Understanding the Different Types of Headaches

Understanding the Different Types of Headaches

Your brain is a complex structure. As an integral part of everything you do, your brain communicates with itself by carrying chemicals from one nerve, or neuron, to the next. This chemical activity in your brain sometimes causes headaches.

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably experienced one, or many, headaches in your lifetime. Most headaches entail a throbbing, distracting pain that makes it hard to concentrate. 

Chances are your headache is different from the one your friend experiences. Did you know there are over 150 different types of headaches?

Jason Chiu, MD and his dedicated team at The Painless Center, located in Carlstadt and Tenafly, New Jersey, are here to help resolve your headaches. Read on to learn about some of the most common types of headaches and what you can do to help them.

Tension headache

A dull pain all over your head, not throbbing, is what you might feel if you have a tension headache. Others describe it as similar to having a tight band wrapped around your head. Sometimes tenderness may occur on areas like your neck, forehead, scalp, or shoulders. 

Although a tension headache is the most common type of headache, its causes are misunderstood. Many people link their tension headaches to increased levels of stress. 

For many, an over-the-counter pain reliever may be enough to resolve the tension headache. For others, it may require a stronger solution prescribed by Dr. Chiu. 


You probably know someone who suffers from migraines, or maybe, you experience them yourself. That’s because migraine affects 39 million Americans and many more worldwide.

Migraine is much more than just a bad headache. It’s a neurological condition with debilitating neurological symptoms. The pain can be described as a severe, throbbing pain deep in your head. Many people experience pain on only one side of their heads. 

Migraine sufferers often experience sensitivity to light and sound during an episode. Some even experience nausea or vomiting. Roughly  20% of people experience migraines accompanied by visual disturbances that start before the migraine strikes.

Women are three times more likely to experience migraines than men. Many people have migraine attacks that run in their families. Regardless of the situation, you deserve to find a solution.

The first line of treatment is over-the-counter painkillers. However, if you’re like many, these might not improve the pain. Dr. Chiu may prescribe a triptan, a drug that changes the blood flow to your brain and decreases inflammation. 

Allergy headache

When you’re exposed to a substance to which your body is allergic, you may experience pain in the front of your head or your sinus area. If you have chronic allergies or sinusitis, you’re more likely to experience allergy headaches.

Treatments for allergy headaches work to thin the mucus that builds up, causing a headache. Nasal steroid sprays and over-the-counter decongestants, like Sudafed PE® or Zyrtec-D® Allergy, may provide relief for some people.

Have you tried these medications before with no luck? You may have been misdiagnosed. Approximately 90% of migraines are misdiagnosed as allergy headaches. Get a second opinion today with Dr. Chiu, and start a treatment that actually works.

Cluster headache

A cluster headache is typically described as a severe burning and stabbing pain usually behind one eye or on one side of your face. Swelling, redness, or sweating may occur on the side experiencing pain.  

Cluster headaches often strike in a group. Most people with cluster headaches experience one to four headaches a day, ranging in duration from 15 minutes to three hours. The headaches can occur daily for months and then subside, leaving people without symptoms for months at a time. 

Though doctors are unsure what causes cluster headaches, there are effective ways to manage the pain. Dr. Chiu may suggest Sumatriptan, oxygen therapy, or local anesthetic.

Caffeine headache

Drinking coffee before work is a common ritual in which many Americans indulge. The average cup of coffee contains 95 mg of caffeine, with many people drinking more than one cup and other caffeine-containing drinks. 

Caffeine impacts the blood flow to your brain. Routinely drinking caffeine can allow your brain to become dependent on it, and when you don’t consume enough, you may experience a caffeine headache. Similarly, when you drink too much caffeine, you may also get a headache. 

You can treat a caffeine headache with an over-the-counter pain reliever. Although this offers a short-term cure, the best way to prevent caffeine headaches long term is by limiting your caffeine intake or cutting it out completely. 

No matter what kind of headache you’re experiencing, you deserve to find a cure. Contact us today to find relief once and for all.

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