No one likes dealing with a headache. While many headaches can be treated with simple pain meds and go away within a few hours, some people experience more serious, persistent, and common headaches that can be extremely painful and debilitating. Many people may not realize that there are several different kinds of headaches that can all affect a person differently. The healthcare providers at Family Practice Center have outlined some of the most common types of headaches below to help our readers better understand what they may be dealing with and how they can be treated.


Migraines are a severe form of chronic headache. They are typically associated with intense pounding, throbbing pain, usually on just one side of the head. For some people, they can occur as frequently as once a week and last as long as three days each time. Additional migraine symptoms include sensitivity to light, noise, and certain smells. Some people also experience blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and severe stomach pain. Although the causes of migraines are not completely known, they are associated with family histories, pre-existing conditions like depression, and common triggers like anxiety, sleep disruption, dehydration, and skipping meals. Migraines are three times as likely to occur in women than in men.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are considered the most common type of headache among adults and adolescents. They often take the form of dull, constant pain on both sides of a person’s head. Other symptoms of tension headaches include pressure behind the eyes, sensitivity to light and sound, and tenderness in the face, head, neck, and shoulders. Tension headaches typically last anywhere between 30 minutes to multiple hours. The most common causes of tension headaches include stress, anxiety, and depression.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches rival migraines as the most severe type of headaches for adults. They commonly bring an intense burning or piercing pain around or behind one eye. For some people, the pain from a cluster headache is so bad that it can wake them up from sleep. They are called cluster headaches because they commonly come in groups (or clusters) that can last weeks or even months in some cases. Cluster headaches can occur one to three times per day for as long as three hours during an attack period. For some people, cluster headaches can disappear for extended periods of time and then return suddenly. Since cluster headaches cause eye redness, watery eyes, and nasal congestion, they are often associated with seasonal allergies. Although the cause of cluster headaches is unknown, they are more common for smokers and can be triggered by drinking alcohol during an attack period. Men are three times more likely to experience cluster headaches as women.

Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches are secondary headaches, meaning they are a symptom of another underlying condition. In the case of sinus headaches, that condition is inflammation of the sinuses. The pain and pressure from sinus headaches occur in the front area of the head including the cheekbones, forehead, or on the bridge of the nose. Sinus headaches are often accompanied by other sinus symptoms like a runny nose, congestion in the ears, fever, and facial swelling. People with severe seasonal allergies or sinusitis are more likely to experience sinus headaches. Since true sinus headaches result from sinus infections, the vast majority of people who think they are experiencing a sinus headache are actually suffering from a migraine.

The only way to properly treat your chronic headache is to determine what type of headache you are experiencing. Our healthcare providers work with our patients to accurately diagnose the root cause of their pain and find the most appropriate and helpful treatment plan. For more information or to schedule an appointment today, contact Family Practice Center. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for additional tips, news, updates, and more.