What is your type of headaches?

Knowing your type of headaches is the first step in getting rid of the pain!  99% of the population gets a headache sometime in their lives.  Chances are you've had more than one type of headaches, and maybe even more than one at the same time!  But to get proper treatment, it's critical to get a proper diagnosis.

Woman with headaches


But how many types are there?  That's a challenging question.  The International Classification of Headache Disorders 2nd Edition lists 14 main types, but that's misleading because some of those include the non-specific "other".  In fact, migraine is only one type, and there are 6 types of migraine listed with another 17 subtypes.  4 types of tension-type headache make the list, with another 9 subtypes below that.

Doctors and researchers don't even agree on these types.  Part of the challenge is that we don't understand every type of headaches.  It could be that many have a common root.

Let's keep it simple - sort of

There are different ways to categorize headaches.  In the simplest terms, there are only two types of headache, and headache related disease.  First are the secondary headaches.  These are headaches that are obviously caused by another problem, and usually it's that problem that needs to be solved.  For example, you just got hit in the head with a baseball bat.  Or you have a viral infection, or inflammation around the brain.  Or you have some other disorder or disease that is causing the problem.

When you have a worse-ever headache, or a headache you've never had before, it's critical that you see a doctor to rule out some of these possible causes.

Secondary headaches include things like allergy headache and sinus headache (from sinusitis).

The second type is the primary headache.  In a primary headache, it's the headache itself that's the main problem, not the underlying cause (it may be that we simply don't know the cause).  For example, if you have migraine, medical science does not yet fully understand the cause.  However, the main concern is to get rid of the symptoms.  (At the same time, we do recognize that some of these conditions such as migraine may do serious damage to the body)

Secondary headaches are the ones mostly discussed in the articles on this website.  Migraine and cluster headaches are often called secondary headaches.

(Remember, however, that headache is only one possible symptom of migraine - a migraine is not just a bad headache, and may not involve headache pain at all. Some researchers now believe that cluster "headaches" may be the same.)

Read about your type of headaches now!

Below is a list, in alphabetical order, of common headache diagnoses.  If the word "migraine" is in your diagnosis, look under migraine.  If you've heard any of these from your doctor, take the time to investigate more.

Note:  These are not all "official names" of headache types.  I use them here because they are terms still in common use.  But I will try to direct you to a clearer diagnosis in the article itself.Why wasn't "Cluster migraine" on the list?  Read Get Rid Of Cluster Migraine Once And For All.

If you're looking for more information, check out the HeadWay archives.  We probably discussed your type of headache between issues #44 to #51.  Then sign up for the new issues here!