Most Common Types of Headaches

Migraine, tension, cluster, and sinus headaches are four of the most common types, but there are many more. It isn’t uncommon to suffer from a headache disorder and occasionally experience migraines or a different type of headache.

Migraine Headache


Migraines are a type of headache characterized by severe pain and will often disrupt your productivity at work and your ability to complete your household responsibilitiesCommon migraine side effects include feeling like your head is pulsing or throbbing and facial tingling. Auras—types of visual disturbances like seeing stars—are a common symptom among people with migraine disorders. While an aura can be disorienting, it is typically harmless. Migraines usually affect both sides of the head, but some migraines are limited to one side. The pain may induce nausea or vomiting and is generally amplified by exposure to bright lights and loud noises.

Tension Headache

Tension headaches feel like a taut band is squeezing your head. Unlike the severe pain accompanying migraines, tension headaches typically cause mild-to-moderate pain—most frequently in the forehead, sides, and back of your head. Tension headaches generally do not worsen when exposed to bright lights, loud noises, or other stimuli that tend to exacerbate migraine symptoms. The pain associated with these types of headaches is closer to an ache than the throbbing caused by a migraine. High stress levels are common causes of tension headaches.

Cluster Headache

Cluster headaches come in cycles. If you suffer from cluster headaches, you will experience a cluster period, wherein the headaches occur, and a remission period. During a cluster period, these types of headaches can last anywhere from minutes to hours. The unpredictability is often very taxing if you suffer from cluster headaches. These headaches cause acute pain that often subsides as abruptly as it begins. You will generally feel discomfort behind one of your eyes, but it can emanate to other regions of your face.

Sinus Headache

Sinus headaches cause pressure in your cheeks, forehead, and temple and typically worsen if you bend over or lie down. Fatigue and nasal congestion are also standard symptoms of sinus headaches. People with seasonal allergies frequently have this type of headache. Many migraine sufferers mistake their migraines for sinus headaches and do not receive proper treatment.

Should I See a Doctor?

If you suffer from frequent or severe headaches, it is generally a good idea to track when they happen, their severity, and what you are doing when the headache begins. Your doctor may be able to provide a diagnosis or refer you to a headache specialist.

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