Causes and Types of Headaches and How to Treat Them

By Dr. Drew Voelsch

Causes and Types of Headaches and How to Treat Them

By Dr. Drew Voelsch

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Headaches are a condition that affects the muscles and bones of the head, face, and neck. They can be caused by several things, including stress, tension, poor posture, and physical injuries to the head and neck.

Types of Headaches

Headaches are categorized according to the region of the head and neck affected, the type of pain (throbbing, pounding, or dull), and whether the pain is behind the eyes. Headaches can last from a few minutes to several days. 

Some of the types of headaches include:

Tension-Type headache (TTH)

The most common form of headache is tension headache. This affects about three-fourths of the general population worldwide.

Tension-type headaches affect both men and women and can be mild or severe. The pain is described as a steady ache on both sides of the head. It is characterized by a mild to moderate quality of pain in the front, top, or sides of the head. Pressure-like pain is often felt on both sides at the same time. The intensity of the pain can vary from being barely noticeable to severe.


Migraines are recurring headaches that can be very severe. The pain of migraines can be pretty debilitating, lasting from 4 to 72 hours.

This type of headache affects about 12% of the people in the US. Migraines are more common in women than men. They are characterized by intense pain, usually on one side of the head. The pain can be accompanied by extreme sensitivity to light, noise and head movement. People with migraines can experience nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to odor and flavors. 

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are the least common of all headache disorders. They affect 1% of the population worldwide. They occur in otherwise healthy men between the ages of 20 and 50.

The pain is described as an intense pain that thumps in the temple and behind the eye. The pain can last from 30 minutes to several days. The pain is often described as a sharp, piercing or burning pain. It can be very severe, lasting from 15 minutes to 2 hours. The attacks can occur as frequently as several times a day, or as infrequently as once every few months.

Thunderclap Headache

This type of headache is characterized by severe pain that occurs quickly and lasts only a few seconds. The pain is severe enough to make a person stay in bed for several days. The pain can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

The pain can be described as shock-like, sharp and excruciating on one side of the head. The pain can be accompanied by numbness on the face and neck. The pain is often described as a burning sensation. The pain can last seconds to minutes and be repeated twice a year.

Causes of Headaches

Like most conditions, the exact cause of headaches is not clearly understood. There are a number of known factors which can cause or worsen headaches.

  • Stress and tension
  • Poor posture 
  • Hormonal changes
  • Bright lights, loud sounds, perfumes, and odors 
  • Over consumption of alcohol, stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine, and foods such as MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Teeth, jaw misalignment, and TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder)

Prevention and Remedies of Headaches

There are a few things you can do to prevent and alleviate headaches.

  1. Stay hydrated, getting enough sleep and rest, and exercising regularly can help prevent headaches.
  2. Take ibuprofen and acetaminophen (Tylenol) to treat headaches.
  3. Exercise several times a week. 
  4. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. 
  5. Avoid smoking, alcohol, and caffeine. You can also try to avoid MSG and monosodium glutamate in foods.
  6. Try to reduce stress. Exercise, yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises can help reduce stress.

Alternative and Integrative Treatments

Aside from medication, diet, and exercise, specific alternative treatments are available to help alleviate headaches. They are:

  • chiropractic
  • acupuncture
  • meditation
  • hypnosis
  • herbal and nutritional health products
  • cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)


Headaches can be a nuisance and quite annoying. There are many treatments available to help alleviate the pain. There is no cure for headaches, but treatments are available to help alleviate them. Your doctor can help you find the best treatment that works for you.

Hawkeye Chiropractic provides a certified headaches chiropractor to help alleviate severe headaches and migraines. Let us help you get rid of those debilitating headaches. Contact us today to get started!

“Dr Drew is upfront about what’s going on with your body. He helps work with you to achieve the goals that you as a patient want to set. I highly recommend him to those interested in chiropractic services.P.S Go Cyclones!”

Pronoy DasGupta