What Kind of Headache Do I Have?

Headaches are a real pain. They can range from being mild and annoying, to seriously debilitating. Per the CDC, approximately 80-90% of people have suffered or will suffer from a headache, most of those people will have headaches several times a year. The biggest issue when it comes to headaches, is that often they are misdiagnosed as most people will not see a doctor due to having a headache. However, it is important to know what type of headache you have and what are the appropriate actions to treat these:


The word migraine is the second most-often used word to describe headaches, yet most people will never have a migraine. Migraine headaches are one of the most debilitating type of headaches as the severity of the headache is often described as ranging from moderate to severe and these types of headaches tend to happen more frequently. Studies state that 91% of people with migraines report not being able to function normally during an episode. For migraines to be diagnosed, they must meet some of these requirements:

Although doctors don’t know exactly why these headaches happen, they assume it has something to do with genetics. The best way to manage migraine headaches, is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Here are a couple of tips and tricks to prevent migraines:

Avoid Triggers
If you notice that poor sleep, alcohol, or caffeine results in migraines, avoiding these is the best way to prevent them. Everyone has different triggers; it is important to keep track of the activities during the day to correctly identify potential triggers.

Full Night Rest
Most people report having migraines after lack of sleep. As a migraine sufferer, it is important to have 6-8 hours of restful sleep and avoid stressors during the day.

For some, certain foods or drinks can trigger migraines. Eating clean foods and having a good diet can help avoid migraine episodes.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are recurring headaches that are limited to one side of the head. Like migraines, the cause for these headaches are also unknown. Cluster headaches are more commonly identified as “headache behind the eyes.” These headaches are shorter than other types of headaches, but are extremely painful, and tend to happen every day for weeks or months. These headaches also tend to re-occur every year around the same time, thus they are commonly misdiagnosed as allergy headaches. Cluster headaches have the following characteristics:

Cluster headaches must be diagnosed by a doctor, as the effects of the headaches are short but seriously debilitating. While there is no cure for these headaches, a doctor can provide medication to shorten the length of the time the headaches last or decrease the severity of the headaches. Additionally, surgery may be an option for those who only have a minimal amount of time between cycles (sometimes as few as only 14-day headache-free days throughout the year). These surgeries can the nerve that causes the pain.

Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches occurs when inflammation of the sinuses causes pressure on the nerves around the head. It is important to note that per the American Migraine Foundation, 9 out of 10 people who think they are suffering from a sinus headache are actually suffering from a migraine. Sinus headaches usually have accompanying symptoms, such as:

If correctly identified, sinus headaches could stem from bacterial infection. In which case, antibiotics are necessary to treat the infection. Antihistamines can also help decrease the amount of swelling of the sinuses.

Musculoskeletal Headaches

Musculoskeletal headaches are type of headaches that stem from stress in the head or neck muscles. The most common type of musculoskeletal headaches is Tension Headaches. Tension headaches are also the most common types of headaches. Common causes of tension headaches are:

Daily Stressors 
Anxiety and worry are major causes of tension headaches. Day to day activity which causes emotional such as a rigorous course load, a fast-paced work environment, among other things can cause tension headaches.

Muscle Strain 
Have you ever had a headache after staring at a screen for too long? Or sitting in an uncomfortable position that put strain on your neck and upper back? Or after crying? These are tension headaches, which have developed after putting stress on a muscle or nerve.

Most tension headaches have the following symptoms:

Tension headaches are often relieved by relaxing the muscle that has been stressed, so physical therapy can actually do a lot to help tension headaches. Frequent tension headaches in the same area could mean that the muscle that is causing the headache is never fully relaxed, either due to injury or constant stress. If you are suffering from recurring tension headaches and do not know what to do, call Tarpon Orthopedics today to schedule an appointment with one of our specially trained doctors. Call 9725961059 or request an appointment online!

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