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Types of Headaches

Headache – discomfort or pain in the head or face – is second only to the common cold as the medical complaint heard most often. The pain from headache can be disabling causing people to miss work, school and social functions.

Headaches are also called cephalgias. Migraine are a different type of headache that has a list of different types of migraine symptoms.

Primary or secondary

Headaches that are described as primary aren’t blamed on any other underlying cause or condition. When the headache is a symptom of another disorder, injury or disease it is called a secondary headache. Most often, even if a it is caused by another disorder, the disorders are usually not serious.

Facts about headache

  • Each year, more than 10 million people go to the doctor or emergency room suffering from headaches
  • Headache is one the top 10 reasons people see the doctor
  • More than 80 percent of women in developed countries suffer from tension headache
  • About 65 percent of men complain of tension headache
  • Five percent of adults has a headache daily or almost daily
  • Headache is the most common bodily pain reported, according to a 1985 telephone survey of 1,254 Americans
  • Headaches lead to 127 million missed days from work annually
  • Headache is also a leading reason children miss days from school
  • Over 100 million headache sufferers in this country with about 40% with migraine/migrainous headache

What makes the head ache

The pain in a headache can originate in the network of nerves that are spread over the scalp, in the face, mouth and throat. Headaches can also come from pain in the head muscles or in the blood vessels in the brain.

Types of headaches

Different types of headaches are diagnosed based on symptoms. It is best to discuss your symptoms with your doctor.

When headaches can be dangerous

Most headaches are benign, harmless. However, in certain cases headaches can be a sign or symptom of a serious disorder or disease. Seek immediate medical attention if you have headaches with the following characteristics that:

  • Occur more frequently or increase severity
  • Happen every day
  • Occur suddenly and severely, similar to a thunderclap
  • Begin after age 50
  • Change in the pattern or nature of headaches
  • Cause seizures or confusion
  • Occur along with fever, severely elevated blood pressure, stiff neck, vision changes, changes in sensation, weakness, fainting or loss of coordination


Written by: Otesa Miles | Last reviewed: August 2014