What Do Different Types of Headaches Mean?

A Look at the Different Types of Headaches

When you have a bad headache you may not much care which of the different types of headaches it might be. It’s painful, and you want relief. It’s important however to know a little about a headache you experience, as that knowledge may help you better deal with it when it next strikes, reduce its frequency or severity, or simply prevent it from reoccurring at all.

Some of the different types of headaches we may experience are rooted in the environment we find ourselves in, which can in some instance make them avoidable. The most common type of a headache, the tension headache, is one of these. Selling your children or quitting a high-paying but the super stressful job may be a remedy, but often, learning how to back off a bit and relax is a less drastic solution and often very effective.

Primary and Secondary Headaches

Headaches are generally classified as belonging to one of two types, primary headaches, and secondary headaches. At the risk of oversimplifying things, primary headaches have their roots in the head, and secondary headaches have their causes elsewhere. The person having the headache may not notice any difference between the two while a headache is in progress, but a primary headache is one that can be treated directly (whether the treatment leads to a cure or not), while a secondary headache requires treatment of the underlying cause in addition to treating the headache.

Tensions Headaches

A tension headache, a primary headache, is what most of us experience at one time or another. A tension headache may be mild or severe, but it seldom if ever is serious, and is not life-threatening. Treatment can consist of anything from taking an aspirin to lying down, to placing a cold cloth over the eyes or forehead. Tension headaches typically do not last long.


A more painful situation is usually encountered by someone suffering from a migraine headache. Roughly 10% of the population has experienced a migraine at one time or another and some individuals experience them with some frequency. Migraines are much more common among women than among men. Although migraines are not serious, they can be disabling for short periods of time, often up to a day. A person experiencing a migraine usually needs to lie down in a darkened and quiet place, often for several hours before the pain goes away.

The Worst of the Worst

The third type of a primary headache, the cluster headache, could be called the headache from Hell. In fact, it is often referred to as the “A suicide headache”. People experiencing a cluster headache would often be somewhere else but on this earth when a headache strikes. The pain has been described as being worse than childbirth and one of the more intense and excruciating kinds of pain anyone can experience. Fortunately, cluster headaches are quite rare. When they do occur, 8 out of 10 of the victims are men.

Secondary Headaches

Secondary headaches are brought about by some underlying disease or disorder, so the list of possible causes is a long one. Probably the most common cause of a secondary headache is trauma, being hit in the head or neck. A headache often will accompany a concussion, or be experienced by someone who has suffered from whiplash. A secondary headache can also be one of the symptoms of the flu or pneumonia and even a bad cold. While a headache, in this case, may not last long and maybe a mild one, it is apt to return until the underlying condition has been treated and cured. That is the nature of a secondary headache.

Vascular problems sometimes manifest themselves as a secondary headache. The conditions that lead to angina will on occasion cause pain in the head as well as in the chest. Usually when an activity that is being undertaken when such pain occurs ceases, the pain, both in the chest and in the head goes away. Also, arteries or veins in the neck or head can become inflamed, triggering a secondary headache.

When to Seek Help

If the headaches you are experiencing are not severe and do not occur frequently, you likely have little to worry about. If they persist, do not respond to medication or treatment, or are steadily becoming more frequent or more intense, you should see a doctor. If possible, keep a record of when your headaches occur, and if you know what the cause might be, keep a record of that as well, as it can help the doctor in making a proper diagnosis.

What Do Different Types of Headaches Mean, Last Update: 26/5/2017

4 thoughts on “What Do Different Types of Headaches Mean?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *