How Location Can Help You Handle Different Types of Headaches
One of the top causes of headaches must be not knowing what’s causing the headache to form in the first place. Is it a cold coming on? Or is it stress? Turns out, knowing the location of your headache can be a good start to figuring out the true causes of your headaches. Plus, with all of the different types of headaches you can have, knowing the location can help give you the necessary tools you need to get them all under control.
- The most common different types of headaches that people get are tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches.
- Different types of headaches are typically caused by a number of factors including sudden changes in environment, lack of sleep, strong odors, loud noise, dehydration, or irregular eating patterns.
- Common locations of the different types of headaches include back of the neck, pain behind one or both eyes, pain in the hairline, forehead, and face.
Different Types of Headaches
Headaches are entirely too common. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly 75 percent of people worldwide have at least one headache each year. Not only that, but headaches are also one of the most common reasons for people to see a neurologist for answers (1).
The most common different types of headaches that people get are tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches (2). Below, each different type of headache is broken down to help give you an idea of common symptoms and factors that could increase your risk of a headache forming:
1. Migraine headaches
Migraine headaches are characterized by recurrent attacks of throbbing and pulsating pain on one side of the head that can ultimately cause nausea and vomiting. They are typically caused by increased sensitivity to light, noise, and odors, stress, overexertion, hormonal changes, lack of sleep, irregular eating patterns, hangovers, low blood sugar, and motion sickness among a number of factors.
These types of headaches can occur in both children and adults and are genetic. Common symptoms include nausea, confusion, blurred vision, changes in mood, loss of appetite, neurological visual disturbances known as auras, and fatigue (2).
2. Tension headaches
Tension headaches, or tension-type headaches, are the most common type of headache that is commonly caused by stress, depression, anxiety, lack of sleep and proper nutrients, jaw clenching, and overexertion. They typically are located in the neck, face, scalp, and jaw and feel like a constant pressure is being applied to the area.
Tension headaches also usually start in adolescence and do not seem to have a genetic connection as opposed to migraine headaches. Common symptoms and factors that play into tension headaches include sensitivities to light and sound, sore scalps, and strained muscles (2).
3. Cluster headaches
This form of headache is considered a severe form of headache as they are characterized by extremely painful headaches that occur in “clusters” at the same time of day and night for several weeks; each headache can last up to three hours (2). Occurring mainly in adulthood, the locations of cluster headaches include pain in one side of the head or behind or around one of the eyes.
Like migraines, those with cluster headaches can feel nausea and have auras. Other symptoms include restlessness, increased agitation, changes in heart rate, puffiness around one or both eyes, runny or stuffy nose, a flushed or warm face, changes in blood pressure, and a red, teary eye on the side of the face affected by the cluster headaches (3).
Other than the headaches listed above, some other forms of headaches include sinus headaches, ear-infection related aches behind the ear, cervicogenic headaches, and occipital neuralgia (1). The most common of these, sinus headaches, are usually accompanied by cold-like symptoms and other symptoms like pressure in the face, eyes, and forehead, fatigue, and stuffy nose (3).
What Their Locations are Telling You
Despite headaches being so common, they don’t always occur in the same location. Sometimes, you can get different types of headaches located in the temples, behind the eyes, or in the back of your head depending on what the root cause could be. While narrowing down the location alone by yourself isn’t a foolproof way to diagnose the cause, it can help your doctor discover what’s going on along with your other symptoms to help give you the right care and treatment.
The most common locations of different types of headaches and their common causes include:
- Back of the neck (migraines and tension headaches)
- Forehead (migraines and tension headaches)
- Cheeks (migraines and tension headaches)
- On one side of the head (migraines and cluster headaches)
- Behind both eyes (migraines and tension headaches)
- Along the hairline (migraines and tension headaches)
- Behind one eye (migraines and cluster headaches)
- All over the head (tension headaches) (3)
Lots of different factors can cause headaches. Some factors that haven’t yet been mentioned include:
- Straining of the eyes (reading in the dark, too much exposure to computer or phone screen)
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Head injury
- Some medications including birth control
- Vision-related issues or eye infections
- Dental issues causing an ache behind the ear
- Excess exercising (5)
Remedies for Different Types of Headaches
If you do not have ready access to medication for your headache and need something to soothe the ache, there are some remedies you can try to help subdue the symptoms.
- Napping or resting with your eyes closed in a quiet, darkened room with no light or sound (including from your phone or television)
- Placing a cool cloth or ice pack on the forehead
- Drinking lots of fluids (such as water or herbal/ginger tea) especially if the headache is accompanied by vomiting
- Taking magnesium supplements, especially if you have a deficiency
In the long term, avoiding alcohol, avoiding foods high in histamine, cutting down on caffeine, getting enough sleep, easing your stress over time with stress management activities, and adopting an exercise routine are all great solutions to help you gain more control over your headaches and their causes (4).
Written by Selena Ponton