The types of headache can be classified based on their cause or their quality.
Based on its underlying cause, Headaches can be classified as primary and secondary
These headaches occur due to activation of the pain sensitive structures around
the head. These may include the blood vessels, muscles and nerves of the head and
neck. Primary headaches also include headaches caused due to improper chemical activity
which may take place inside the brain. It includes – migraines, cluster headaches
and tension headaches.
Primary Headaches are further classified as tension type, migraine and cluster headache
based on the quality of headache.
Tension headache is one of the more common types of headache. This headache is a
mild dull pain which can be felt on both sides of the head, or just in the forehead.
It is continuous and can spread to the whole head. This kind of headache usually
turns severe over a period of time. Some may also feel that the pain spreads to
Migraine headache is felt like a pulsating or throbbing pain which usually occurs
on one side of the head. A migraine headache can last from 4- 72 hours, occasionally
with an aura and increased sensitivity to light and sound. Some people also experience
symptoms such as blurred vision, lightheadedness, and nausea along with these headaches.
Migraines worsen with activity and sufferers are known to prefer sleeping in a dark
room during a migraine attack. Migraine has been ranked as the seventh-highest specific
cause of disability in the world.
Cluster headache is one of the more severe headaches and does not commonly occur.
During a cluster headache attack, the patient suffers from excruciating pain usually
on one side of the head. The intensity of the pain is so severe, that it can awaken
the patient from sleep. These headaches are episodic. The episodes will start suddenly.
During an episode, the patient will suffer from a cluster level headache more than
once a day. Each episode may last for 1 to 3 months. The headache intensity will
peak within minutes of starting and will subside within an hour. In contrast to
a migraine, cluster headaches cause patients to become agitated and restless. In
some cases, the patient starts exhibiting bizarre behavior. Accompanying symptoms
include a runny nose, watery eyes, flushed face.
These headaches are secondary to a disease condition and do not get resolved until
the disease condition is resolved. These disease conditions irritate the pain sensitive
nerves of the head and thus cause the headache. Secondary headaches may arise from
a wide range of sources like: