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5 Types of Headaches

Headache Types Quick Overview

  • While many people may think that every severe headache is a “migraine,” this label is actually reserved for headaches that meet specific criteria.
  • There are many different types of common headaches.
  • And, although some of the symptoms associated with each type may overlap, recognizing the distinct features of the headaches can help the patient and doctor determine the best treatment strategy.

1. Migraine Headache

Migraine headaches are commonly one-sided (unilateral). The pain is described as throbbing or pulsing, and worsens with routine physical activity, such as climbing a flight of stairs. The pain is typically moderate to severe. There is often associated nausea and/or vomiting, and there can be sensitivity to light, sound, or smells. Sometimes, the headache will awaken the individual from sleep. A migraine headache may last from several hours to 3 days.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/17/2017

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about 5 Types of Headaches:

Headache Types - Migraine

Do you suffer from migraines or a different type of headache?

Headache Types - Triggers

What causes your headaches? Have you identified your headache triggers?

How to Get Rid of a Headache

You can reduce how many headaches you get and how bad they are when you do get them. Try to:

  • Find and avoid triggers that cause your headaches.
  • Carry your medicine with you so you can treat a headache right away when you feel one starting. This is especially important if you get migraines.
  • Don't take over-the-counter pain relievers more than 3 times a week, because you may get rebound headaches. These headaches usually occur after pain medicine has worn off. This prompts you to take another dose. After a while, you get a headache whenever you stop taking the medicine.

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