I can picture it now. You’re sitting there late at night breaking out into a cold sweat, heart racing, convincing yourself a brain tumor is the cause of your headache as you are Googling a variety of terms for your headache location meaning such as…
temple headache, headache behind eye, headache behind eyes, headache on top of head, headache in the temples, headache back of head, headache in front of head, headache on one side, front of head headache, headache on right side, headache on left side, headache in temple, headache forehead, pain behind eye, headache behind the eyes, headache and nausea, pain behind eyes, headache on left side of head, headache on right side of head, headache in back of head,
front head headache, headache temple, headache at the front of head, stomach upset, left side headache, right side headache, headache behind right eye, temples headache, headache behind left eye, nausea and headache, pain in head, sharp pain in head, neck pain and headache, constant headache, head pressure, ice-pick headache, headache front, pressure headache, sex headache, exertion headache, cough headache, right temple headache, left temple headache,
throbbing headache, headache meaning location, frontal headache, types of headaches diagram, headache types chart, pounding headache, headache locations chart, headaches in eyes, pain top of head, headache above left eye, headache map, headache above right eye, etc…
Ok, I think you get the point. Sound familiar? Now that you’ve earned your honorary Doctor Google degree, let me help provide some direction for your headache self-research to determine types of headaches and location, areas of headaches, and headache location meaning.
But let me tell you a BIG secret…
Headaches are not diagnosed based only on their location. They are diagnosed by the “company they keep”. In other words, the characteristics, patterns, and associated symptoms that go with the headache are the most important pieces of information to narrow down the most likely headache types. Headache location by itself without any other information is actually quite useless.
The International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD3) classifies every headache type according to the headache and all of the associated features. Each headache type must match a specific set of characteristics and associated symptoms set forth in the criteria. Headache location is only one of many features taken into account.
By combining the headache location with associated symptoms, patterns, and characteristics of the pain, it can then be more accurately narrowed down. This makes choosing the correct treatment more accurate and effective. This is absolutely key.
The end result is that you are on a more effective path to improvement rather than throwing “headache” pills randomly at a headache that hasn’t given a specific name. Thus, the treatment being used may not be the treatment that your specific type of headache needs (and sometimes it can even make it worse). I see this scenario in my headache clinic every day given the shortage of headache specialists. This is why I created a FREE headache and facial pain symptom checker.
Let’s take migraine as just one example. Migraine can vary widely in its location between patients and between attacks within the same patient. Any one of those Googled headache location terms listed at the top could potentially represent migraine. Those locations could also represent many other specific types of headaches as well. Many of those other headache types would require a different type of treatment or evaluation than migraine would.
The headache location doesn’t fully match with migraine until you combine it with the required criteria of associated symptoms that make the migraine diagnosis. These other symptoms include things such as nausea, sensitivity to light (photophobia), sensitivity to sound (phonophobia), throbbing or pounding pain, moderate to severe pain intensity, worsening with exercise, one sided predominance, and of course ruling out other more concerning “secondary” causes of the headaches.
So clearly, Googling the headache location alone doesn’t help you figure out the cause or type of the headache at all, nor the most effective treatment. The bottom line is that location of pain alone doesn’t narrow down the type of headache or facial pain that you have. The associated symptoms and patterns that go with the headache are the keys to deciphering between the possible headache types.
Thus, I created a FREE headache and facial pain symptom checker. The purpose is to help and provide you with more personalized self-research with a list of possible headache types. This list can be discussed with your doctor. My hope is to help you and your doctor have a more useful discussion of possible headache types to think about, as well as better treatment considerations.
Remember, any type of headache and facial pain requires an office visit and physical examination with your doctor. There is no way around this requirement. This symptom checker tool is purely educational to provoke thinking of a variety of headache possibilities. However, bad causes of headache can present as mild and simple headache disorders such as migraine. So, a visit to your doctor to evaluate your headache is a mandatory step that you must do.
When you are trying to narrow down the type of headache or facial pain you may have, the following characteristics and symptoms must be taken into consideration. These are the key questions a headache specialist will ask you in the office. Go through the following list of headache features and symptoms, think about each one, and write down your responses.
If you have different types of headaches, it is important to focus on and think about only one type at a time (even though they are typically different manifestations of the same underlying headache disorder).
1) Location of pain.
As mentioned above, pain location is only one of many important characteristics of a headache disorder. Without factoring in the associated symptoms, patterns, and characteristics, it is quite useless alone. I have broken down 8 general patterns of headache and facial pain locations to choose from. Go through the following headache location charts and pick the one that is most consistent with your headache or facial pain location.
These are screenshots from the first step of the headache and facial pain symptom checker tool. There may be some variation to your attacks and the location may vary between different attacks, so pick the one which summarizes the areas involved most commonly for the particular type of headache you are analyzing.
2) Frequency of the headache or facial pain attacks.
