45 million people suffer from some kind of headache every year in America. Anyone who’s had a headache knows how annoying, painful, and disruptive. They can stop you from living a normal life, make everyday tasks a burden, and generally put you in a really bad mood.

Many people get headaches because of certain lifestyle choices they make, which is unfortunate. Making simple lifestyle changes can help you avoid the pain and annoyance of headaches.

We’re going to go over 7 of the most common types of headaches that people suffer from. Not only that, but we’re going to give you tips on how to change your lifestyle in order to reduce your chances of getting them.

1. Migraines

Migraines are headaches characterized by intense throbbing usually centralized on one side of the head. Those suffering from migraines can also experience:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Migraines can be experienced once in a while or they can become chronic and recurring. 38 million people suffer from migraines with an estimated 3 million people suffering from chronic migraines having more than 15 headache days per month.

While it’s not understood exactly what causes migraines, they can be triggered by a number of things:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Dehydration/malnutrition
  • Medication side effects
  • Cervical spine problems
  • Hormone changes
  • Nutritional choices

If you’re prone to migraines, make sure to avoid these triggers. Get a good night’s sleep, try stress reduction techniques, and make sure you’re eating hydrating and healthy foods.

There’s also evidence to suggest that Botox treatment and/or CBD oil may help with migraine relief. Obviously, structural corrective chiropractic is very efficacious at resolving migraine headaches as well. It is important to consider the consequences and or possible side effects of any and all treatments. Your doctor should give you a proper assessment of the risks associated with any treatment as well as any long term consequences.

2. Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are probably the most common form of headache. They’re usually a duller pain felt in the entire head and down into the shoulders and back.

They can be triggered by:

  • Dehydration
  • Bad posture
  • Poor sleep
  • Eye strain
  • Stress
  • Structural shifts

Massage therapy can relieve the pain caused by tension headaches.

You should also be sure to be sitting with proper posture. Many people who have sedentary jobs end up in uncomfortable chairs slouching over computers for hours on end. We always make sure that everyone is using the best possible posture during their working hours.

Be sure to get an ergonomic chair and sit/stand desk to promote good posture and prevent tension headaches. You should also make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. We recommend half of your body weight in ounces as a starting point (for adults).

3. Exertional Headaches

Exertional headaches are triggered by strenuous activity. This can include running, exercise, sex, and even coughing/sneezing.

They’re common in those who are prone to migraines, but they can happen in anyone. They’re similar to migraines in terms of pain: usually, they’re characterized by shorter bursts throbbing, but they can last days.

These headaches are often present with dehydration and or excessive loss of electrolytes. Staying hydrated and eating during long duration/ strenuous exercise is always recommended.

4. Sinus Headaches

When your sinuses become swollen or inflamed due to infection or allergies, this can cause a headache deemed a sinus headache. The pain of sinus headaches is felt behind the eyes, bridge of the nose and orbits, under the eyes, behind the forehead, and around the cheeks/jaw.

You’ll also probably have a stuffy nose, excess mucus, and a potential fever. Sinus headaches can often be avoided by removing allergens and washing your hands to avoid sickness.

You can relieve symptoms by clearing your sinuses with water vapor (hot showers, Netti pots, eucalyptus, lavender etc).

5. “Kickback” Headaches

In the desperation to get rid of a headache or a migraine, many people try taking a lot of pain medications. The problem with this solution is that you can actually get another rebound, or a “kickback”, headache from these medications.

You’re better off following other types of preventative measures like staying hydrated, having a massage, relieving muscle tension, fixing your posture, and seeing a chiropractor before you take OTC pain meds. It is important to consult your medical doctor about appropriate dosing of any pain medication. And, you should always consult your doctor if you are experiencing headaches following use of any medication.

6. Cluster Headaches

If you’re frequently having a headache behind the eye that feels sharp and stabbing, this could be what’s called cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are short-lived but extremely painful recurring headaches that can be felt multiple times per day for days or weeks at a time.

Those experiencing these headaches also can have:

  • Swollen eyelids
  • Watery eyes
  • Light/sound sensitivity
  • Stuffy nose
  • Agitation

There’s usually little to no warning when these headaches will occur. People experience them in short bursts known as “attacks.” An attack can last 30 minutes to 2-3 hours with people having 6-8 attacks every day.

It’s unclear what causes these types of headaches, but we do know that a nerve called the trigeminal nerve is often the cause of the intense eye pain that often comes with cluster headaches.

Cluster headaches are more common in men than women, and they’re also more common in those who smoke cigarettes.

Avoiding cigarettes can potentially decrease your risk of developing cluster headaches and hopefully decrease their frequency. This is a great example of a lifestyle choice that can vastly change your quality of life. These headaches are often so painful that it is likely that you will be given some form of medication from your primary care provider or neurologist.

7. Thunderclap Headaches

Of all the different types of headaches, ones deemed thunderclap headaches are probably the most serious and concerning in terms of your overall health.

Thunderclap headaches are characterized by sudden and intense pain that reaches peak pain levels in just under a minute. Many people describe this as the worst headache of their life or as a pain they’ve never experienced before.

These headaches are usually the result of bleeding in the brain, a stroke, an aneurysm, brain infection, or leaking spinal fluid. These are all life-threatening conditions; if you feel this sudden and intense pain of a thunderclap headache, you need to see a doctor and get to the hospital as soon as possible. Waiting or delaying medical care in this scenario can be fatal.

7 Types of Headaches and What to Do About Them: Wrapping Up

Headaches can range from a dull annoyance to a chronic condition that affects your entire life. Whatever the case for you, there are steps you can take to avoid developing headaches.

Whether you have a headache after a hard gym session or are suffering from chronic migraines, hopefully, some of the tips we went over can help relieve some of your pain for all types of headaches you have.

We can help you with many of these secondary conditions (headaches) and improve your quality of life if we find that you have a structural change in your spine. Make an appointment with the doctor for a complimentary consultation. You can also contact us with any questions that you may have.