No More Headaches: What Kind of Headache is It?

Got a headache? No wonder. A recent survey by the National Headache Foundation showed that the tough financial times are hiking anxiety and wrecking sleep for many of us, triggering even more headache pain.

Sadly, we cant do much about Wall Street. We can help with that headache, though—whether its a throbbing in your temples after skipping lunch, a pain behind your eyes from staring at your computer, or a dull ache the morning after youve had a little too much to drink.

Take the Migraine Quiz
What really triggers that debilitating pain in your head?  Read more
Use our handy guides on the following pages to learn about the most common headache types—then talk to your doctor.

Who gets them The most common form of headache, tension-type headaches strike 100 million Americans a year. Some sufferers get them every day.

What happens in your head Stress makes muscles (neck, scalp, jaw) spasm, stimulating pain receptors in the brain. Some experts now believe changes in brain chemicals may be another culprit.

Where it hurts Top or both sides of the head

How it feels Steady, bandlike pressure around the head that doesnt get worse with normal physical activity

Other symptoms May feel pain in the neck and shoulders or become sensitive to light or sound

Common triggers Lack of sleep, eyestrain, poor posture, irregular meals, stress, worry

Treatment OTC meds with acetaminophen (Tylenol, Excedrin) usually lessen pain. Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) can zap pain and reduce inflammation. Overuse can cause rebound headaches, though, so see your doc if youre popping pills more than two days a week.

Good to know Tension-type headaches typically last 30 minutes or even a few days.

123 Next
Lead writer: Laurie Herr
Last Updated: April 15, 2009

Updates, news, special offers, and expert tips to stop aches and pains from interrupting your life.

More Ways to Connect with Health