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  • Cherry Health Center

What Type of Headache Do You Have?

Everyone experiences pain or pressure in their head from time to time–it’s just a part of life. Depending on the severity and nature of the pain, these episodes can range from an annoyance to a debilitating situation. While we tend to simply call all pain in the head a headache, all headaches aren’t the same.



Tension headaches are the most common and they stem from muscle tension in the neck, shoulders, and back. Since many people hold tension in their muscles due to stress and anxiety, this type of headache is often related to stressful times in life. If your headache is relieved by rest, a hot shower, massage, or other relaxing activity, it is most likely a tension headache.

Sinus headaches are also common, especially during allergy, flu, and cold season. The pain associated with this type of headache centers around your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, and forehead, extending out to your temples. If a headache is accompanied by a stuffy or runny nose, congestion, or any flu and cold symptoms, it most likely falls into this category.

Cluster headaches are intense headaches that are localized to one side of the head, often around the eye.  They cause severe pain, but tend to be short in duration and occur in ‘clusters.’ This is not a very common type of headache, and it’s also not very well understood. For instance, we don’t know why men get them more often than women, or what causes them other than that they seem to be related to a facial nerve.Additionally, neck and spine issues can also lead to headaches. Due to the prevalence of spinal problems, this is also a fairly common source for head pain. Those who have been in a car accident, taken a fall, or have otherwise damaged their spine are at risk for headaches, among other problems. Fortunately, this type of headache can be greatly improved through chiropractic care or physical therapy.What about migraines?Migraines, although still technically a headache, are quite different in terms of symptoms. Migraines are often accompanied by problems like nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light or sound, and pain behind one eye or one ear. You may see spots or have other visual disturbances, including temporary vision loss.Migraines can last for days at a time, making them one of the more disruptive types of headaches to experience. Sometimes people have per-migraine symptoms like nausea and vomiting, low energy, having odd cravings, or feeling anxious and irritable. For some, migraines can be triggered by things like alcohol, certain foods, or food additives or types of sensory stimuli.

No matter what type of headache you have, however, it’s important that you seek out medical advice. There are serious root causes that can be dangerous if left undiagnosed and untreated.

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