The 5 most common headaches and how you can reduce them

Headaches, just like our mind, can be quite complex. The cause of headaches can be just as baffling and frustrating as a headache itself. For those of you who suffer from headaches, often I think the saying “Keep your friend close and your enemies closer” really does apply. You can start by understanding what the most common types of headaches are and what triggers them. Then you can beat your next headache.

Tension-type headaches

This is the most common sort of primary headache and you will probably suffer from one at some point in your life. However, like all primary headaches which we will talk about in this article they are not caused by other conditions.

If you were to picture a tension-type headache it would be like a large band going across the whole of your forehead and it can feel like someone is squeezing your head. They tend to get worse as the day goes on and can cause sensitivity to bright lights. But luckily for us, they don’t tend to disturb sleep, and they normally don’t disturb you from going to work – that might not be as lucky though!

This type of headache is normally induced by your lifestyle. For example, if you are considerably anxious or emotionally distressed you could get a tension-type headache. However, there are other factors involved, like having to strain your eyes often or being overstimulated by the world around you. It also can be started by a high intake of coffee, or by simply being hungry. No wonder we get grouchy when we are hungry.

Treating and preventing tension-type headaches

- Reduce your intake of caffeine, especially coffee and black tea

- Take painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen with a large glass of water

- Don’t sleep on too many pillows at night or try to not sleep on your side

- Exercise more

- Give yourself a neck massage and take a warm bath

- Get plenty of sleep

- Don’t read in low light for too long

- Try reduce your stress levels.


It’s key to remember that not all headaches are migraines, but all migraines are headaches. More specifically, they are serve and frequent attacks of headaches that can cause nausea and vomiting. Migraines are actually more common in women than in men and normally start in early life but can often stop in late adulthood.

If we were to picture a migraine it would be at one side of the head and move in a throbbing motion. The two main types of migraines are a common migraine and a classic migraine. A classic migraine is different from a common migraine because it has an “aura”. The “aura” is a warning sign before a migraine attack. This can be a temporary loss of sight or flashing lights appearing. It can also be a numb feeling or a problem with your speech. The aura itself only last a few seconds.

Both types of migraines have the same symptoms apart from the aura. Common symptoms are a tender scalp, diarrhoea, hunger, blurred vision and feeling hot or cold.

Treating and preventing migraines

- Take paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen – it is best if they are dissolvable

- Take anti-sickness medicine

- Get more sleep or take a nap

- Reduce your stress levels - go somewhere quiet and dark

- Reduce foods like chocolate and red wine

- Get migraine tablets prescribed by the doctor.

Cluster headaches

These are possibly one of the worst types of headaches and are quite erratic in nature. They are severe, one-sided headaches that can be present for several days or weeks and then disappear for months on end. The pain from a cluster headache will normally centre around one eye but can spread to other parts of the head around that spot, and the pain can often feel like a burning sensation. This type of headache will cause frustration and will sadly make you unable to sleep until it has passed.

There are other signs like watery red eyes, swelling eyelids, sweaty face and constricted pupils. It is most common to get the headaches for six to twelve weeks out of the year. Unlike migraines, these are more likely to occur in men than in women.

Treating cluster headaches

- Sumatriptan Injection

- Zolmitriptan nasal spray

- 100% oxygen therapy.

If you do suffer from these types of headaches, visit your local doctor for more information.

Trigeminal neuralgia

These types of headaches normally affect people over the age of 50 and cause severe pains in different parts of the face. These types of headaches come from pressure being placed on the trigeminal nerve, which has three branches running throughout the face. The pain it causes is sharp, intense and shooting pains and normally just affects one side of the face. They only last a few seconds but can happen repeatedly and often leave a tenderness in the face afterwards.

Treating trigeminal neuralgia

- Carbamazepine

- Deep brain stimulation

- Decompression surgery

- Ablative surgical treatment.

Primary stabbing headache

A primary stabbing headache is most commonly named the “ice pick headache”. The pain caused from this is short, stabbing, sudden and severe. They often occur just behind the ear and can startle you when they occur. They only last around five or thirty seconds and are often over before you need to treat them. Those who have migraines are most likely to have these types of headaches as well.

If you are worried and are feeling severe pain due to a headache, you should see your doctor. However, most often than not, headaches are nothing to be worried about and can be fixed with rest and painkillers.


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