There are more than 150 types of headaches with varying symptoms and intensity. Headaches affect about 96% of people in their lifetime. The three most common include migraines which account for 10% of all headaches, tension, and cluster headaches.


Migraines can come on instantly, cause throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, and are usually limited to one side of the head. Some people experience sensitivity to light, sound, or vomiting. Some say they see a burst of light or a blind spot at the onset of a migraine. Migraines are most common in women.

Tension headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and typically cause pain on both sides of the head and sometimes in the back and neck. Some people describe the pain in a band around their head. This type of headache causes steady pain and builds up over time.

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches can be identified by sudden severe pain, generally behind one eye and in the same place each time the headache occurs. Cluster headaches are the most painful and can last around 1-3 hours. Common causes include alcohol, tobacco, heat, and certain foods.

“I always tell my patients to keep a diary of the frequency, symptoms, and the circumstances leading up to their pain,” said Dr. Stephen Giorgianni, Family Medicine Physician at Complete Health. “This key information will help us determine the type of headache and a treatment plan.”


Stress is the number one cause of tension headaches. Other headache triggers can include diet, alcohol, hormone shifts, dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, and lack of sleep. Some ways to combat recurring headaches include staying hydrated, getting plenty of rest, exercising, eating a healthy diet, and not skipping meals.

If you experience an extreme headache with loss of vision or consciousness, vomiting, or a headache that lasts longer than 72 hours, see your primary care doctor immediately.