Pain Causes Headaches Migraines

Headaches are a common complaint. Just about every person will have some type of headache at some time in their life. Some of the most common types of headaches are:

  • cluster headaches
  • migraine headaches
  • sinus headaches
  • tension headaches.

Common Causes of Headaches - Headaches and Migraines

Each headache type has different causes, symptoms and treatment options.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are named after their tendency to occur in cyclical patterns, or clusters. These headaches are intense and can last for 30 minutes to one hour. Cluster headaches happen most often during the morning or late at night. Chronic smokers and those who drink alcohol are the most common sufferers of cluster headaches.

Cluster headaches generally come on with no warning whatsoever. Symptoms of a cluster headache include:

  • bloodshot eyes
  • runny nose
  • severe, stabbing pain on one side of the head, often around the eye
  • watery eyes.

The pain of these headaches is particularly intense and most people cannot perform their regular activities during one of these headaches.

Treatment for cluster headaches includes medication to prevent the headaches as well as to treat the pain of the headaches. Your doctor may prescribe beta blockers, anticonvulsants or migraine medications to help treat these types of headaches.

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are intense headaches that can interfere with a person’s normal routine. Many sufferers have a family history of migraines, and women are more likely to have them than men.

A migraine usually begins with a dull, throbbing ache and gradually progresses to a constant throbbing ache that is usually felt on one side of the head. Many people that have migraines also experience:

  • extreme sensitivity to light and noise
  • nausea
  • vomiting.

Migraine symptoms can vary in degree from mild to severe and can last as little as four hours or as long as several days.

Some people get migraines from triggers, such as physical or environmental issues or certain foods. Most migraine sufferers are asked to keep a log of their activities and diets in order to get an idea of what triggers their migraine headaches. Once the trigger has been identified, various lifestyle changes can be implemented to prevent future migraines.

Migraine treatment falls into two categories: treating the current migraine and avoiding future migraines. To this end, many doctors prescribe prescription medications to migraine sufferers.

Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches are generally caused by sinus blockage. A person’s sinuses are located behind the forehead bones and cheekbones as well as behind the bridge of the nose. When the sinuses are inflamed due to allergies or some type of infection, a sinus headache can result. This type of headache is often accompanied by a fever. Sinus headaches often require a visit to your doctor. Treatments for sinus headaches include:

  • antibiotics for infection
  • antihistamines
  • decongestants.

Sinus headaches usually clear up once the cause of the sinus headache has been identified and treated.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches have a variety of causes. These can include:

  • depression
  • fatigue
  • physical problems
  • psychological problems
  • stress.

Tension headaches can become chronic, and women are more likely to suffer from them than men. For people who suffer from these headaches, it is important to establish the cause of the tension headache. Physical and environmental issues as well as emotional factors should be explored.

Tension headaches are characterized by dull pain and pressure, usually on both sides of the head. The pain may extend to the neck, as well. Tension headaches can last from 30 minutes to several days.

Treatment for tension headaches includes an array of things to both minimize the current pain and prevent future headaches. The following are often used to treat tension headaches:

  • avoiding and minimizing causes
  • engaging in biofeedback and relaxation exercises
  • taking over-the-counter medication
  • taking prescription medication.

If a person suffers from headaches, it is important to get a proper diagnosis so that the correct treatment can be used. A doctor can help someone decide what type of headache they have and can suggest ways to both treat them and avoid future headaches.

Resources (2007). Headache Types. Retrieved August 27, 2007, from the Web site: (n.d.). Headache Types. Retrieved August 27, 2007, from the Web site:

Mayo Clinic Staff (2006). Common Headache Types. Retrieved August 27, 2007, from the Web site: