What Kind of Headache do You Have?

Many of the patients I see suffer from headaches. The fact is, research shows that half of people suffer from some kind of headache every year, and nearly all will experience a headache at some time in their life. Sadly, many people even suffer from chronic headaches that affect them weekly or even daily.

I want to use this opportunity to share with you a little information on headaches that could hopefully help you find the best relief the fastest.


According to the classification list by the International Headache Society, there are over 150 different types of headaches with varying symptoms. While many of these are extremely specific, rare, or incidental, such as Cold-Induced Ingestion Headaches (more commonly called a “brain-freeze”) there are a few categories that are relatively common:

  • Migraines: Symptoms usually include sensitivity to light and sound and often occur on one side of the face, although feeling it on both is not uncommon. 1 in 3 persons will experience an aura (usually non-painful sensory disturbances) soon before their migraine starts. They tend to last for longer periods, sometimes days at a time.
  • Tension Headaches: These headaches typically feel like a band of tightness around the head and may be related to stress and anxiety, posture, or even such things as dehydration.
  • Trigeminal headaches: This category includes things such as Cluster headaches that tend to involve very sharp and intense debilitating pain on one side of the face, often behind the eye.

I want to bring up at this point that I will often here people (both doctors and patients) refer to all headaches as ‘migraines’. So be careful when you hear someone use this word that you know whether they are talking about headaches in general or true migraines.

Now that we’ve covered some basics, I’ll be using the next few weeks to uncover ways to beat headaches and help people find ways to reduce their symptoms. To start, though, if you’re suffering from headaches, the best thing you can do for yourself is start keeping a headache diary. I recommend downloading the app Migraine Buddy. Do it now, because the information you record there will be important in the weeks moving forward.