Headaches seem to hit us at the most inconvenient, unprecedented times- in the morning of a midterm exam, during an important job interview, or perhaps seconds before a romantic date. While they are seemingly small and at times trivial, dolor de cabeza, translating to “pain of the head” in Spanish, is strong enough to put a stifling stop to your everyday life, acting as a mental roadblock that obstructs your train of thought from its usual course. Similar to an athlete with a foot cramp, the most minor migraine may slow you down and put a damper on even the most beautiful of days. And like most of the aches and pains of the human body, these mental aches can be more telling than they seem.

While it may be tempting to brush off what feels like an army of little people mercilessly stomping on the internal walls of your brain, the term “headache” describes a wide scope of feeling that can be attributed to different areas of the brain. Identifying the type of headache can go a long way in seeking the relief you need. Desperate times call for desperate measures, from rubbing turmeric on your temples to taking a raw honey bath. These painstaking moments may drive the average individual to great lengths to alleviate the pain. In most recent times, advances in science and medicine have exposed to us a window into the mind that reveals which areas of the brain are generating the pain. This knowledge thus allows the individual to categorize the different types of headaches and find the appropriate ways to assuage any pain or discomfort.

Tension→ pain may start in the jaw and spread across the whole head. It feels tight and uncomfortable, like a rubber bands compressing your head inward. Often targeting the temples.

Tension headaches are the most prevalent type of headache. They often arise from stressful situations, such as working long hours or not getting enough hours of sleep. Tension headaches tell you to work on your posture, take it easy on the workload, join a yoga studio, meditate daily, and perhaps treat yourself to a neck and shoulder massage.

Sinus→ pain dissipates from forehead, down eye sockets toward your cheekbones. Pressure may persist on bridge of nose, often accompanied by dizziness, a fever, and fullness in the ears.

Sinus headaches are usually credited to the common cold, sinus infections, and allergies.

Cluster→ cluster headaches consist of penetrating pains that persist behind one eye and are often triggered from alcohol and smoking. Certain medications can be used, upon doctor’s orders, to relieve the excruciating pain.

Migraines→ experienced as a pulsating pain that are unbearably consuming and make it difficult to think of much else. Sensitivity to light and sound, severity ranges from moderate to severe. Often localized to one side. Triggers for migraines can amount to weather changes, certain foods, and stress.

Dental Headaches→ notorious amongst the list for being one of the most persistent, these result from dental-related conditions such as grinding your teeth at night.

TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, also results in the developing of dull headaches that blossom into migraines during the course of the day, as a result of extreme teeth clenching throughout the night. Mouth guards and other teeth stabilizing services may help relieve the pain.

The Hangover→ a phenomena of those in their twenties, popular amongst late night partygoers, socialites, and wine connoisseurs across every border,  the hangover headache are quick to pass and leave you feeling depleted after a night of drinking.

Easy to treat, these self-inflicted head pains call for water to hydrate the body and a few extra hours of sleep.

Caffeine Withdrawal→ a dull ache that makes you a little less than pleasant in the mornings, the caffeine craze can be directly attributed to a lack of caffeine in the mornings.

A throbbing pain that is felt across the head, this pain is caused by a dilation of blood vessels following a few consecutive days of caffeine consumption. It usually arrives around the same time every morning and quickly goes away upon your first whiff of a freshly brewed cup of joe.

Featured Image by Mislav Marohnić