1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Is It Migraine? Tension? What?

What Are the Symptoms of the Different Types of Head Pain?


Updated: May 24, 2006


  • throbbing, intense pain, generally moderate to severe

  • usually one-sided, though the pain can move from side to side, and sometimes affects both sides

  • pain is often near the eye of the affected side

  • often disabling

  • may last hours, days, or even weeks

  • in some instances, the Migraine may continue long enough to require an emergency room visit, or even hospitalization, so that stronger medications can be given to break the cycle. (status migrainous) 

  • often accompanied by visual disturbances and/or extreme sensitivity to light, sound, and odors

  • "classic Migraine," experienced by about 20% of Migraineurs is preceded by warning signs called an "aura

  • Migraines without the aura are termed "common Migraine"

Tension Headache: 

  • constant, dull pain, usually mild to moderate pain

  • not incapacitating

  • pain is often accompanied by muscle tightness in the shoulders and neck

  • often on both sides of the head

  • may last an hour, a week, or anywhere in between

  • the pain is often described as a band of pain around the head or "like a vise" 

Sinus/Allergy Headache: 

  • pain generally mild to moderate

  • centered around sinuses, above and below eyes

  • pressure often makes teeth ache as well

  • may be accompanied by feeling of pressure behind the eyes

  • often relieved by decongestants, antihistimines, or other allergy medications.

  • often seasonal 

  • studies have shown that the majority of self-diagnosed sinus headaches are actually Migraine.

Cluster Headache:

  • severe, sharp, stabbing pain

  • usually on one side of the head, centered around the eye

  • almost always severely incapacitating

  • occur in clusters of 1 - 4 headaches a day for several weeks, lasting 10 minutes to two hours each, then stopping for months

  • on the affected side, the eye tears, and the nose is often stuffy or runny

  • most frequent among men

  • occur most often in the fall and spring

>>Please click the link below to continue to page 3, Beating that Head Pain!<<

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Headaches & Migraines
  4. Headaches 101
  5. Headache Education
  6. Is It Migraine? Tension? What? What IS your head pain? How should you treat it? page 2. About Headaches and Migraine

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.