour and are accompanied by muscle weakness
- Headaches that start in the morning and don’t go away
Overview of Migraine with Aura
Headaches are common and can be caused by a variety of factors. Pain from a headache can range from dull to severe and can affect different areas of the head and face. If you are experiencing a headache, it may subside over time and can be relieved with the help of pain relievers. If your headaches persist, a healthcare professional will be able to help you identify the type of headache you are experiencing and recommend the best treatment options.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a COVID headache feel like?
COVID-19 may lead to new persistent headaches that weren’t present before the virus. This headache can happen every day and persist even after recovering from a COVID infection.
Why do I always wake up with a headache?
A headache when you first wake up may be a sign of sleep disturbance. This can be due to sleep apnea, insomnia, or headshot syndrome. Explosive head syndrome is a disorder in which people hear bumps or explosions in the moments between sleeping and waking up that aren’t really there.
What medicine do you take for headaches during pregnancy?
Migraine medications are not recommended for pregnant women. It is also recommended that you try to treat your headaches without medication. Sleep, relaxation, healthy eating, and cold or hot compresses may help relieve headaches in pregnant women.