The Four Most Common Headaches

In this article, discover some of the signs that can help you identify the four most common headaches.
The Four Most Common Headaches

Last update: 12 September, 2020

Headaches are one of the most common sources of discomfort. Although their cause may be uncertain, their symptoms can indicate the type of headache you’re having. Therefore, to treat the discomfort effectively, it’s important to determine the type of headache that’s tormenting you. In this article, discover some of the signs and clues that can help you identify the four most common headaches.

Headaches aren’t usually symptoms of serious or dangerous illnesses. Sometimes, they’re caused by stress, poor diet, or lack of movement. Other times, they can be a sign that something else is happening in your body.

It’s important to keep in mind that not all headaches are the same nor have the same causes. For this reason, it’s necessary to listen to your body and know some of the signs that can help you identify the type of headache you’re having.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), headaches are the most common health condition worldwide. The WHO ensures that when someone has headaches frequently, this can be a sign that they have a headache disorder. In addition, they also stated that most headache cases are adequately treated in primary care centers and don’t require specialists.

The four most common headaches

To relieve your headache, it’s important to determine the type of headache you’re having. Here are four of the most common headaches and their associated causes:

1. Migraine

A migraine is a neurological condition whose main symptom is a pulsating pain (like a heartbeat). Sometimes, it’s accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or hypersensitivity to light and sound. On the other hand, the migraine can vary from mild to intense. They often manifest on one side of the head, although they can also manifest on both.

A woman with a migraine.

A migraine may persist for several hours, with an average of 12 to 18 hours per manifestation, but it could also last for several days. In addition, a migraine can become so intense that the sufferer can’t do their normal daily activities.

Although the main cause of migraines is unknown, some associated factors have been discovered. For example, they can be caused by hormonal changes or some foods like chocolate, cured cheese, or drinks like wine. Strong smells, lack of sleep, or even stress could also be potential factors.

2. Tension headache

A tension headache is characterized by a dull, oppressive, and constant pain that begins in the forehead and neck. The sufferer can also feel pressure on both sides of their head.

The main cause of tension headaches is unknown. However, fatigue and stress are some of the factors that experts associate with this condition.

There are different treatments to reduce the pain, like applying cold or hot packs or practicing relaxation techniques. The pain is usually mild or moderate. Generally, the sufferer feels relief when the source of tension is soothed, but their headache can persist for hours and even days if this doesn’t happen.

3. Sinus headaches

This discomfort presents itself as pain in the face and head. Professionals often link it to an inflammation of the sinuses due to sinusitis.

Since it manifests during an infectious process, fever usually accompanies it. The discomfort intensifies with sudden head movement or over-exertion. Generally, a tension headache manifests after an infection in the upper respiratory tract, such as a cold.

To prevent one of these common headaches, we advise you to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

A woman with a sinus headache.

4. Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches are the most severe of the common headaches. They’re rare and  affect more men than women. Usually, they’re characterized by swelling, eyelid redness, teary eyes, and nasal congestion.

A cluster headache is also characterized by pain in the eyes or around them. Like the other types of headaches, the exact cause of this headache is unknown. However, certain habits such as smoking can cause a cluster headache. Additionally, the cause may be hereditary.

In conclusion, headaches can be triggered by a variety of factors. Keep in mind that a recurrent headache may be the first symptom of a serious disease. Therefore, you should go see your doctor if you don’t feel relief after taking common painkillers.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Forshaw, M. (2004). Understanding Headaches and Migraines.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.