Headache fact sheet
Amreen Rahman

Finding out what your headache is trying to tell you


Headaches are one of the top-most common maladies, one that leaves you grasping your head, refusing to leave you be despite your efforts. While it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what kind of headache you're having based on where the pain is located, it is possible to shortlist the probable causes that has may have to the ache. Usually, there are several symptoms and disorders that come under the umbrella of headaches. In other words, to accurately diagnose your headache you need to know the type, the location and the cause of pain as well as the age of the patient. Today we've dissected the meaning of headaches that are located in the different areas of your head.

Types of headaches

Cluster headaches are ones where pain is limited to one side, with the headache recurring over the course of a few weeks. The exact cause is unknown but it's usually the result of abnormalities in the hypothalamus. Dissimilar to migraines and tension headaches, they aren't triggered by food, hormonal changes or stress. Usually once a cluster headache begins, it can be worsened with the consumption of alcohol. Seek emergency care if you have headaches with fever, nausea, vomiting, a sudden severe pain unlike any other or even a headache that gets worse over the days.

Ice-pick headaches are characterised by a sharp, stabbing pain that is momentary, disappearing within 30 seconds or so. Despite how momentary these headaches are, they are just as alarming if not treated right. Doctors still haven't figured out an exact cause behind these aches, but did find that 2% of the population suffer from it, with the onset age being 47 years.

Cervicogenic headaches are essentially secondary headaches that are caused by another illness or physical ailment the patient is suffering from. It is also known as one of the most unusual kinds of headaches since the pain really isn't in the head, but is perceived that way! While there are many reasons behind this, it is most commonly because of a neck disorder or lesion.

Migraine is an extremely intense, painful headache that is preceded or accompanied by warning signs. These signs include flashes of light, tingling arms and legs, vomiting, blind spots and increased sensitivity to light and sound. The pain can last for hours or even continue for days.

Tension headaches are milder than migraines, caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck. It can be triggered by anything from food, different kinds of activities or may even be the result of spending too much time staring at computer screens or driving.

What does the location of your headache mean?

Temples (side of your head)

Headaches that are focused on the temples or around the side of the head are usually tension headaches, ice-pick headaches or cervicogenic headaches.

Front of your head

Headaches in the front of the head can be a result of tension, eye strain, dehydration or even a serious migraine.

Behind your head

Again, headaches at the back of ones head are also the result of dehydration, cervicogenics and tension.

Limited to one side of your head

If you're feeling an ache on one side, then you're suffering from a migraine or a cluster headache.

Centre/top of your head

An ache that is focused on the center or on top of your forehead is usually the result of either tension, ice-pick, cough, exertion or even coital action.

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