How to Tell What Kind of Headache You Have?

Updated on February 25th, 2020
headache location

Headaches are, to put it harshly, a pain. When we feel it’s coming on, we conveniently pop a painkiller and hope that will suffice. Do you know that there are 300 different types of headaches? And there’s a lot of difference between pain and location.

Symptoms can help differentiate one kind of suffering from another. Knowing the problem, you’re dealing with is vital so you can get the right treatment.WHO (The World Health Organization) predicts that almost half of all adults worldwide will experience a headache in any given year.

Headaches can be a sign of or emotional distress or stress, or it can result from a medical condition, such as high blood pressure or migraine, anxiety, or depression. It can lead to other problems. People with chronic headaches may find it hard to attend regular work or college regularly.

What Causes Headaches?

Scientists and doctors don’t fully understand what causes the most migraines. They do know that the skull and brain tissue are never responsible since they don’t have nerves that register pain.

But the blood vessels in the head and neck can signal distress, as can the tissues that surround the brain and some significant nerves that originate in the brain. The sinuses, scalp, muscles, teeth, and joints of the neck can also cause a headache(1).

1. Pain around your eyes

This type of pain can be a sign of a cluster headache, so named because these headaches tend to occur in groups for days or weeks or months before going away. Only one eye is affected, and that eye may also be teary, red, droopy, or swollen.

Pain may also radiate down your cheek, neck, temple, nose, or shoulder, stuffy or runny nose, and even nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Because they’re generally one-sided and can involve sensitivity to stimuli, these headaches are very often confused with migraine headaches.

Every cluster headache can last for a while or as long as several days, usually appearing at the same time each day and often when you’re sleeping, which is why it is aptly named “alarm clock headaches.”Cluster headaches are of the rarest but also one of the most painful types of problems.

[ Read: Natural Treatments for Headache ]

2. Pain in your neck

neck pain
Image:ShutterStock

Neck pain may be the last thing you think about when it comes to migraines, but they are a common feature of the condition. 75% of patients with migraines get neck pain, which is something many people realize very lately.

People can avoid migraines by staying away from trigger inducing factors. Triggers vary from person to person; common migraine triggers include stress, alcohol, and certain foods. Medications approved for other conditions like beta-blockers, antidepressants, and anti-seizure drugs may help prevent migraines(2).

Last year, the FDA approved Aimovig (erenumab), the first-ever migraine prevention drug. Prevention is the most attractive option if you’re prone to migraines. If you get headaches once in a while, there are several medications you can turn to for treatment, including over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen to triptans and other prescription drugs.

3. Pain on your scalp

Tension headaches don’t cause the real pain in your scalp, but they may cause that area to feel stiff, almost like something is being pulled around.

Unlike migraines and cluster headaches, tension headaches cause pain on both sides of your head, mainly your forehead, temples, the back of your head, and sometimes your neck and shoulders, and the pain usually feels like pressure.

Stress is the most crucial cause of tension headaches, although physical problems with your muscles or joints can contribute. Try over-the-counter pain relievers for every-so-often tension headaches, but talk to your doctor if they become chronic.

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4. Pain in your sinuses

types of headaches
Image: Shutterstock

Many so-called “sinus headaches” are tension headaches or migraines, the first and second most common types of problems, respectively. An actual “sinus headache” probably doesn’t exist.

Acute sinus disease can cause a headache, but then you’re also likely to have a fever and a pussy discharge from your nose.

Always talk to your doctor if pain anywhere in or around your head becomes chronic and disabling if headaches feel different than they used to if they come on very suddenly, or with a fever, confusion, stiff neck, double vision, or seizures.

Home treatments to help avoid headaches.

 You can:

  • Try to minimize stressful conditions.
  • Make sure you exercise, sleep enough, and eat on a regular timeframe.
  • Stand and sit up straight. Practice proper posture.
  • Don’t excessively strain your eyes when you use your electronic gadgets.
  • Get treatment for depression or anxiety if you have those health problems.
  • Try using a headache diary. Every time you get a headache, write down the date, the time, and what you were doing and feeling before your trouble started.

[ Read: Magical Essential Oils for Headaches ]

For many of us, an occasional headache is nothing more than a temporary speed bump on a busy day. Most can ease the problem with simple lifestyle measures and natural remedies. Yoga, relaxation techniques, acupuncture, and biofeedback helps.

But for many of us, headaches are a big headache! Learn to recognize warning bells that call for prompt medical attention. Work with your therapist to develop a program to prevent and treat migraines and other severe headaches. And don’t fall into the trap of overusing medications; for some gents, rebound headaches are the most significant pain of all.

Conclusion

But while all headaches may or may not be uncomfortable, there are different kinds, and the exact location of your problem can tell you what type of headache you’re experiencing and how to get rid of it.

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