17 Different Types of Headaches and What they Mean

There are about 150 documented different types of headaches. We explain them and its meaning so you’d know what to do next time you feel it.

The different types of headaches could be classified based on the location of the pain in the head, what triggers the headache, and the type of symptoms it is presenting.

Headaches are a common occurrence all around.

Most of the times, headaches are a continuous pain in any region of the head.

Scientists recently discovered the pain we feel in the head when we experience headaches, are due to the pain signals the nerves and tissues surrounding the brain are sending to it.

If you are ready, let’s explore 17 Different Types of Headaches and what they mean.

types of headaches and what they mean

The mistake most people make, is they don’t know that there are different headaches aside from migraines.

Some people can’t actually explore which kind of headache they are having and they start popping pills at the slightest sign of pain in their head.

There are about 150 documented types of headaches.

So, we aim to explain the different headaches, that are most common and what they mean so that next time you experience one of those, you know the best course of treatment.

1. Drug rebound headaches

Drug rebound headache is number one on our list of different types of headaches.

This can range from substance abuse to the normal over the counter drug prescriptions.

Someone consuming any type of drug can experience a sought of kick-back in the form of a headache.

If we take note of the drugs we consume on a regular basis, some would have been specified headaches as a side effects.

Common examples of drugs that cause rebound headaches are aspirin, codeine, ibuprofen, caffeine-containing drugs (or other food substances like coffee, soda and so on) some ulcer treatment drugs and so on.

Also, aside from being caused by being a side effect of a drug, rebound headaches can also be caused by the over-use of a drug or wrong-use (not using as prescribed by the physician).

These headaches are characterized by a persistent headache throughout the day, reoccur every morning when we wake up, and their presentation often mimics other forms of headaches.

When next you are experiencing a form of a headache, before reaching for the drug cabinet to take more drugs, if you are currently on a particular drug, it’s probably best to read the pamphlet of the drug you are currently taking to make sure one of the side effects of that drug is not a headache.

2. Magnesium deficiency headaches

Magnesium deficiency headaches

Magnesium is an important mineral for the body. It promotes a deep sleep, it regulates the blood pressure level, it is essential for the health and strength of the body bones and body muscles and the list of the importance of magnesium for the body goes on.

When the body is lacking this vital mineral, one of the symptoms that can be presented is a headache.

This headache is often an intense form of a migraine headache accompanied by a lot of pain. This headache can also result in nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.

The best course of treatment for this type of headache is to try to replenish magnesium in the body.

This can be done by eating foods that are packed with magnesium.

Examples of such foods are legumes, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.

Read: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Health Benefits of Vegetables.

3. Sinus Headaches

The pain experienced with this type of headache is usually related to the nasal area.

It is a rare type of headache that is not commonly seen in people.

The pain intensity increases as the day go by.

The pain is normally accompanied by a runny nose and its source is usually from a form of infection like a sinus infection.

The best course of treatment for this type of headache is through the use of antibiotics.

When the infection causing the headache is gone, the headache also goes away.

4. Cluster Headaches

Cluster headache makes it on our list of different types of headaches, they are of high intensity and the pain is felt around or behind just one eye.

It is not a type of a headache that is very common but when they do occur, victims might not be able to sit or stand still due to the pain they are experiencing.

This headache often happens in groups and it occurs for a short period of time (about 15min) like 2-4 times in a day which can last for weeks or months.

The eye that is being affected by this headache is often red and feels heavy. The corresponding nostril is blocked or in some cases runny.

5. Migraines

Migraine headache - different types of headaches

This is a very common type of headache and women tend to have this type of headache than men.

This headache can be felt at the front of the head or at one side of the head. The pain is often one-sided and it has the tendency to disrupt daily activities.

It might also be accompanied by loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, cold hands, light and sound sensitivity. Sources or triggers might be hunger, lights, excessive smoking, weather, and stress.

Sometimes, hereditary factors come into play in determining whether one gets a migraine or not.

6. Tension headaches

It is mostly caused by the tense contraction of neck and scalp muscles. The pain that usually accompanies this type of headache is a squeezing type that is felt in the forehead.

This type of headache is caused when there is a form of emotional stress or depression. It can also result from sleeping in a position where pressure is being applied on the neck.

The best course of treatment for this type of headache is keeping stress levels to the barest minimum and using different types of relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation to keep calm throughout the day.

7. Dehydration headaches

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The human brain’s makeup is eighty percent water. Among what the brain needs to function properly is water.

When the body is dehydrated, that is, not enough fluid and electrolytes in the body, the brain for a short period of time shrinks.

This movement by the brain causes surrounding tissues and nerves to also move, which results in pain that is felt as a headache.

This type of headache is usually felt at the front or back of the head.

What to do to instantly relieve this headache is to drink plenty of water and also make sure the body stays hydrated by replacing lost electrolytes.

Also, reduction of physical activities while experiencing this headache helps to prevent the loss of body fluids and electrolytes through sweating.

Simply doing this can reduce the intensity of the headache.

8. Hormonal headaches

This type of headache is peculiar to women. It is caused by cycles that cause the hormone levels of women to fluctuate.

It is similar to migraines in its pain index and location.

Hormonal headaches in women can be triggered by the menstrual cycle, menopausal cycle, pregnancy or contraceptives.

These headaches are usually gone after the completion of the cycles.

