When it comes to any pain in the head region, most of us will label it as “just a headache,” take an over-the-counter pain reliever, and move on with our day. However, headaches are much more complicated than this. There are over 100 types of headaches, each with its own unique causes, symptoms, and remedies. Learn about the most common types of headaches so that the next time head pain strikes, you can get a more specific diagnosis, and a better treatment plan.
Headache Category: Primary
A primary headache occurs because of the headache condition itself, and is not due to an underlying disease. The most common primary headaches include:
- Migraine: A severe, throbbing headache that usually occurs on one side of the head. Symptoms include muscle tension, nausea, and vomiting, as well as increased sensitivity to light and sound.
- Cluster Headaches: A series of relatively short, but intensely painful headaches that occur everyday for weeks or months at a time. Sufferers experience one-sided pain, usually centered around one eye, and symptoms such as, red or teary eyes, runny or stuffy nose, flushing or sweating of the face or a sense of agitation.
- Tension Headache: Head pain that is dull and aching, and feels like a tight band around the head.
If you have a stable pattern of headache over many months or years, it is most likely a primary headache condition. Head into an Advanced Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine clinic for a proper diagnosis. Our medical team can provide medication and recommend lifestyle changes to help you manage your pain.
Headache Category: Secondary
A headache is secondary when it is a symptom of another disease or condition. There are a multitude of conditions that can affect the pain-sensitive nerves in the head and lead to secondary headaches. Common conditions and diseases that cause secondary headaches include:
- Dental problems
- Ear infection (middle ear)
- High blood pressure
- Medications to treat other disorders
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Overuse of pain medication
- Panic attacks and panic disorder
- Pressure from tight headgear
- Sinus infection
As well as more serious, life-threatening conditions, such as:
- Brain aneurysm
- Brain tumor
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Encephalitis (brain inflammation)
The American Migraine Foundation provides this helpful list of warning signs to help determine if your headache is caused by an underlying condition. Seek emergency help for:
- Abrupt, severe headache
- Headache with a fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness, or speaking difficulties
- Headache after a head injury, especially if the headache gets worse
In other instances, simply walk into an Advanced Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine clinic. Our friendly medical team can evaluate your head pain, assess additional symptoms, and recommend a treatment plan to help you find relief. Headaches are common, but you don’t have to live with the pain. Let us help you better understand and treat your headaches. Click here for a list of our locations along Colorado’s Denver metro area.