Types of Headaches

Listed below are the most common types of headaches.  There are many types of rarer headaches not included in the following discussion of headache types.

1. Migraine headaches without aura
 • Generally last 4-72 hours
 • Unilateral
 • Throbbing
 • Moderate or severe in intensity
 • Nausea and/or vomiting
 • Light or sound sensitivity

2. Migraine headaches with aura
 • Same as above
 • Associated with an aura such as flashing lights, loss of part of vision, speech difficulty, numbness, or vertigo lasting 5 to 60 minutes

3. Chronic migraine headaches
 • Diagnosis of migraine without aura
 • Headaches occur 15 or more days per month for greater than three months
 • Not all of the headaches may have migrainous features
 • Average headache duration is 4 hours a day

4. Cluster headaches
 • Unilateral
 • Distribution is around the eye or temple and stays the same for every attack
 • Durations is between 15 and 180 minutes
 • Usual associated redness of the eye, tearing of the eye, drooping of the eyelid and discharge from the nose on the same side as the headache
 • Pain is severe

5. Tension headaches
 • Can be episodic or chronic
 • Bilateral pressing pain (non-throbbing)
 • Mild to moderate in intensity
 • Usually not associated with nausea or light/sound sensitivity

6. New Daily Persistent headaches
 • Unremitting daily headache
 • Duration of greater than three months-can often remember exact time of onset
 • Usually bilateral, nonthrobbing
 • Mild or moderate intensity
 • Usually not associated with nausea, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity

7. Rebound headaches
 • Often called Medication Overuse headache
 • Regular overuse of medications for greater than three months
 • Headache occurs on 15 or more days per month
 • Headache returns to previous frequency with discontinuation of meds
 • Biggest offenders are Ergotamine, Triptans, analgesics, and Opioids

8. Secondary headaches
 • Headaches attributable to an identifiable cause such as head trauma, infection, tumor, stroke or autoimmune disease

Go to top