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The 10 Different Types of Headaches

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Headaches might result from a medical disorder, such as migraine or high blood pressure, anxiety or depression, or physical stress, such as incorrect eyeglass prescription or loud noise exposure, lack of sleep, etc. There are different types of headaches, and they can last for hours or a day, but in some severe cases, it holds on for days or even longer duration.

A headache may arise spontaneously or may arise from any activity or exercise. It may have an acute onset or chronic in nature with or without the beginning of increasing severity. Different headaches project different symptoms. However, several headache remedies can work for you.

How Many Types of Headaches are There?

Many of us are aware of a headache’s pulsating, uncomfortable, and disturbing pain. There are different types of headaches and causes. They are classified based on the sources of the pain. Some of them are:

Primary Headache

These headaches result from physical or mental overactivity or problems related to pain-sensitive structures in your head. But the primary headache isn’t a symptom of diseases that can activate the pain-sensitive nerves.

Commonly known primary headaches are:

(i) Migraine

It is a kind of neurological condition which causes a severe pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head.Migraine can affect children as well as adults. 

Migraine affects boys and girls equally before puberty but affects more women than men after puberty.

There are four stages of migraine progression: prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome, but not everyone goes through them.

  • Prodrome: This is the earliest stage which occurs one or two days before the migraine, its common symptoms are constipation, frequent yawning, neck stiffness, and mood swings, from depression to euphoria.
  • Aura: Auras are reversible symptoms of the nervous system which might occur before or after a migraine attack. The symptoms include vision loss, weakness or numbness on either side of the face or the body, and difficulty in speaking and hearing.
  • Attack: Migraine occurrence varies from person to person, but it generally lasts for 4 to 72 hours. You might face symptoms like pain on one side of your head, but often on both sides, pain that throbs or pulses, sensitivity around a light, sound, and sometimes with smell and touch, nausea and vomiting.
  • Post-drome: During this phase, there are usually changes in mood and feelings. In addition, you might feel drained out, and sometimes sudden head movements might bring the pain back.

The cure for migraine usually depends upon how frequently they occur. Over the counter(OTC) medicines that can cure Migraine include:

  • Acetaminophen(Tylenol*)
  • Ibuprofen(Advil, Motrin*)
  • Naproxen Sodium(Aleve*)

(ii) Cluster headaches

These primary headaches occur in a series and last from 15 minutes to three hours. You may feel pressure or headache behind the eyes or on one side of the face, causing swelling, redness, flushing, and sweating.

In addition, these headaches commonly affect men in their late 20s. Such headaches may arise one or more times a day, usually around the same time each day, making a cluster.

Doctors aren’t sure about the causes. Yet, they know some practical ways to treat the symptoms and recommend oxygen therapy, sumatriptan(Suminat 100 mg), or local anaesthetic (lidocaine) to relieve pain.

Secondary Headache

Headaches are caused due to diseases or infections and consequently activate the pain-sensitive nerves that come under secondary headaches.

Here are some common types of secondary headaches:

(iii) Allergic and Sinus Headaches

A sinus infection can lead to a headache. A sinus headache occurs around your eyes, cheeks, forehead, and head throbs.

    The main symptoms include:

  • Facial pain or pressure
  • “Stuffed-up” nose
  • Loss of smell
  • Cough or congestion

    Other signs may include:

  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue
  • Dental pain

A sinus headache can last for two weeks or more depending on the seniority.

(iv) Headaches Due to Hormonal Imbalance

This headache is more common in women. Menstruation and birth control pills and pregnancy affect your estrogen levels, causing headaches.

Symptoms of hormonal headache are:

  • loss of appetite.
  • Fatigue.
  • Acne.
  • Joint pain.
  • Decreased urination.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • Constipation.
  • Cravings for alcohol, salt, or chocolate.

Medications like OTC pain relievers such as Naproxen(Aleve) or Frovatriptan(Frova) can work to control this pain.

Apart from these medicines, physical activities like yoga, acupuncture, and a modified diet can help in preventing such headaches.

(v) Caffeine Headaches

Caffeine affects our blood flow rate to our brains. Having too much caffeine and quitting it can result in a headache. Not everyone who reduces caffeine intake will experience a withdrawal headache.

 Keeping your caffeine level moderate can prevent headaches. However, when you are used to a certain amount of caffeine intake each day, it can lead to headaches if you don’t keep your caffeine intake fixed. Its withdrawal can trigger a headache.

(vi) Exertion Headaches

Intense physical activity causes exertion headaches. Weight lifting, running, and sexual intercourse are common triggers for an exertion headache. This headache doesn’t last long and usually resolves within a few minutes or hours.

Analgesics, such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen(Advil), may ease your symptoms.

(vii) Hypertension Headache

Hypertension itself means high blood pressure. Headache caused due to dangerously high blood pressure is called hypertension headache. Such a headache occurs on both sides of the head and worsens with activity. 

You may also experience changes in vision, numbness or tingling, nosebleeds, chest pain, or shortness of breath. If you are experiencing such headaches, you should seek immediate medical attention. These headaches do not occur again until the blood pressure becomes high.  

(viii) Rebound Headaches

It is also known as medication overuse headache, which occurs due to overuse of certain OTC medicines, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, and drugs that contain caffeine for 15 days out of a month.

To get rid of this headache, stop taking the OTC medicines you have been taking to control pain. Although the pain may get worse at first, take a daily protective treatment to prevent rebound headaches.

(ix) Post-traumatic Headaches

When a person gets an injury on his head, that leads to bothersome and distressing headaches, namely Post-traumatic headaches.

Such chronic headaches can last for 6-12 hours, and resolve with Triptans, Sumatriptan(Imitrex)*, Beta-Blockers, and Amitriptyline*

(x) Hangover Headaches

Consuming too much alcohol can lead to a resonating headache the following day. Such headaches occur on both sides of the head and increase with the increase in body movement.

Drinking plenty of water and eating sugary food help with hangovers. Taking OTC medication, such as Sumitop 100 Mg, can also help in reducing such headaches.

Also Read: Constant Headache : Why Do They Happen?


Is Coffee Good For Headaches?

When your head hurts, you want quick relief and caffeine can be a cure for different types of headaches. It helps reduce inflammation and brings relief. For this very reason, caffeine is an active ingredient in most pain relievers.

What Are the Instant Home Remedies for Headache?

There are very simple steps to treat different types of headaches. You will feel instantly better after trying these remedies:

  • Try a cold pack
  • Use a heating pad or hot compress
  • Try easing pressure on your scalp or head
  • Dim the lights
  • Try not to chew
  • Drink water
  • Get some caffeine
  • Practice relaxation

How to get rid of migraine naturally?

Migraine attacks are not typical types of headaches. You may experience nausea and intense pain during it. Some natural ways to get rid of headaches are:

  • Avoid certain foods
  • Apply lavender oil
  • Try acupuncture
  • Apple peppermint oil
  • Avail the benefits of ginger
  • Practice yoga at home
  • Stay hydrated

Does chocolate help headaches?

Cocoa, a prominent ingredient of chocolate, triggers headaches. However, some headache sufferers look differently at chocolate. Recent research also suggests that chocolate is a safe component for headaches. However, chocolate is more likely to increase headaches than reduce them.

What is the most painful type of headache?

Amongst the different types of headaches, migraine is the most painful type, occurring on one side of the eye and often concentrated behind the eye. 


Headache is a very common problem. Almost half of the population suffers from it. With right treatments, headaches are easily cured. Adating a healthy lifestyle is the best way of treating and avoiding a headache.

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Photo of author Janet Fudge
Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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