16 Types of Headaches, Their Triggers, Causes, Remedies

Want to know what causes your particular headache? Well, headaches are of many types and each has its own triggers.

Headaches can be caused by a number of factors, including stress, fatigue, diet, and too much caffeine or alcohol.

While any pain in the head area is generally termed as a headache, there are different classes and types of headaches with their particular triggers, characteristics, and treatments.

Today at ListPink, we will list all the common types of headaches, what they are, and the causes behind them. So, if you are not sure what type of headache is yours, continue reading.

Headaches can be classified into two major types:

Primary Headaches


Primary headaches, also known as primary headache disorders, are headaches that occur for no known reason. These headaches are often chronic (meaning they happen often) and sometimes debilitating.

Primary headaches are, in fact, the most common type of headaches.

Types of Primary Headaches

Primary headaches are further classified into a number of categories depending on their type, frequency, and causes.

1. Migraines

Migraine Headaches are one of the most common types of primary headaches. It is a complex neurological disorder characterized by recurrent attacks of moderate to severe pain in the head, often with nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity to light or sound.

Triggers:

  • Migraines are thought to be caused by changes in the brain that affect the way sensory information is processed.
  • These changes are thought to be the result of genetic, environmental, and other factors.

2. Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches (CHs) occur in groups or “clusters” over many weeks or months. CHs are the most painful type of headache and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

CHSs can be precipitated by certain activities such as heavy alcohol use, and smoking. The headache typically lasts one to two hours and can return immediately after remission, which is typically in one to 24 hours.

Triggers:

  • Stress, bright light, certain foods.
  • Sleep disorders can also cause the problem.

3. Migraine With Aura

A migraine with aura is a headache in which a person has a visual disturbance in the form of a bright spot or a flashing light or a temporary loss of vision in one or both eyes. This is followed by pain in the head. This may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

Triggers:

  • Stress, bright light, certain foods.
  • Sleep disorders can also cause the problem.

4. Tension Headaches

These are headaches that come on suddenly and are felt in the head and neck. It is accompanied by muscle tension and fatigue.

Triggers:

  • Stress.
  • Hormonal imbalances like menstruation and menopause.
  • Due to the intake of certain medications and recreational drugs.
  • Lack of sleep.

5. Trigeminal Autonomic Cephalalgia (TAC)

TAC is a neurological disorder characterized by attacks of intense pain in the head, usually in the vicinity of one or both eyes. The pain can be intense enough to cause nausea and vomiting. The pain may last for up to several hours. Attacks may happen several times a year or less.

Triggers:

TAC is is a more complex condition that involves other headache types like migraines, and cluster headaches. You can read a detailed study published in the National Institute of Health for further details.

6. Chronic Daily Headaches

A daily headache is a headache that occurs every day for more than 15 days each month for more than three months. Both migraine and tension-type headaches are common types of daily headaches. Chronic daily headaches are more common in women than in men.

Triggers:

  • Light stimuli aggravate the symptoms.
  • Infections, such as meningitis.
  • Brain tumor.
  • TBI (Traumatic brain injury).

7. Cough Headaches

Cough headaches are headaches that are precipitated by coughing. These headaches are most commonly experienced by people with asthma or upper respiratory tract infections.

Triggers:

  • Upper respiratory tract infections.
  • Asthma.
  • Allergies.
  • Facial injury.
  • Change in posture.

8. Exercise Headaches

These are defined as headaches that occur during or soon after physical activity. You may also experience an exercise headache after an hours-long walk especially during hot weather.

Triggers:

  • Strenuous exercise.
  • Getting overheated.
  • Hot weather or warm surroundings.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Skipping meals before an activity.

9. Sex Headaches

Sex headaches are characterized by intense pain in the head that occurs during or after sexual activity. The pain usually lasts less than an hour. It is not clear what causes this type of headache.

Other Primary Headache Types

Some other primary headaches that are mostly temporary and don’t pose any serious problems include headaches after alcohol consumption, particularly red wine, eating certain foods such as processed meats that contain nitrates. Such headaches are also caused by lack of sleep, poor posture, hunger, and stress.

Secondary Headaches


A secondary headache is caused by an underlying medical condition. Stroke, for example, can lead to headaches, as can injuries to your neck, head, or shoulders. These headaches are not primary headaches. They are usually caused by an underlying condition, such as an infection, illness, or injury.

Types of Secondary Headaches

Like primary headaches, secondary headaches also have a number of types. We will only talk about six of the most common ones here.

1. Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches are headaches behind and around the eyes and nose and forehead. They may radiate to the cheeks and the forehead. They usually last for less than 24 hours.

Triggers:

  • Colds and influenza.
  • Nasal allergies.
  • Allergic rhinitis.
  • Deviated septum.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Dental problems.

2. External Compression Headaches

External compression headaches are caused by compression of the dura mater or, less commonly, the brain itself. External compression headaches are often caused by inflammation of the meninges. The dura mater is the outermost of the three membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord.

Triggers:

  • Increased intracranial pressure due to wearing gear, subarachnoid hemorrhage, or inflammatory conditions involving the meninges.
  • Spinal anesthesia or epidural anesthesia.
  • Spinal cord compression.
  • Compression of the cranial nerves.
  • Compression of the cervical spine.
  • Cervical spondylosis.

3. Icecream Headaches (ICH)

ICH is also known as “brain freeze”. It is typically associated with eating very cold foods or drinks. Chills or shivering may accompany the headaches. The symptoms usually subside within seconds or minutes.

Triggers:

  • Drinking very cold liquid.
  • Eating ice cream.

4. Medication Overuse Headaches

Medication overuse headaches (MOHs) may be defined as headaches that develop as a direct consequence of the overuse of medications (analgesics and/or anti-inflammatory drugs). The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified this kind of headache as a secondary headache.

Triggers:
As the name suggests, medication overdose.

5. Spinal Headaches

A spinal headache is a headache located in the neck, back of the head, and shoulders, and may radiate to the front and sides of the head. A headache of the non-spinal type may also be present. Similar to tension-type headaches, they can often be triggered by neck movements or certain postures.

Triggers:

  • The cause of most headaches of this type is unknown.
  • Tumors of the spine or brain.
  • Infections of the spine or brain.
  • Injuries to the spine or head.
  • Disorders of the cervical spine.
  • Certain neurologic disorders, such as multiple sclerosis.
  • Certain medications, such as opiates, steroids, and anticonvulsants.

6. Thunderclap Headaches

These headaches usually include sudden and severe pain and may accompany nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to noise and light, and temporary hearing loss.

Triggers:

  • Infections, such as sinusitis, otitis media, or pneumonia.
  • Traumatic injury to the head or neck causing a tear in the inner lining of the artery.
  • Carotid dissection.
  • Carotid artery stenosis.
  • Brain tumor.
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Home Remedies to Relieve Headaches


While over-the-counter medications can offer instant relief, they may come with certain side effects as well. It is also possible that you can’t get the drugs at the moment. So, what then? Well, there are a number of great home remedies that can provide relief. Check this list of 15 home remedies for migraines.

So, were you able to figure out what type of headache is yours? While most of the common headaches are treatable at home, we recommended visiting a doctor in case your headache is persistent and intense.

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