Headaches | Overview


What are the types of headache?

The most common types of headache are migraines and tension headaches. Other types of headaches include cluster and rebound headaches.

What are tension headaches?

Most people describe a tension headache as a constant, dull, achy feeling on both sides of the head, or like a band around the head. Some people who have tension headaches also have a tight feeling in their jaw or neck muscles. Tension headaches usually begin slowly and gradually. They often start in the middle of the day.

Another name for this type of headache is "stress headache." When people say they have a stress headache, they usually mean they have a tension headache. Tension headaches may be mild or severe.

What is a cluster headache?

A cluster headache is a rare type of headache. Cluster headaches typically occur once or more daily at the same times each day for up to 12 weeks, until the "cluster period" is over.

Cluster headaches are more common in men and usually start very suddenly. The pain is usually located behind or around one eye and is very severe. The eye and nose on the same side as the pain may become red, swollen and runny. Cluster headaches also cause restlessness. These headaches can be frightening for the sufferer and the people around him or her.

A cluster headache can last a few minutes or several hours, but it usually lasts for 45 to 90 minutes. The most common times for cluster headaches seem to be between 1:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. and around 9:00 p.m. Cluster periods usually last 4 to 8 weeks and may occur seasonally, such as in spring or fall. Then, no cluster headaches will occur for weeks, months or even years.

What are rebound headaches?

Also known as medication-overuse headache, rebound headaches happen every day or almost every day. They may be caused by using too much pain medicine. Rebound headaches usually begin early in the morning. The pain can be different each day. People who have rebound headaches also may have nausea, anxiety, irritability, depression or problems sleeping.


See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 01/93