Having a headache is no fun and it can be a desperate scramble to try to find the cause of the pain. The fact that there are hundreds of types of headaches doesn’t make it any easier. However, there are four main types that everyone is likely to get at some point in their lives. The four types are sinus, tension, migraine, and cluster. These can be distinguished by their characteristics such as location and duration.
Sinus headaches are caused by congested sinus passageways. This means that the individual will feel pressure around their eyes, cheeks, and forehead and their head may throb. Sinus headaches and migraines are commonly confused due to their similar symptoms.
Some common signs and symptoms of a sinus headache are:
- Pain, pressure, and fullness in your cheeks, brows, and forehead
- Increasing pain when bending forward or lying down
- Stuffy nose
- Aching in your upper teeth
These types of headaches tend to last several days or even weeks.
Tension headaches are the most common form of headache. The pain radiates like a band across the head and forehead that may sometimes lead down to the neck and shoulders. They tend to be caused by stress, but may also be due to tightness in the neck muscles.
A few common signs and symptoms of tension headaches are:
- Pressure in the front, top, and sides of your head
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle aches
- Mild irritability to light and sounds
These may last 30 minutes to several hours.
Migraines are a headache that can cause severe throbbing pain that radiates from one side of the face. A migraine develops in four different phases: prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome. Each phase has its own set of symptoms.
Prodrome (one or two days before the migraine):
- Mood changes
- Neck stiffness
Aura (before or during the migraine):
- Vision loss
- Seeing flashes of light
- Weakness or numbness in the body or one sign of the face
Attack (during the migraine):
- Pain on one side of your head
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and sometimes smell
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feeling drained or confused
Migraines typically last 4 to 72 hours if untreated.
Cluster headaches are not very common but are one of the most painful types. They develop on one side of your head and around your eye. There isn’t a clear cause of cluster headaches but a nerve in the face is involved.
Some common signs and symptoms of these headaches are:
- One-sided pain
- Excessive tearing
- Stuffy or runny nose on the affected side
- Swelling around the eye
- Drooping eyelid on the affected side
As their name suggests, these headaches come in clusters, occurring one to eight times a day. This can last for weeks or several months.
If you are experiencing any extreme and long-lasting headaches, please consult with a medical professional for treatment.
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