yes, therapy helps!
The 11 types of headache and their characteristics

The 11 types of headache and their characteristics

December 3, 2022

Headaches are one of the most frequent causes of medical visits , according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, not all are equal. There are the pains caused by some disease, others that arise from stress, and those of a genetic type, better known as migraine.

In this article we will review the different types of headache and their characteristics .

Primary and secondary headache

Headaches cause great suffering to the person who suffers, but not all are equal and can be classified into two categories. It is possible to differentiate two major types of headache: primary and secondary headaches .


When talking about primary headaches we are referring to the fact that the headache is itself the disease. The same is not true for secondary headaches, in which the headache is a consequence of another disease, for example, the flu or a brain tumor.

Types of headache

But, going to the detail, what types of headache are there? what are their characteristics? Following the classification of the International Headache Society (ICHD-3), the types of headache are :

Primary headaches

There are several types of primary headaches; They are the following:

1. Tension headache

Tension headache is a very common type of headache, in which the person presents with an oppressive pain, that is, pressure on the head. Unlike what happens in other types of headache pain usually affects the two halves of the head .


Its causes can be varied: stress, fatigue, anxiety, excess coffee or tobacco. It can occur at any age, but it is more common in adolescents and adults.

2. Migraine

Migraine and tension headache account for 95% of primary headaches , so that if you have doubts about what happens to you, most likely this is the phenomenon that takes place in your body, unless the symptoms are far from what is here. It usually appears as recurrent attacks of headache on one side of the head, which can vary in its frequency, intensity and duration. In addition, they usually present together with nausea, vomiting and discomfort towards light and noise. Migraine is of genetic origin and is a chronic as well as an episodic condition.

  • There are different types of migraine. If you are interested, you can know them in this article: "The 7 types of migraine (characteristics and causes)"

3. Primary cuspal headache

This type of headache appears as a consequence of the cough, although it can also occur due to other valsalva maneuvers, that is, by exhaling air with the glottis closed or with the mouth and nose closed . Thus, it is the product of an action that is repeated over and over again, without us noticing, in the case of a bad habit, or in a timely manner because of a sudden alteration in our state.


For example, sneezing, laughing, bending over, crying, strength training with weights, etc. It usually appears suddenly right after the coughing and can affect part or both of the head. The pain can be oppressive or throbbing and the duration and intensity can vary depending on each case.

4. Primary headache due to physical exertion

This type of headache it has its cause in the prolonged physical effort . It seems that it is more frequent in men and neither the type of exercise nor the physical condition of the subject influence its appearance.

The person suffering from it usually presents with bilateral and throbbing pain that sometimes appears along with nausea and vomiting. It usually begins at the time of maximum physical effort and partially improves at the same time when physical activity ceases.

5. Headache associated with sexual activity

This type of headache It has its origin in intimate relationships . The symptoms appear bilaterally and the pain can vary in its form: oppressive, throbbing, throbbing. It can be accompanied by tachycardia, flushing, nausea, facial flushing and even dizziness. It usually lasts 30 to 60 minutes and can occur before orgasm, during orgasm or after orgasm.

6. Headache in primary thunder

Like the two previous ones, it can be initiated after a physical effort of high intensity or by having intimate relationships. However, is a type of explosive headache, which has a sudden onset and reaches its maximum intensity in the first minutes . Its intensity is moderate-severe and although it can occur anywhere in the head, it usually has an occipital location. Occasionally, it is presented together with sensitivity to light and sound and together with nausea and vomiting.

7. Cryostimulus headache

The cause of this type of headache is to come into contact with something cold , either inhaled, ingested or placed on the outside of the head. Therefore, it can appear, for example, after being exposed to a cold environment or when getting into water with a very low temperature.The pain is localized in the forehead, specifically in the middle area, it is of a pungent type and of short duration. It is usually common in patients suffering from migraine.

8. Headache due to external pressure

This headache appears due to the understanding of the head uninterrupted , specifically in the pericranial soft tissues. For example, for wearing a helmet, a hat or glasses.

Pain appears at the point where external compression occurs. It usually remits before the 60 minutes following the release of the compression that caused it.

9. Primary puncture headache

Primary puncture headache, as the name suggests, presents a sharp-pointed pain, usually intense and of specific location (frontal or temporal), although they can also change location. It appears spontaneously by doing some maneuvers, for example, movements of the head, changes in posture, etc.

10. Numular headache

This type of headache it is located only on the scalp and is chronic . Its duration can be variable, and the pain appears with a series of characteristics: in coin form, with a perfect contour, a round, fixed size and of 1-6 cm in diameter.

10 Hypical headache

Appears during sleep (night and naps) and interrupts it. It usually appears in people older than 50 years, although occasionally younger people may suffer from it. It lasts approximately between half an hour and 3 hours and the pain can be of many types.

11. Persistent daily headache de novo

This kind of headache also is known as chronic headache of recent onset and it is quite unusual. The symptoms may be similar to those of migraine or tension-type headache, although the symptoms often resemble the latter. It appears suddenly, and the symptoms manifest daily and uninterrupted.

Secondary headaches

As stated, these headaches they are secondary to another pathology . There is a lot of types:

  • Headache attributed to cranial or cervical trauma : They are the most common, and may appear after a trauma or whiplash. It occurs only with the headache or with other symptoms: dizziness, lack of concentration or motor slowing down.
  • Headache attributed to cranial and / or cervical vascular disorder : It usually appears next to vascular or cervical disorders, for example, a stroke.
  • Headache attributed to non-vascular intracranial disorder : The cause is other intracranial disorders that do not belong to the previous group
  • Headache attributed to the administration or suppression of a substance : Due to the use of medications or the withdrawal of these.
  • Headache attributed to infection : The cause is an infection, for example, the flu.
  • Headache attributed to homeostasis disorder : This type of headache is presented together with a disorder of homeostasis, for example: headache of great heights. Headache due to immersion or headache due to sleep apnea
  • Headache or facial pain attributed to a disorder of the skull , neck, eyes, ears, nose, paranasal sinuses, teeth, mouth or other facial or cranial structures.
  • Headache attributed to psychiatric disorder : Psychiatric disorders can be, for example, depression or anxiety.

What to do to cope with the headache?

Since there are many types of headaches, there is no universal solution to alleviate their symptoms and, specifically, the discomfort that occurs. On the other hand, there is no "cure" for these situations, since the headache is a manifestation of an underlying problem.

Once it has appeared, little can be done for the pain to go away automatically. What can be done is to intervene on the underlying problem and make the headache less likely to recur; for example, improving the diet, resting more, resting the sight, etc. In any case it is necessary to have medical supervision and diagnosis of what happens to attack its root.


Video: Types of Migraines | UPMC HealthBeat (December 2022).


Similar Articles