Types of headaches: If you know the symptoms associated with your headaches, you will be able to distinguish the types of headaches. And, identification of different types of headaches will become easy for your neurologist also when he knows the symptoms associated with your headache. Knowing your symptoms is important because some headaches may be due to some unknown health condition or a problem which is not yet diagnosed. In some cases, your headache may be due to a very serious health issue – which may require immediate medical attention. Whatever may be the case, knowing the symptoms associated with your headache is important.

Based on the cause, headaches can be classified as follows:

Primary headache

It is a headache owing to hyperactivity of internal brain chemicals or owing to some issues associated with the pain-receptors of the body. But in general, this type of headache is not due to any serious health issue. However, there are some factors that play some sort of role in primary headaches including blood circulation, blood vessels, nerves, hormones and some chemicals in the brain and muscles.

Stress-related headaches, headaches following any tiring physical activities or exertion; migraines, cluster headaches are the typical examples of primary headaches. Sometimes, some types of headaches are associated with some underlying disease or condition – such as fever, cold, flu, allergies and even after sexual intercourse as well. Even these types of headaches are considered as primary headaches. In some cases, the primary headaches may also be due to some lifestyle-related issues such as sleeplessness, drug abuse, excessive alcohol consumption; improper body postures, anxiety, stress, depression, insomnia and eating habits.

Secondary Headache

If a headache is due to any disease or illness or due to a secondary cause, then it is termed as secondary headache. Any health condition, disease or illness capable of inducing pain sensitive nerves for prompting headache is able to induce secondary headaches. An individual may be subjected to a secondary headache owing to  several types of such conditions including dental problems, issues associated with the vagus nerve, excessive stress, hangovers, brain stroke, ear infection, cold, high fever, sinusitis, head injury, internal bleeding due to brain aneurysm,  high blood pressure, brain infections, meningitis, encephalitis, inflammation due to brain infection, irritation of the facial, dental and brain nerves due to neuralgia, headaches due to dental cavities – owing to tooth sensitivity, headaches occurring after consuming cold food items like pastries and ice-creams, and after drinking chilled soft drinks.

When should you visit a doctor?

When your headache is very severe and sudden and whenever you feel that this is the very trivial headache you have had in your life, then you should immediately seek medical help.

Sometimes it becomes very difficult for you to know the type of headache you have. And therefore, whenever you are a bit sceptical about the types of headaches and unable to judge which type of headache you are suffering from. It is better to seek medical help. At times, headaches occur suddenly and become very severe in a matter of few minutes or hours. If it is the case, then contact your neurologist and seek his or her help immediately without wasting any time.

Some types of headaches don’t get better even after taking over-the-counter medicines. If you are taking pain relievers on a regular basis and have done so for a week or so, without getting any sort of relief from your headaches, then, you should immediately call your neurologist and seek his or her appointment. Such types of headaches should never be neglected at any cost as they may signal some sort of underlying health condition, which may require medical intervention. Such types of headaches may fall under meningitis, encephalitis or stroke related headaches.

When should you seek emergency care?

Emergency care becomes pertinent for you – in other words becomes compulsory – if your headaches are accompanied with the following symptoms:

  • Drooping face, difficulty moving tongue, trouble speaking, listening and understanding
  • Severe body pain, high fever (greater than 102 F to 104 F (39 C to 40 C) and stiff neck
  • Trouble walking and moving around
  • Trouble seeing and sudden sight issues
  • Confusion, hallucinations or Delirium
  • Weakness in one side of the body particularly in one arm and leg
  • Drooping hand and face one side
  • Weakness in one or both the arms
  • Faintness, sudden vomiting
  • Nausea and vomiting if it is not related to migraine, flu or cold or to any other health issue
  • Numbness, body weakness or paralysis on one side