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Not All Headaches are Created Equally: Categorizing Headaches

Not All Headaches are Created Equally: Categorizing Headaches

Most have us have suffered a headache or two in our lifetime. Some severe, some mild, some that lasted 2 days, some that lasted an hour, some that may have been pounding, and some that may have made you feel sick to your stomach. Whatever symptoms of a headache you have or have had, they often get in the way of our daily living activities and can be quite debilitating.

It is important to know that not all headaches are the same and are unique to each individual. Understanding different types of headaches and how they are classified may help you better understand how to cope with symptoms better or allow you to help someone who is suffering.

Although a lot of research has been done on headaches, we still do not know the exact causes and reasons for certain headaches. We can, however, classify headaches into one of 4 categories. Does your headache seem to fall into one of these categories?

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches usually result in a pressure-like pain on both sides of the head, usually in the temples, forehead or back of the neck. Stress can be a trigger of this headache, but there are usually no warning signs. It can start mild and gradually get worse as the day or night progresses.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are the most uncommon form of headache. They occur in under 1% of the population and are more common in males. These headaches can be very severe and debilitating. Cluster headaches can occur for weeks and usually cause intense pain behind the eye. The cause is unknown; however, they usually result in a runny nose and watery eyes.

Migraine without Aura (Classic Migraine)

This is what we consider a typical migraine that results in a pulsing/ pounding pain on one or both sides of your head (usually temple). Nausea is often associated with migraines, although most people do not vomit. People who suffer from migraines are sometimes unable to perform activities of daily living due to their intensity. Lights and sounds often make the headache worse.

Migraine with Aura

Aura is the sensation or feeling you may have before a migraine. It may alert you that one is coming. Symptoms of migraine with aura may seem similar to those of a stroke, so it is important you talk to your doctor about it if you are experiencing this. For example, flashing lights, blurred vision, blind spots, speech difficulty and altered smell are considered aura.

Headaches can be very serious and should not be ignored. It is advised that if you have the “ worst headache ever,” you should seek immediate medical help. It is also possible to have headaches that are not classified as one in the above categories. Trauma, concussions, infection, dehydration, and allergic reactions are just some reasons that you may also experience headaches. Headaches are never “normal” and should not have to be something you deal with on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Many forms of alternative medicine can help you with your migraine symptoms. Here at Ottawa Holistic Wellness, we have many experienced therapists who can help you prevent, resolve, or alleviate headaches. For example, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, osteopathy, and allergy treatment may help.

Now I would like to hear from you.

Do you suffer from Headaches?

What have you tried to help your symptoms?

Let us know in the comments below.


This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.