Headaches and Types

If you talk about headaches, in the medical sense not a literary one, you may easily recall a few experiences of your own! Practically everyone has had episodes of headache- some resulting from eye strain or some from exhaustion. Although pain in the head and neck region is recognized by the all-inclusive term, headache, there are, in fact, several different types of distinct headaches.

Tension-Type Headache

Tension-type headache is the most common kind of headache. Nearly 30-70% of people can experience tension-type headache at some point of time or the other. This kind of headache is different from migraines in that the pain is usually described as a ‘grip-like’ or ‘vise-like’ pattern on the sides or back of the head. Pain that is characteristic of migraines is usually a pulsating or throbbing feeling. Tension-type headaches usually involve a mild to moderate feeling of pain and unlike migraines, are not worsened by physical activity.

Cluster Headache

As the name suggests, cluster headaches occur in batches, usually on one side of the head. Typically, the duration of pain is 15 minutes to 3 hours. The pattern of cluster headaches can be variable. Some people experience cluster headaches every alternate day while others have reported upto 8 episodes of headache in a day! Restlessness, sweating on the face and forehead and nasal congestion are additional symptoms of cluster headaches.

Medication Overuse Headache

Medications for headache cause another set of headaches!! Huh? That’s weird, right? Unfortunately, it is true! Some medicines meant to cure headache can give a person a ‘rebound’ headache. People have reported headaches caused by medications for at least 15 days or more per month. Incidents of such headaches can sometimes occur for a span of upto 3 months. Medication overuse headaches get worse with each round of intake of the medicine that is meant to cure some other health issue. This is a problem associated with the ‘Triptan’ drugs intended to cure migraine headaches.

Other Primary Headaches

Hold on! Are we not done with headaches, yet?? Apparently not. There are other kinds of headaches. Headaches that can come on suddenly and with great intensity are known as ‘Thunderclap’ headaches. Pregnant women can experience thunderclap headaches. These are different from migraines because a different pattern of narrowing of the brain blood vessels is seen in thunderclap headaches. Other forms of headache include ‘stabbing headaches’, headaches resulting from physical exhaustion, headaches caused by coughing and other headaches that cannot be described as cluster, migraines or tension-type headaches. Migraine headaches, which can have a deep impact on the quality of life of a person, are discussed in Migraine Headaches.


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