More
close ad

Decoding Your Headache: How to Identify the Pain

Not all head pain is created equal. By identifying which type of ache you have now, you'll be able to keep it a bay in the future.

By Jessica Girdwain

  • Share
  • Print
  • view all thumbnails
Types of headaches
Illustration by Sarah J. Coleman
5 of 5
5 of 5
1 of 5
Migraine

Unlike other headaches, migraines are largely genetic. Common symptoms include nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. The week of your period is the worst for attacks because your estrogen levels are at their lowest.

1 of 5
2 of 5
Sinus

This kind is usually accompanied by sinus swelling and pain or pressure in the cheeks or forehead. But the majority of what people believe to be sinus headaches are actually migraines (which cause similar symptoms), so taking a decongestant might make you feel worse.

2 of 5
3 of 5
Tension

Often set off by stress or anxiety, the pain is usually dull and located on both sides of the head, around the forehead, temples or back of the head and neck. It may be caused by changes in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

3 of 5
4 of 5
Cluster

The exact cause is still unknown, but this type is rare and more prominent in men. Pain concentrates around the eyes, can occur a few times a day and may last weeks or even months.

Originally published in the September 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.

Health Disclaimer
All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

4 of 5
close