Types of headache – You probably know all about tension headaches, cluster headaches, and eyestrain headaches, and more than you’d like to about sinus headaches, caffeine-withdrawal headaches, and migraine headaches. And you’ve probably lived through your fair share of hangover headaches, too.
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Around 45 million Americans regularly suffer from headaches, and while most are the common afflictions above, a much smaller group of people deal with rare, more unusual types.
“There are hundreds of types of headaches,” says Mark W. Green, M.D., director of headache and pain medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, as categorized by the International Headache Classification.
To tell them apart, doctors typically need patients to provide a detailed history of what their symptoms feel like, as well as when and how often they occur.
“Each type of headache has a distinct history,” Dr. Green says, and that history determines what types of tests will be used to confirm a diagnosis.
“The more a person can think about the features of their headache, the more effective an evaluation is going to be,” he says.
Here are some of those lesser-known types you might want to be aware of.
1. Exertion Headaches
These headaches occur in the minutes following some kind of physical exertion, including exercise, sex, sneezing, laughing, or even pooping.
“When you bear down, as you do during many of these activities, the spinal fluid pressure in the head increases briefly,” Dr. Green explains.
That pressure leads to pain, which, luckily, is usually no cause for concern and should pass within a few minutes (or maybe up to an hour if it’s just not your day).
In rare cases, there could be a blood vessel problem causing this pain, so if a headache comes on extraordinarily strong soon after exerting yourself, go see a doctor, Dr. Green says.