Over the counter drugs can be used to relieve the pain from this headache.

According to Healthline, drinking a lot of water on a regular basis to stay hydrated also helps in the treatment of this type of headache.

9. Fever headaches

Fever headaches

Next on the different types of headache is fever headaches.

These are headaches that are experienced while running a fever at the same time.

It results from the swelling of the blood vessels of the head.

This headache most of the time is a symptom of an underlying illness in the body. These headaches might be symptoms of viral infections, typhoid fever or bacterial meningitis.

In order to cure this type of headache, the underlying illness must first be treated.

Otherwise, this headache keeps recurring as long as the cause is not taken care of. Using drugs like Ibuprofen can greatly relieve the pain and subdue the fever temporarily.

Read: Little Things You Think You know about Coronavirus but Might Know

10. Eye-strain headaches

Eye-strain headachesAlthough this is a very rare form of headache, it’s not a common one on the list of different types of headache, the number of occurrences continues to grow with time.

We are in the digital age and as a result of this, we spend a lot of time staring at our digital screens.

This prolonged time we speed staring at our cell phone and computer screen results in the continuous straining of our eyes which in turn leads to headaches.

Read: Negative Effects of Mobile Phones on Human Health and How to Deal with It

Another form of eye strain is, when an eye condition is not corrected.

The individual with such condition might experience this headache after looking at objects for a long time.

The pain associated with this form of headache is felt in the frontal part of the head.

To prevent this form of headache, it is wise to reduce screen time and find the right type of correction for the form of eye condition if any.

11. High blood pressure headaches

When the blood pressure of someone is very high, one of the symptoms it presents is severe headaches.

High blood pressure doesn’t usually present symptoms but when it becomes very high or becomes malignant which is hypertensive, then this headache surfaces.

In most cases, it is recommended to see a physician right away so that the blood pressure level is checked and appropriate treatment is administered for the high blood pressure level.

12. Allergy headaches

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These headaches are common to allergic reactions to seasonal changes. It is rarely caused by food allergies according to headaches.org.

The pain associated with this headache occurs all across the head. Because of the close relationship of this headache with sinus infections, it is often similar to sinus headaches.

Allergy headaches are also associated with watery eyes and nasal congestion as in the case of sinus headaches.

This type of headache is usually gone when the allergic reaction is gone and there is no real way to prevent it.

13. Arthritis headaches

Arthritis is a condition whereby the body considers some of its own tissues as being foreign and starts attacking them. This leads to the inflammation of the blood vessels of these regions. When this arthritis occurs in the neck region, it might result in a form of headache.

This headache is felt at the back of the head and the back of the neck. The pain felt from this headache increases with movement.

It can be treated with the use of muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs.

14. Tumor headaches

This is a headache that is a symptom of brain tumors. It is very rare to come across this type of headache but it is very severe in nature.

It is progressive in the intensity of the pain associated with it and it is accompanied by vomiting, vision impairment, personality changes and increased pain in the morning, during a sneeze or a cough.

The tumor has to be treated with surgery or other radio-logical methods which are used in the treatment of tumors.

15. Withdrawal headaches

Withdrawal headaches is another on the different types of headaches, it happens as a result of breaking an addiction.

This happens when the brain is rewiring itself to adapt to new neural pathways. Not all addiction withdrawal leads to headaches.

This is dependent on the type of addiction and the severity of the addiction.

Addictions can range from drug dependence and alcohol addiction to mobile phone usage, excessive TV time, junk foods and so on.

Some people experience mild headaches when they stop doing the addictive behavior. Though this headache is short in its cycle, it can last for days in some cases.

If a headache occurs as a result of an addiction withdrawal, there are not many courses of treatment for this but to wait it out and let the withdrawal symptom pass.

16. Hangover headaches

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This headache is caused primarily by alcohol. Alcohol causes the irritation of the blood vessels and the tissues around the brain. This headache is usually experienced in the morning after taking too much alcohol.

It mirrors a migraine in its pain properties. Drinking a lot of water can be used to treat this type of headache and also the consumption of fructose-rich liquids like honey can help. This type of headache can only be prevented by cutting back on the amount of alcohol that is being consumed.

So, if this type of headache is persisting for you, its time to think about cutting back on those late night stupors.

17. Intercourse headaches

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This type of headache occurs at the top of the head while having sexual intercourse. It is progressive in its pain intensity as the sexual activity goes on.

This is most common if the individual has a history of a migraine. It is advised by medical practitioners to take drugs for headache an hour before starting intercourse.

This reduces the pain and will prevent the headache from hindering your sex life. This headache is usually gone after orgasm and the completion of the intercourse.

You have to read: Drugs Side Effect: What You Don’t Know about Postinor & Viagra


Now that you know what the different types of headaches are, what they mean and the possible course of treatment, the next time you experience one of these headaches, a better decision can be made.

We often self-medicate which later have adverse effects on our overall long-term health. At the slightest hint of a headache, most people reach for the counter without the inkling that all headaches are not created equal.

It is safe to say that the course of treatment of these headaches differs from one to the other. Well, don’t say you weren’t told, cause now you know.

Seeing a physician

All the treatments discussed in this article are not to be taken as the be all solution to headache problems.

The best course of treatment for the different types of headaches is contacting a doctor and having them conduct an examination and recommending the best course of treatment for that particular headache.

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