Even though a pain in your head in a headache, there are actually multiple headache types, including primary and secondary headaches as well as migraines. At first, it may be difficult to distinguish between the varying types but each has its own set of characteristics. The symptoms of each headache are different as well as the causes of each. Here’s a look at the differences between these headache types.

Headaches are classified as either a primary headache or a secondary headache. Primary headaches include migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches. Migraines are a recurring, debilitating headache that is characterized by a throbbing on either the left or ride side of the head along with additional symptoms. Cluster headaches, the least common of the three primary headaches include pain often described as a stabbing feeling behind one eye as well as nasal congestion. Tension headaches are the most common headache type as they are considered a mild, dulling pressure with any additional symptoms.

Migraine vs. Headache: How to Tell Them ApartThe other category of headaches is secondary headaches. Far less common than other headaches, these are usually much more dangerous due to the face that they are the result of an underlying condition. Serious health conditions (for example: a brain aneurysm, inflammatory disease, tumor, or irregularities with spinal fluid) have all been known to cause headaches.

Doctors must diagnose and treat the underlying condition first in order to address the headache.

In order to obtain the proper treatment, you must understand what type of headache you are experiencing. Most likely, you can assess this yourself by going over the symptoms you are experiencing. If you are unsure, consult a doctor who can also help you determine the type. If you are experiencing a severe headache along with other neurological symptoms, doctors can perform a neurological exam to determine if it is a secondary headache. Migraines can be identified by their symptoms as well. Migraines are typically a very severe headache, often described as a throbbing sensation. It can include symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and extremely sensitivity to light, sound and smell.

Migraine vs. Headache: How to Tell Them ApartAccording the Department of Health and Human Services, migraine and tension type headaches can both cause mild to moderate pain. Migraine as well as secondary headaches are known to cause moderate to severe levels of pain. Another way to determine the type is to think about the intensity of pain you are experiencing. If the pain is distracting but not debilitating, it is probably a tension headache. If the pain becomes debilitating, it is probably a migraine.

The location of your pain is also a factor in determining the specific headache type. Migraines are most often associated with pain on either the left or right side of the head, while tension and cluster headaches can be felt on both sides. However, it should be noted that people suffering from migraines can experience pain over the entire head, behind the ears and eyes as well as the temples.

If you are having trouble determining the headache type from the headache pain, take a look at the other symptoms you are experiencing, if any. Migraines have the greatest number of additional symptoms. You can also gauge the headache by its reaction to medication. One sign of a secondary headache would be if the headache does not improve with treatment.

There are many characteristics of a headache you can assess yourself. However, if you are having difficulty determining the specific headache type you are experiencing, consult your doctor for assistance.

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