Common Types of Headaches

The symptoms associated with headaches are often unique to the type of headache that you are experiencing.

 Tension Headaches

Muscle Tension Headaches:

The most common headache is usually associated with painful neck and shoulder muscles. Mild to severe pain is often located at the base of the skull, but it can also radiate to the temples or behind the eyes.

The pain usually involves both sides of the head and can last from hours to days to weeks.

 

Migraine Headaches:

A common headache associated with expansion and then constriction of arteries that supply blood to the brain.

Moderated to severe pain often located on just one side of the head (occasionally affects both sides). May be associated with a throbbing sensation, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and/or vomiting.

The headache is often preceded by an ‘aura’ which may include flashing lights, zigzag lines or blind spots in your field of vision. The aura is associated with expansion of the blood vessels and the associated increase in blood flow to the brain.

The headache phase of a migraine is associated with the constriction phase of blood vessels that supply the brain. Facial numbness and tingling can accompany the headache and some may even feel numbness and tingling that extends into the arms or legs.

Migraine headaches can last from a few hours up to three days.

 

Cluster Headaches:

Fortunately these headaches are quite rare. Affecting mostly men, they are characterized by severe one sided pain concentrated around the eye. Eye symptoms may include tearing, redness, swelling, reduced size of the pupil and drooping of the eyelid. This headache may also be associated with stuffiness of the nose on the affected side.

Often described as a stabbing pain, the cluster headache will last anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours. However, the headaches happen regularly (in clusters) for a period of seven days up to three months.

The headache cluster is usually followed by a pain free period of six to 12 months.

 

Sinus Headaches:

These may be easily confused with tension and migraine headaches.

Sinus headaches are located in the face, usually above the eyes and beside the nose. Mild to moderate pain is caused by mucus build up causing pressure changes within the sinus cavities. Commonly associated with a cold or allergies, sinus headaches can also be caused by bacterial or fungal infections.

Sinus headaches are often associated with the symptoms of a cold including a sore throat, fever, cough and colorful discharge from the nose. The pressure of a sinus headache is usually increased when bending forward.

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