Types of Headaches

By the time most patients come to their doctor with complaints of headache, they have likely been suffering for years. Chronic Migraine is a type of headache, but there are many different kinds of headaches—and there are different treatment options, depending on the type. If you think you are experiencing Chronic Migraine, it's important to recognise it early, with a diagnosis from your doctor.
Review the headache types below. Once you and your doctor define the headaches you are experiencing, you can explore management options together with more confidence.
Click on the links below to get definitions of each type of headache:
Migraine is a headache with pain that can last from 4 hours to 3 days.
  • Pain is usually moderately to severely intense, pulsating, and often occurring on 1 side of the head
  • Telltale signs of migraine may be nausea and/or vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound
  • Changes in vision or hearing, called aura, may come just before or just as the migraine begins
Migraine can be defined by how often headaches occur.
  • One type of migraine occurs with fewer than 15 headache days per month, some of them being migraine. This is called episodic migraine
  • The second type is when headaches occur 15 or more days per month and at least 8 of these days are with migraine. This is called Chronic Migraine
This is the most common type of primary* headache, affecting anywhere between 30% and 78% of the general population. It may be possible for those with migraine to be misdiagnosed as having tension-type headaches and vice versa. *Primary headaches are not associated with a specific disease
This is defined as an attack of severe pain on 1 side of the head, lasting 15 minutes to 3 hours and occurring from once every other day to 8 times a day. A cluster headache may be associated with one or more of the following: conjunctival injection, lacrimation, nasal congestion, rhinorrhoea, forehead and facial sweating, miosis, ptosis, eyelid oedema. Most people are restless or agitated during an attack.
Headaches in this category include stabbing headache, coughing-related headache, headache brought on by physical exertion, thunderclap headache and other headaches that cannot be described as migraine, tension or cluster.

There are other types of primary headache. This is not a complete list. If you have any concerns, discuss with your doctor.

I have migraines.
What do I need to know?
If you suspect you suffer from Chronic Migraine or if you've already been diagnosed, know that you are not alone. To confirm a diagnosis, you should ask your GP for a referral to a Neurologist.

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Did you know?
In a study of 520 Chronic Migraine patients, 80% were not correctly diagnosed.
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