All fields are required.

Close Appointment form
Types of Headaches: Causes and Symptoms

Headaches are among the most common ailments, but there are more types of headaches than you might think. Understanding how the causes and symptoms of headaches can differ can help you prevent uncomfortable head pain. 

The main types of headaches include:

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are very common, impacting most people at some point in life. This type of headache causes a dull, aching, constant pain on either side of the head. With a tension headache, some people also experience:

  • The sensation of pressure behind the eyes
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Tenderness in the head, face, neck, and shoulders

Possible causes of tension headaches include:

  • Poor quality sleep
  • Dehydration
  • Poor posture
  • Skipping meals
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Exposure to loud noises

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches tend to cause severe burning, piercing pain behind or around one eye or one side of the face. They happen in a series, with each headache lasting between 15 minutes to three hours. Other symptoms of cluster headaches include:

  • Redness, swelling, flushing, and sweating on the affected part of the face
  • Eye tearing on the affected side
  • Nasal congestion on the affected side

The exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown. However, this type of headache is three times more common in men and occurs more often in the spring and fall. 


Migraine is a common form of headache that tends to cause severe, throbbing pain on one side of the head. Other migraine symptoms include:

  • Light, sound, and smell sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 

About 25% of individuals who have migraines experience aura before the headache. Migraine aura involves visual and sensory disturbances, such as:

  • Shimmering or flickering lights
  • “Stars” in vision
  • Blind spots
  • Zigzag lines
  • Tingling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Struggling to sleep
  • Numbness
  • Partial vision loss

The cause of migraine isn’t fully understood, although there’s likely a genetic component. Underlying conditions may also increase the likelihood of developing migraine, including epilepsy and depression. Possible migraine triggers include:

  • Dehydration
  • Skipping meals
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Certain foods
  • Certain medications
  • Hormonal shifts
  • Bright lights or loud sounds

If you’re struggling with recurrent headaches, schedule an appointment at The Center for Natural & Integrative Medicine for a personalized treatment plan. 

  • Share This