Types of Headaches
A headache is one of the most common types of pain people have, and most
people will deal with plenty of them during their lifetime. The pain can
start in the upper neck or in the head. One of the common misperceptions
about headaches is that the actual pain is in brain. While it might feel
that way at times, the brain does not have any nerves containing pain
fibers. Instead, the actual pain felt during a headache comes from the
structure and tissues around the brain.
The type of pain a headache inflicts can vary. It can create an intense
sensation of pain or a mild one. The headache can be throbbing, sharp,
or dull. Headaches can stem from a traumatic event or injury to the upper
body or head. Concussions, traumatic brain injuries, and mTBI can all
cause headaches as a symptom and must be evaluated in a timely manner
by a neurological expert.
Neurology professionals classify headaches into the following three main
- Cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other
The Headache Classification System
Primary headaches include migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches.
The tension headache is the most common type of headache.
The World Health Organization says that nearly 5% of people suffer from
daily tension headaches. While cluster headaches are relatively rare,
migraines are the second most common primary headache. They tend to affect men who
are in their late 20s more than they do others. However, they can affect
women and children too.
Secondary headaches come from conditions affecting the neck or the head.
These headaches could come from dental pain, such as infected teeth. They
may also be the result of infected sinuses, or even bleeding of the brain,
which can be deadly. Headaches associated with substance abuse fit into
this category as well. The final category includes everything else. Cranial
neuralgia is a type of nerve pain that affects one of the nerves in the
head and neck. It can cause facial pain that is extremely intense.
Available Headache Treatments
It is important to realize that since so many different types of headaches
exist, the treatments for all of them can vary quite a bit. For example,
someone who suffers from a secondary headache due to infected teeth needs
to have dental help, removal of the tooth, and antibiotics to deal with
the issue. However, those who are suffering from some of the "typical"
types of headaches may be able to utilize some common headache treatments
to deal with the pain.
Of course, the first type of treatment that most people consider is over-the-counter
medication. Most of the time, a common pain reliever is all you really
need. It will mask the pain until it goes away naturally, and you can
get on with life. However, pain medication may not always work. If you
are suffering from a persistent headache that has lasted more than a few
days and isn't responding to drugstore remedies, it's time to
talk to a neurological expert.
One thing to never do is take more than the recommended dosage of any pain
reliever in the hopes it will eventually work. In fact, when you take
too many pain meds, it can actually cause rebound headaches to start,
negating your goal of pain relief.
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