Types Of Headaches Migraine Headaches Types

Migraines come in several types; some are more common than others. Below you’ll find descriptions of the two major migraine types, as well as some of the lesser-known conditions.

The Classic Migraine Headache

Migraine with aura is often referred to as “classic.” Less than half an hour before the actual pain begins, the individual experiences “aura.” Aura usually involves visual sensory illusions, such as jagged bands of light obscuring vision, or a shimmering light around the edges of objects. Other senses, such as hearing and smell, may also be affected.

The Common Migraine Headache

Common migraines are simply those that present without aura. Only about twenty percent of sufferers experience aura. Most people bypass the aura phase.

Rebound Headaches

Common among migraine sufferers, rebound headaches occur when pain medication is overused. Overuse causes the body to become resistant to the medication, so to be effective larger doses are required, leading to even further resistance. The result is often more frequent headaches or a worsening of existing symptoms. Rebound headaches are possible if medication for treatment or prevention of headaches is used three or more times a week.

Other Types of Migraine Headaches

Ocular: During an ocular migraine, the blood vessels of the eyes, rather than those of the skull or brainstem, spasm and instead of pain, the sufferer becomes aware of lights in the peripheral vision. Often jagged and pastel colored in nature, the light disturbance intensifies, and enlarges until it is centered in the eye. Ocular migraines typically fade away after about fifteen to twenty minutes. Some people report a mild headache after this experience, while others simply feel fatigued.

Ophthalmoplegic: Like ocular migraines, an ophthalmoplegic migraine is centered in the eye. In this form, however, pain is definitely present, and is often accompanied by vomiting. As the headache progresses, the muscles responsible for eye movement are temporarily paralyzed, and the eyelid assumes a droopy appearance. The eyelid may remain droopy for weeks afterwards.

The Headache-Free Type: In this type, aura occurs without an actual headache. It only presents itself in individuals with a history of migraine attacks.

Basilar Artery: This specific type involves the basilar artery in the brainstem, and can cause pain, vertigo, speech and vision problems, and poor coordination. Children are more likely to experience this type than adults.

Carotidynia: Also known as “facial migraine,” or “lower-half headache,” this type causes pain in the jaw and neck regions. Depending on the individual, the pain may be dull and aching, or sharp and piercing, and is often accompanied by tenderness of the carotid artery. More common in the elderly population than other groups, carotidynia may last for hours, and often occurs more than once a week.

Status: This type is characterized by long-lasting and severe pain. The pain often lasts over three days, and hospitalization for pain relief may be necessary.


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PainCare, Inc. (nd). What you should know about rebound headache.