Types of Headache

This chart may help you to understand what type of headache you have. If you have more than one type of headache, this chart may be harder to use. Also, not every patient fits neatly into one category, so your headache may act differently from what you see here. If you have your history taken by our experts, the clinical impression will be more accurate.

Caution: without a physical examination by your physician and appropriate testing, an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment are not possible.

  Migraine with Aura (MA) Migraine without Aura (MoA) Chronic Migraine (CM) Tension-Type Headache (TTHA) Cluster Headache (Cluster) Other Cause
More common in Female Female Female Female > Male Male Male = Female
Pain type Throbbing Throbbing Mixed Steady Steady pressure Fluctuating
Pain intensity Variable Moderate to Severe Moderate to Severe Mild to Moderate Excruciating Steadily increases over time
Pain side One-sided One-sided Both sides Both sides One-sided Always same location
Frequency 1-6 days per month 1-6 days per month 15-30 days per month 1-7 days per week 1-4 times per day for 3-8 weeks Steadily increases over time
Duration 4 to 72 hours 4 to 72 hours 4 to 24 hours 1 to 24 hours 45 minutes to 3 hours Steadily increases over time
Nausea Yes Yes Yes No No Variable, depending on cause
Aura present Yes No Sometimes No No Usually no
Disability Sometimes Yes Yes No Briefly Steadily increases over time
Seasonal Yes Yes No No Spring/Fall No
Time of day Any time Early morning All day Any time Evening & awakens at 1-3 am Can awaken from sleep
Menstrually related Not often Yes Yes No No No
Triggers Many Many No Stress Alcohol, sleep No

For a more accurate clinical impression and treatment suggestions, you should take ProMyHealth's headache questionnaire.