There are different types of headaches that often occur for undetermined reasons. Headaches that do not have a specific cause, such as another illness or an accident, are referred to as primary headaches. When the headache is the result of an illness or injury, it is said to be secondary. There are three types of primary headaches: tension headaches, migraines and cluster headaches. Let’s have a look on the different types of headaches and locations.
The headache is felt as a pressure or a tension, much like a band or a helmet encircling the head, sometimes radiating up to the neck. Tension headache is dull, oppressive headache that may return from time to time. Over-the-counter painkillers can relieve them. However, these agents may also cause side effects. According to WHO, among the different types of headaches, tension headaches alone affect two-thirds of adult men and more than 80% of women!
There are several possible explanations why women are the most affected. Their neck muscles are less developed and therefore probably more tired. These muscles are also sensitive to female hormones. Women may have a lower pain sensitivity threshold than men.
What are the symptoms of tension headaches?
The feeling of pressure is felt on both sides of the head. It increases throughout the day. It can be accompanied by eye fatigue and tightening of the neck muscles, but unlike a migraine, it does not cause digestive problems such as nausea and vomiting.
Since stress causes secretions of catecholamines and glucocorticoids, which in turn can be involved in sleep disorders, appetite, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, concentration disorders, symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, tension headaches can be accompanied by these different symptoms.
Similar to other different types of headaches, tension headaches can also be either episodic (less than 15 days of tension headaches per month) or chronic (more than 15 tension headaches per month for at least 3 months). In addition, tension in the upper neck muscles or failure of pain control mechanisms may be involved.
Migraines are not as frequent as tension headaches. In spite of this, many adults and children experience them. Women suffer more migraines than men, usually before or during their menstruation. Migraine pain is much more severe than tension headaches.
Headaches are classified as migraine headaches only when attacks of pain with typical symptoms have occurred more than five times.
What are the symptoms of migraine?
- Moderate to severe pain felt in the form of pulses, beats or palpitations, especially in the front of the head,
- Unilateral pain, where the side may change, but many also have bilateral attacks,
- Attacks of pain that last at least four hours and up to three days (at least two hours in children),
- Sensitivity to light, noise and/or odour,
- often nausea, sometimes with vomiting
It is not uncommon for a migraine to be accompanied by visual disturbances, flashes of light, abnormal sensations of the skin (for example tingling) or dizziness in some sufferers. This is the aura. Unlike other different types of headaches, an aura can occur before or during a migraine attack. An aura begins within minutes and usually subsides within an hour. Anyone who has a migraine attack often has to retire to a quiet, darkened room and lie down because light, noise and movement make the symptoms worse.
Cluster headaches are more severe than the other different types of headaches, they accumulate in episodes that last a few weeks. Attacks usually occur every day. Only one side of the head hurts in the temple area and around the eye. As a rule, the same side is always affected in subsequent episodes. Because the complaints accumulate over a certain period of time, one also speaks of cluster headaches.