Headaches are one of the commonest conditions which people will have. Everyone in their lifetime will experience some form of headache at one point or the other. Fortunately, most headaches will get better without any treatment or with simple pain-killers such as paracetamol or aspirin. However, some people may become worried if their headaches are persistent or severe.

What are the types of headaches?

Tension headache

This is the most common type of headache. It is usually felt like a tight squeeze around the head. This type of headache is made worse by physical activity and can be triggered by physical or emotional stress. It also tends to get worse as the day progresses.

Tension headaches usually do not cause any other symptoms and they usually improve with rest, sleep, or simple pain-killers.


Migraine headaches usually affect one side of the head and can feel like a pounding sensation. People with migraines can also experience what is called an “aura” which is a sensation they get before the start of the headache. Examples of such sensations could be visual distortions, seeing bright lights.

Migraines can often have triggers which if avoided, can reduce the frequency of experiencing them.

Some other symptoms could also occur with migraine attacks. For example, having nausea or inability to look at bright light.

Migraines can last from a few hours to a few days on some occasions and can be treated with pain medication as well.

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches are similar to migraines in that they are usually one-sided as well but can be quite severe. There is often also pain and watering of the eye on the affected part of the head. It also causes a runny and stuffy nose. 

Sexual headaches

This is a kind of headache that is often caused by sexual activity. It usually starts at the beginning of intercourse and could persist afterward.

If you experience severe headaches for the first time during sex, please seek medical advice.

Other headache types

There are many other causes of headaches but only a few are a cause for concern. Often headaches also occur as a result of other conditions, such as fever, ear infection, dehydration, or breathing in polluted air.

Some medications could also cause headaches as side effects and the same is true for alcohol as well.

When should I be worried about my headache?

Most headaches will get better on their own. However, there are some more serious causes of headaches that will require further tests and treatment.

Such serious causes of headaches include:

  • Bleeding into the head
  • Meningitis
  • Brain tumour

If you experience the following symptoms, please speak to your doctor who will be able to explore them further.

  • Severe headaches after head trauma.
  • Headaches with confusion, changed speech, or difficulty finding your balance when standing or walking.
  • Headaches with blurred vision, double vision, or loss of vision.
  • Headaches with painful and red eyes.
  • Severe headache (worst headache you have ever had) starting suddenly
  • Severe headaches with fever, rash, and vomiting

How can I treat mild headaches?

Most headaches will improve with a period of rest, simple pain-killers such as paracetamol, Aspirin, or Ibuprofen.

Staying well hydrated by drinking water and also avoiding alcohol would also help.

Avoid possible triggers for your headaches.

If your headaches continue to get worse or do not improve after a few days in spite of the above measures, speak to your doctor.