Different Types of Headaches – Primary and Secondary

Headaches are not considered as a big deal since every one of us suffer from it at least once in their lives. One more reason why it is not discussed as an important health issue is because there are many causes associated with headache.

Today, headache is one of the most common condition for which people use over the counter drugs like paracetamol, aspirin, etc. These drugs are pretty safe, but there are some risks associated with them too. All in all, it is recommended that any individual who suffers from headaches frequently should go through proper tests, and figure out the exact reason behind those headaches.

Understanding whether a headache is serious or not

Headaches are two types of headaches – primary and secondary. Primary headaches are headaches due to a specific condition. On the other hand, secondary headaches are headaches caused by different underlying conditions, for instance – a sinus headache.

Primary Headache

Primary headaches are common but they can lead to serious disabilities. In most cases, primary headaches fall into 3 categories – tension-type headache (TTH), migraine, and cluster headache.

  1. Tension-Type Headache (TTH)

This is one of the most common type of primary headache. It is pretty common in general population and second most common disorder in the world.

  1. Migraine

Migraine is a condition in which a person suffers from recurrent headaches. Severe throbbing pain, pulsing sensation, and headache on one side of the brain is usually experienced. In some cases, it is accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

  1. Cluster Headache

It is defined as severe pain on one side of the head, often affecting eye and forehead. The pain it very intense and it starts without any warning. The pain usually reduces and subsides after an hour or two.

Secondary Headache

Secondary headaches are headaches caused by other conditions. There are many reasons for which you might be suffering from secondary headaches. Some of them are:

Withdrawal from caffeine

Headaches are commonly experienced because of caffeine withdrawal. Headache usually begins after 12 to 24 hours after withdrawing caffeine.


The connection between hypertension and headache is always debated, but many studies have shown that headaches are common with those who have hypertension.


Hangover are headaches which come after the day of consuming alcohol. They are mostly due to toxic effects of alcohol and its byproducts.

Brain Tumor

Headache is a common symptom of brain tumors. Headaches due to tumors are worse in mornings, and much more severe than a migraine headache.

Head Trauma

Headaches are experienced immediately after head injuries. Mostly, this type of headache will last for a few hours or days, but in some cases they may even last for months and years. These types of long-term headaches are known as post-traumatic headaches.

Apart from the ones mentioned above, there are several other types of secondary headaches. To understand what you are suffering from, it is necessary to go through proper diagnostics. Headaches may seem common and harmless, but keep in mind, sometimes they can be fatal too.