Types of Headaches Explained

We’ve all experienced headaches at some point. Headaches cause discomfort and pain, affecting our daily activities. Even though millions of Canadians experience this, they are much more complicated than you think. There are more than 200 types of headaches, and each one is classified based on its symptoms, triggers, and treatment methods. There are two main types of headaches - primary and secondary headaches. Understanding the types of headaches and their triggers can help you take charge of your well-being.

What Triggers a Headache?

The throbbing pain you feel during a headache comes from the signals between your blood vessels, nearby nerves, and brain. While doctors are still unsure about the exact cause of headaches in some cases, there are some common triggers you should watch out for:

• Chemical imbalances, muscle tension, nerve irritation, and changes in blood flow

• Fever, colds, and infections

• Dehydration, stress, sleep problems, being overwhelmed by your senses, environmental factors, and certain foods or drinks can also be triggers.

• Sometimes, your family history can come into play, especially regarding migraines.

• Underlying conditions

Common Primary Headaches

Primary headaches are not symptoms of an underlying condition or disease. The pain you associate with it comes from inflammation or problems with the pain-sensitive parts of the head and neck. While the pain can be uncomfortable, primary headaches aren’t dangerous.

Migraine Headache

Migraines are severe, throbbing headaches usually felt on one side of the head. They can cause unpleasant side effects like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. The exact cause of migraines is unknown, but they’re often related to changes in brain chemicals, genetics, and blood flow.

Tension Headache

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. They are described as a dull ache or pressure in the temples and forehead on either one or both sides of the head. The main culprits behind these headaches are scalp, neck, and shoulder muscle tension. It can also be associated with migraine attacks and cause migraine-like symptoms.

Cluster Headache

Cluster headaches are less common than episodic migraines but are extremely painful. They attack in “clusters” that can last days or weeks. The pain around one eye is usually described as a burning sensation. The exact cause is unknown, but it may have something to do with the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that regulates hormones and other functions.

Sinus Headache

These headaches are caused by inflammation or congestion in the sinuses. They often cause pressure and pain around the eyes, forehead, cheeks, and bridge of the nose. Sinus infections, allergies, and even common colds can trigger sinus headaches. Antibiotics are effective treatments for sinus infections. However, antibiotics will not help viral sinus infections (the common cold) and will only temporarily relieve allergy-related sinus congestion.

Chronic Daily Headache

Have you experienced headaches for fifteen days or more in a month for at least three consecutive months? It might be a chronic daily headache. These headaches are typically a combination of other types of headaches, including tension headaches and migraines.

Hormone Headache

These headaches are linked to hormonal changes, often affecting women during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Changes in estrogen levels can also be the root cause of hormone headaches.

4 Common Secondary Headaches

Secondary headaches are symptoms of an underlying medical condition. It’s an excruciating headache that comes out of nowhere. It’s a warning sign you must investigate to determine the root cause. Secondary headaches are a common symptom of more serious conditions like:

• High blood pressure

• Meningitis

• Aneurysm

• Brain tumour

• Neurological conditions

Post-Traumatic Headache

These headaches usually show up about 2–3 days after the injury and can feel dull and achy. Sometimes, it can be accompanied by dizziness, lightheadedness, and trouble concentrating.

Thunderclap Headache

Now, this one is a rare but one of the worst types of headaches. It hits you out of nowhere with sudden, intense pain. It could be a sign of something more serious going on, like a ruptured aneurysm or bleeding in the brain. That’s why seeking immediate medical attention is necessary if you experience this kind of headache.

Hypertension Headache

Did you know that high blood pressure can give you headaches? If left untreated or if you don’t have it under control, it can show up as throbbing or pulsating headaches. It could also indicate issues with your heart and blood vessels. So, if you’re experiencing headaches accompanied by dizziness, changes in vision, or nosebleeds, it’s important to see a doctor and check your blood pressure.

Cervicogenic Headache

These headaches stem from issues in the neck’s joints and muscles. Chiropractic adjustments can enhance mobility and reduce pain signals that travel to the head.

Frequent Headaches? Chiropractic Care Can Help!

While medication can offer temporary relief, many Canadians are still seeking long-term and natural solutions. Headaches are often caused by problems or issues with the alignment or functioning of the spine, especially in the upper neck area. These issues can put pressure on the nerves and result in headaches. Research shows that chiropractic care is safe and effective in addressing some types of headaches and can also help reduce the frequency of migraines.

If you experience frequent headaches or rely on pain medications, contact Chiro-Med for an initial consultation. We’ll run non-invasive tests to determine the root cause of your headache.

However, immediate medical attention is needed if you’re experiencing sudden and severe headaches accompanied by weakness, difficulty speaking, stiff neck, numbness, or fever.

More Information
Questions about your health? Contact us for a free consultation!
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

For questions, guidance, or more information, call us at any time!
We accept all extended health care insurances, motor vehicle accidents and W.S.I.B.