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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Types of Headache

Types of Headache

Pain in any region of the head is termed as headache. Headaches may involve both sides of the head at the same time or it may be isolated to a certain location. It may radiate across the head and neck region also. Defining in terms of nature of pain headache may be a sharp pain, throbbing sensation or dull ache. Headaches appear gradually even suddenly the time the patient will suffer will vary from few minutes to several hours. Headache is one of the most common patient complaints.


Most of the headaches not due to some serious underlying disease but one should seek proper investigations and consultation if there is sudden, severe headache or along with headache there are symptoms such as dizziness, stiff neck or nausea.  Various types of headaches are -


  • Tension Headache - It is a chronic type of headache which may be as a result of stress or fatigue. Generally tension headache is due to physical problems, psychological issues, or depression. Both men and women are affected, but women are more commonly affected. Generally disease onsets between the age of 20 and 40, and any person can be affected. There may be many symptoms associated with tension headache that a person can experience like neck stiffness, soreness around head, continuous pain in regions of head, change in sleep pattern, insomnia,  Shortness of breath, Constipation, Nausea, Weight loss, fatigue, Palpitations, Dizziness and many other symptoms like poor concentration etc.
  • Migraine Headache - Migraine presents with severe headache which requires urgent attention and can lead to job absenteeism. It has relation with the family history but whether it is a genetic or family disposition is not yet clear. It is also believed that migraine may be due to altered function of pain generating system of brain. Women are more commonly affected as compared to men. In migraine one will generally suffer from the pain in the half of the head means that the person will have unilateral headache. Migraine is vascular headache as it is associated with changes in the arterial size in the brain. Several types of migraines are there and they are generally accompanied by nausea and vomiting. At the time of attack patient may show sensitivity to light and noises.
  • Cluster Headache - If headache comes in groups it is termed as cluster headache. The pain is most severe and intense compared to other headache type. It lasts less than one hour but sometimes it may last for several hours. As the name suggests it will recur after some time in succession. It generally occurs during the morning or late at night. One cycle can last weeks or months and then can disappear for months or years. The headache is usually unilateral and generally sticks to the same side of the head. There may also be pain around eye.
  • Hormone Headache - Apart from women, men can also suffer hormonal headache. There is the perception of the pain due to hormones only. It is a possibility that the hormonal sensitization is warning of the underlying damage which may happen to the patient due to underlying disease. The hormones maintain the balance of the body as the environment will change constantly.
  • Rebound Headache - It results from over-use of medications which exceeds labeling instructions or physician's advice. If medicines contain caffeine then the chances of getting it are more. Caffeine is included in some drugs as it increases the efficacy of the other ingredients. If someone is drinking caffeine in form of coffee, tea or soft drinks then he is more vulnerable to a rebound headache. More use of medications may lead to addiction of that medicine which will result in the severe headache when someone tries to wean off from that medication.
  • Sinus Headache - It results from the inflammation of the sinuses that are located in forehead bone, the cheek bone on each side, and behind the bridge of nose. Sinus will generally be inflamed because of an allergic reaction, a tumor and infection. Usually the sinuses are filled with air draining the secretions into nose and any inflammation of the sinuses will result in fever. Antibiotics will generally cure the sinus inflammation and will abolish further headaches. Antihistaminic and decongestants may also be of some help.
  • Organic Headache - It is due to some abnormality in the brain or skull. Benign or malignant brain tumor, a brain aneurysm, hematoma, meningitis, brain abscess, brain infection, cerebral hemorrhage, or encephalitis etc can lead to headache. This type of headache will be quiet sharp in nature and will be associated with other symptoms of organic brain disorder like confusion, vomiting, seizures etc.