The 10 Main Types of Headaches You Can Get and What to Do


Headaches are one of the most common health ailments and they’re most often treated with over the counter remedies. Some are intense and debilitating and others are mildly annoying. There are several different reasons why people get headaches. The causes may range from sinus infections, and stress to high blood pressure or other serious health conditions. Here are ten of the most common types of headaches and what you can do about them.

1. Tension headaches

A tension headache is a type that occurs most frequently. It happens most often when a person becomes too tired or when their stress levels are high. It is characterized by a dull pain and an aching sensation that can cover the entire area of the head. Tension headaches can also be felt from the forehead, the scalp and tenderness can even be felt in the shoulders and neck.


The best treatment for an occasional tension headache is an over the counter medication such as aspirin, naproxen, Excedrin or ibuprofen. Lowering stress levels and ensuring you get a full and restful night’s sleep can help to prevent tension headaches in the future. Some natural remedies include peppermint essential oil added to a coconut oil carrier and rubbed across the forehead. Adding flaxseed to your diet.

2. Caffeine Headaches

Caffeine Headaches can be experienced in two ways. You can get them from having too much caffeine or not enough. If you drink too much coffee or another beverage that is high in caffeine and your body isn’t used to it, you can develop a headache. The same is true if your body is accustomed to high levels of caffeine and you go without it for several hours. This happens frequently when a person attempts to quit caffeine cold turkey without weaning off. Caffeine increases the effectiveness of painkillers so it can be a painkiller on its own.


If you’ve had too much caffeine, the best remedy is to stop consuming it and take an over the counter painkiller. Switch to water or another type of non-caffeinated beverage and drink plenty. You can use a cold compress for 15 to 20 minutes at a time or try going outside and sitting on the bare ground. Getting some sleep if you can, may also help. If you’re having caffeine withdrawal headaches then either consume a small amount of caffeine or take an over the counter remedy such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Excedrin or naproxen.

3. Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are a group of headaches that occur in a series. The come and go over a period of time. They can last for a few minutes to several hours. They are recurring. Cluster headaches cause a severe burning sensation in one area of the face or head. You may also have nasal congestion or tearing of the eye, flushing, and redness of the face or sweating. They most often occur in the Fall and Spring seasons and men experience them more than women do.


You should see your doctor about painful cluster headaches. Some treatments that he or she may recommend include oxygen therapy or injections of Dihydroergotamine, Octreotide, or Triptans. Other treatments include local anesthetics in the form of a prescription nasal spray. Some things that can help to prevent cluster headaches are avoiding alcohol, getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night, taking Melatonin or using an anti-inflammatory drug which can either be prescribed by your physician or purchased over the counter.

4. Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches may be caused by allergic reactions or by an infection of the sinuses. Pain occurs in the bridge of the nose, in the cheeks and in the front of the head.


Sinus headaches are treated with decongestants to help relieve the pressure. If the cause is allergies, antihistamines such as Zyrtec or some other allergy medication with a decongestant or Sudafed may help to relieve the pain and discomfort. A Neti Pot may be used to flush the sinuses with saline and water solutions or an over-the-counter nasal spray may be used. Also taking a steamy shower can help loosen congestion and relieve headache pain. Eating spicy foods can also help to loosen congestion. You should stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Avoid dry air because this can increase the discomfort. Use a humidifier to moisten the air. A warm compress over the areas affected can also relieve pain and discomfort.

5. Exertion Headaches

This type of headache happens after a period of physical activity that is intense. Exercise such as weight lifting, training running and other types of intense workouts can cause a headache when the activity is done. It feels like a throbbing pain and it can happen on both sides of the head. This type of a headache may only last for a few minutes or it can extend for several hours. If vomiting, double vision or other symptoms occur with an exertion headache, it’s a good idea to see a medical professional immediately.


The most common treatment for an exertion headache is to take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Natural remedies include ginger in tea or in supplement form. To help prevent exertion headaches drink plenty of water and eat whole foods that are packed with nutritional value.

6. Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches are some of the most painful and debilitating types. They are characterized by a deep and intense pain inside the head that feels like it’s pulsating. They can cause visual issues, nausea and a sensitivity to light as well as blind spots. It is not known what causes migraines but it is suspected that genetic conditions, PTSD, allergies or exposure to toxins in the environment may be partly to blame.


The most common treatment for migraines is OTC medications such as anti-inflammatories. If these are not effective your physician may prescribe stronger and more effective medications such as Triptans, Sumatriptan, Rizatriptan, Amitriptyline or other medications. Some are given in pill form and others by injection.

7. Hypertension Headaches

This type of headache can be dangerous and you should see a doctor right away if you experience one. They are caused by dangerously high blood pressure. They are characterized by high blood pressure, nosebleed, chest pain, changes in vision and sometimes numbness.


Your physician will prescribe medications to lower your blood pressure and if this is the cause the headache will leave when your blood pressure returns to normal. Other medications that may help with the pain are Ibuprofen o aspirin and sitting in a dark room may also help.

8. Rebound Headaches

Rebound headaches result from overusing some medications. The pain is like a tension headache in most cases but it can become as severe as a migraine. This can happen from taking too many OTC pain relievers.


The best treatment for this type of headache is to work with a health care professional to find alternative methods for treatment and to start weaning off pain medications with other help as recommended by your doctor.

9. Hormonal Headaches

These headache types are caused by an imbalance in hormones in the body. They are the most common in women.


The most common treatment for hormonal headaches is Naproxen. Your physician may also suggest natural remedies including stress reduction exercises, detoxing baths in Epsom salts and lavender oil, massage therapy, sleep, yoga, acupuncture, staying hydrated and getting plenty of sleep.

10 Post Traumatic Headaches

This headache type happens as the result of a head injury. The pain is similar to a tension headache and they can develop within 7 days of the time that the injury happened.


OTC medications such as aspirin, naproxen or ibuprofen are the most common treatment. If these do not adequately relieve the pain, you may want to see your doctor who may prescribe a stronger medication.

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