Different Types of Headaches and Causes | Get Help Now

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Different Types of Headaches and Causes

Headaches are common, and many people suffer from them. The cure for treating a normal headache is to drink an extra glass of water. In addition to this, rest or take a painkiller. In general, there are different types of headaches and causes for them.


Different types of headaches:

Tension headaches

Tension headaches are felt in a band across the forehead. They can last for several days, and do not disturb sleep. Further, most people can continue to work with a mild tension headache.


On the other hand, migraines cause severe pain on one side of the head or face. There is also a throbbing sensation. They are often severe enough to throw life out of gear. Thus, the sufferers need to sleep and rest before leading normal routines.

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches are also severe headaches and occur in groups. For instance, they occur continuously for several days or even weeks. It also occurs mainly in adult male smokers. In addition, it often presents with a red watery eye, a stuffy runny nose and a drooping eyelid.

Chronic tension headaches

Chronic tension headaches are due to muscle tension in the back of the neck. They mainly affect women. These headaches start after a neck injury or tiredness.

Medication-overuse headaches

Headaches due to overuse of medication are long-lasting. They are mainly due to painkillers. When painkillers are taken regularly for headaches, it affects the body. For instance, the body becomes immune and addicted to medication. But, if the medicine is not taken regularly, it leads to a headache.

Exertional headaches

Exertional headaches are those related to too much physical activity. They turn severe after a strenuous activity. Activity such as running, coughing, sexual intercourse and straining with bowel movements. Also, headaches at orgasm are very common in people with migraines. They tend to be severe, at the back of the head and last about twenty minutes.

Stabbing headaches

Primary stabbing headaches are often known as ‘ice-pick headaches’ or ‘idiopathic stabbing headaches’. Idiopathic is a term for something that does not have a clear cause. For instance, these are short, severe headaches which are very sudden. They last between 5 to 30 seconds and occur behind the ear. Medicine that prevents migraines is used to treat this condition. 

Trigeminal neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is the condition causing facial pain. The pain is of short bursts of electric shock-like sensation to one side of the face. It also affects older people and the pain is triggered by touch or light breeze on the face.

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Causes of headaches:

There are different types of headaches and causes.
  • Often headaches have underlying causes, and its treatment involves treating that cause. High blood pressure usually causes no symptoms at all. But it may manifest headaches.
  • Chemicals, drugs and substance withdrawal.
  • Headaches can be due to a substance, or its withdrawal. For example, carbon monoxide, produced by gas heaters or coal-fired stoves. Additional common causes are alcohol hangover and dehydration.
  • Headaches due to referred pain.
  • Some headaches are due to pain in some other part of the head. Such as tooth or ear pain, pain in the jaw joint and pains in the neck.
  • Sinusitis is another common cause of headache. The sinuses swell up due to infection (cold or allergy).
  • Acute glaucoma can cause a severe headache. In glaucoma, the pressure inside the eyeballs suddenly increases. As a result, causes a severe headache.


All headaches are unpleasant. Dangerous headaches tend to occur suddenly and become worse over time. The complications occur mostly in older people, such as
  • Bleeding around the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage)
Subarachnoid hemorrhage is from rupturing of a blood vessel on the surface of the brain. It gives rise to an acute headache and a stiff neck. This is a rare cause but can be fatal as well.
  • Meningitis and brain infections
Meningitis is an infection of the tissues around or on the surface of the brain. Encephalitis is an infection of the brain due to bacteria, viruses or fungi. They cause severe headache and nausea.
  • Brain tumors
A brain tumor can cause headaches, which gets worse from day-to-day.

When to visit your doctor for headaches

Most headaches do not have an underlying cause. Your doctor will try to diagnose the underlying cause, if any. You doctor will check for conditions such as:
  • Any head injury in the last three months
  • Signs of high temperature (fever)
  • If the headaches start suddenly
  • Any problems with speech and balance of body
  • Problems with memory or changes in personality
  • If the headache starts after coughing or sneezing
  • Any redness or pain in eyes
  • Nausea & vomiting with the headache
  • You have low immunity, in cases of HIV or oral steroid medication


Most headaches are of short duration and harmless. Simple measures can usually cure headaches. Migraine, tension headache and medication-overuse headache are common. Medicines can cure these headaches. A persistent and continuous headache may occur. This happens as a reaction to excessive painkilling medicines taken. Always consult your Primary Care Doctor regarding your headaches. Especially if they are severe and persistent. In general, headaches are less likely to occur in those people who:
  • Eat a balanced and regular diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Manage their stress levels
  • Maintain good body posture and strengthen the core muscles
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Have plenty of sleep

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