Their types, causes, clinical presentation, diagnosis, and treatments

Some insights into the types of a headache: Migraine, Vertigo, and Sinusitis

What is a headache? What are the types of a headache?

Headache is a sensation of pain in and around the head region. A headache may be a symptom of many underlying causes. Determination of the type of a headache depends on the region from it originates. There are several ways headaches may be presented, some common ones being:

One-sided headache

  • Migraine
  • Vestibular Migraine- A type of migraine that is associated with vertigo (spinning sensation of the head)
  • Cluster headache- A recurring, sudden headache with severe pain on one side of the head, watery eyes and nose block. It is more common in men than in women.

Front of the head

  • Sinus headache
  • Eye strain
  • Tension headache
  • Morning headache- Chronic tension headache can trigger headache in early morning hours.

Back of the head

  • Cervicogenic headache- It is also known as a secondary headache, as the location of pain differs from the location of its It is mostly associated with the cervical spine.
  • Tension headache
  • Temples (Side of the head)
  • Ice-pricking headache
What is Headache

What is Headache

Other types of headache include:

  • Hypertension headache- A relatively rare type of headache. It is associated with high blood pressure (over 200/100 mmHg), which then requires immediate attention.
  • Headache in pregnancy – This usually occurs during the first trimester and third trimester, due to hormonal change, poor posture or tension.

What are the other symptoms associated with headache?

Symptoms may differ depending on the type of headache and its origin. Some commonly reported nature of headache and its symptoms are:


  • Pain increases on moving or walking
  • Sleepless nights during the migraine attack
  • Throbbing single-sided pain in head
  • Vomiting sensation
  • Vertigo
  • Dizziness
  • Tinnitus(peculiar sound in the ear)
  • Imbalance
  • Neck pain


  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Pain in almost every part of the face
  • Pain worsens on bending forward
  • Thick mucus secretion from the nose
Types of Headache

Types of Headache

What are the causes of a headache?

Some of the common underlying causes of headache are:

Migraine– The exact cause of migraine is uncertain, however, family history i.e genetics and imbalance in brain chemicals could be the cause of migraine. Factors that trigger migraine include

  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress and insufficient sleep
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Bright and direct sun exposure to the head

Vertigo– The causes of vertigo can be abnormalities of ear or the brain.

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, a mechanical problem of ear
  • Head injury
  • Inflammation of the ear
  • Migraine
  • Brain tumor

Sinusitis– It occurs when the sinuses, i.e. cavities around the nasal passages become infected and inflamed.

What are the complications of headache?

Under treatment or over treatment of headache may lead to complications, some of which may be:


  • Acidity due to prolonged use of pain killers
  • Medication dependency
  • May lead to problems while driving
  • High risk of injury due to imbalance and fall
  • Poor quality of life; migraine may interfere with normal living activities


  • Infection can spread to neighboringorgans
  • Meningitis
  • Sense of smell is partially or completely lost
  • Vision problems

How is a headache diagnosed?

Since headache may be an underlying cause of many diseases, please consult a doctor if the pain does not subside with routine medications or symptoms do not improve even after taking medications. Depending on the location of the affected area, the physician can diagnose the condition by:

  • Family history check
  • Physical examination
  • Tests (depending on the requirement)
    • – Blood
    • – Imaging tests
    • – X Ray
    • – Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • – Computerizedtomography (CT) scan

Patient may be referred to a specialist like ENT, neurologist etc for an opinion if required.

How is a headache treated?

Most of the treatment for headache would include symptomatic relieving treatment, which include:

  • Migraine
    • – Medications for prevention of attacks or relieving symptoms
  • Vertigo
    • – Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo is treated by head movements such as Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers, Liberatory Maneuver & Epley maneuver.
    • – Medication to reduce symptoms of vertigo
  • Sinusitis
    • – Medications – nasal spray, corticosteroids, painkillers, decongestants & antihistamines.
    • – Surgery – May be required if symptoms are not controlled by medications.

Episodes of headache can be controlled by lifestyle modifications:

  • Meditation & yoga
  • Getting consistent daily sleep for at least 6 to 8 hours
  • Maintaining a diary of headache triggers
  • De-stressing
  • Assessment of the risk of falling due to imbalance
  • Using a walking support in case of vertigo
Treatment of headache

How is Headache treated

How can headache be prevented?

Some of the measures that can be adopted for preventing benign types of headaches include:

  • Avoiding too much of smoking and alcoholic drink
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Taking a nutritious diet
  • Using preventive medications if advised by a physician
  • Engaging in regular exercise

To know more about headache and its treatment, you can request a call back and our headache specialist will call you and answer all your queries.

  • Mayo Clinic. Migraine. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20360207. Assessed on 13 March 2018.
  • Mayo Clinic. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vertigo/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20370060. Assessed on 13 March 2018.
  • Mayo Clinic. Acute Sinusitis. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acute-sinusitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351671. Assessed on 13 March 2018.
  • Black Doctor. Headache locations. What do they mean? Available at: https://blackdoctor.org/270535/headache-location-meaning/. Assessed on 13 March 2018.
  • Medline Plus. Migraine. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/migraine.html. Assessed on 13 March 2018.
  • Vertigo-associated disorders. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001432.htm. Assessed on 13 March 2018.
“The content of this publication has been developed by a third party content provider who is clinicians and/or medical writers and/or experts. The information contained herein is for educational purpose only and we request you to please consult a Registered Medical Practitioner or Doctor before deciding the appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan.”


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