- A Visual Guide to Migraine Headaches Slideshow
- Headache and Migraine Triggers Slideshow
- Take the Migraines Quiz
- Headaches FAQs
- Patient Comments: Headache - Effective Treatments
- Patient Comments: Headache - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Headache - Remedies
- Patient Comments: Headache - Causes
- Patient Comments: Headache - Nausea
- Find a local Neurologist in your town
- Headache definition and facts
- What is a headache?
- How are headaches classified?
- What are primary headaches?
- What are secondary headaches?
- What are cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches?
- 17 types of headaches
- What causes headaches?
- What causes tension headaches?
- What are the signs and symptoms of tension headaches?
- How are tension headaches diagnosed?
- How are tension headaches treated?
- What causes cluster headaches?
- What are the symptoms of cluster headaches?
- How are cluster headaches diagnosed?
- How are cluster headaches treated?
- Can cluster headaches be prevented?
- What diseases cause secondary headaches?
- How are secondary headaches diagnosed?
- What are the exams and tests for secondary headaches?
- When should I seek medical care for a headache?
- How do you get rid of a headache? Are home remedies effective for headaches?
Quick GuideMigraine or Headache? Migraine Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment
What are primary headaches?
Primary headaches include migraine, tension, and cluster headaches, as well as a variety of other less common types of headache.
- Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headache. Tension headaches occur more commonly among women than men. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 20 people in the developed world suffer with a daily tension headache.
- Migraine headaches are the second most common type of primary headache. Migraine headaches affect children as well as adults. Before puberty, boys and girls are affected equally by migraine headaches, but after puberty, more women than men are affected.
- Cluster headaches are a rare type of primary headache. It more commonly affects men in their late 20s though women and children can also suffer this type of headache.
Primary headaches can affect the quality of life. Some people have occasional headaches that resolve quickly while others are debilitating. While these headaches are not life-threatening, they may be associated with symptoms that can mimic strokes.
Many patients equate severe headache with migraine, but the amount of pain does not determine the diagnosis of migraine. A more full discussion of migraine headaches can be found later in this article.
What are secondary headaches?
Secondary headaches are those that are due to an underlying structural problem in the head or neck. This is a very broad group of medical conditions ranging from dental pain from infected teeth or pain from an infected sinus, to life-threatening conditions like bleeding in the brain or infections like encephalitis or meningitis.
Traumatic headaches fall into this category including post-concussion headaches.
This group of headaches also includes those headaches associated with substance abuse and excess use of medications used to treat headaches (medication overuse headaches). "Hangover" headaches fall into this category as well. People who drink too much alcohol may waken with a well-established headache due to the effects of alcohol and dehydration.
What are cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches?
Neuralgia means nerve pain (neur=nerve + algia=pain). Cranial neuralgia describes inflammation of one of the 12 cranial nerves coming from the brain that control the muscles and carry sensory signals (such as pain) to and from the head and neck. Perhaps the most commonly recognized example is trigeminal neuralgia, which affects cranial nerve V (the trigeminal nerve), the sensory nerve that supplies the face and can cause intense facial pain when irritated or inflamed.