How often do the attacks of headache of facial pain occur? Once per day and several days per month, 8 different attacks per day, etc.? Is there a pattern to the attacks, such as a seasonal occurrence?
3) Duration of the headache or facial pain attacks.
When you get an attack of headache or facial pain, how long does each individual attack last until it goes away completely if it is untreated or unsuccessfully treated? 30 minutes, greater than 4 hours, 15 minutes, several days, etc.?
4)Description and characterization of the headache or facial pain.
How would you describe the pain of the headache or facial pain if you had to put it into words? Throbbing, pounding, pulsating, achy, excruciating, pressure, electrical, shock, burning, sharp, stabbing, ice pick stabbing, etc.?
5) Associated neurological symptoms.
Is the headache associated with visual disturbances such as lost vision, flashing lights, shapes, zig-zags, colors, wavy lines, kaleidoscope, jagged edges, etc.? Is there numbness or tingling in an area of the body associated with a headache attack such as on one side of the face and body? Is there weakness on one side of the body with the headache? Are there problems speaking or getting words out with a headache attack?
6) Additional symptoms.
Is your stomach upset or do you feel nauseated or sick to your stomach with a headache attack? Do you vomit? Do you feel sensitive to bright light and/or loud sound when the headache is at its worst (where you would prefer to be in a dark quiet area if you had the chance)?
Does an eye turn red or tear excessively during a headache attack? Does your nose run or get congested on one side during a headache attack? Does your eyelid droop on one side or does it get puffy around an eye on one side with a headache attack?
When you are done going through and thinking about all of these headache characteristics, patterns, and associated symptoms, take a run through this FREE headache and facial pain symptom checker. This will give you a list of possible headache types to consider, and treatments to discuss with your doctor. From that list, you will be directed to the most common and effective treatments for you and your doctor to consider together. These vary widely depending on the specific type of headache.
For example, for migraine there are a wide variety of effective treatments for aborting (taking something “as needed” to stop) a migraine attack including triptans, gepants (Ubrelvy, Nurtec), ditans (Reyvow), and neuromodulatory devices, If the frequency of attacks is high, there are many effective preventive migraine treatments consisting of medications, CGRP monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatments (Aimovig, Ajovy, Emgality, Vyepti), gepants, Botox, natural supplements, herbals and vitamins, neuromodulatory devices, yoga and meditation, acupuncture, acupressure and pressure points.
Good luck! I hope this tool leads you in a better direction of more educational and effective discussions with your doctor regarding possible headache types and more effective treatment considerations.
Do me a HUGE favor and if you have found this headache symptom checker tool helpful and it led to a more successful outcome of narrowing down your headache types and treatments when you saw your doctor, PLEASE let me know and drop me a message here or on Twitter!!
IF YOU HAVE HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN AND ARE LOOKING FOR ANSWERS ON ANYTHING RELATED TO IT, A HEADACHE SPECIALIST IS HERE TO HELP, FOR FREE!
FIRST, LET’S DECIDE WHERE TO START:
IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION, HOT TOPICS, AND TREATMENT TIPS, VISIT OUR FREE BLOG OF HOT TOPICS AND HEADACHE TIPS HERE. THIS IS WHERE I WRITE AND CONDENSE A BROAD VARIETY OF COMMON AND COMPLEX MIGRAINE AND HEADACHE RELATED TOPICS INTO THE IMPORTANT FACTS AND HIGHLIGHTS YOU NEED TO KNOW, ALONG WITH PROVIDING FIRST HAND CLINICAL EXPERIENCE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A HEADACHE SPECIALIST.
IF YOU DON’T HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR POSSIBLE TYPES OF HEADACHES OR FACIAL PAINS BASED ON YOUR SYMPTOMS, USE THE FREE HEADACHE AND FACIAL PAIN SYMPTOM CHECKER TOOL DEVELOPED BY A HEADACHE SPECIALIST NEUROLOGIST HERE!
IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR FURTHER EDUCATION AND SELF-RESEARCH ON YOUR DIAGNOSIS, VISIT OUR FREE EDUCATION CENTER HERE.
The threemost common types of headaches are called primary headaches. Primary headaches have no specific underlying cause and include tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches. Each type has unique symptoms and causes. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. They are caused by stress and tension in the muscles of the neck and head. Symptoms include tightness or pressure around the forehead or temples and a dull ache in the back of the head. Migraines are the most common headache that patients seek medical care for with a doctor. They include symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Cluster headaches aremore cyclical and are fairly consistent in their occurrence. They include severe pain, redness and tearing of an eye, and runny nose or congestion. Secondary headaches are headaches with an underlying cause that can be found on testing.
You’ll be easily able to isolate the type of headache that you have by looking at a headache chart. Headache charts show the location, helping you identify the major area of pain. A doctor is going to be able to help you further diagnose the headache and find a treatment, based on associated specific headache characteristics. They can help determine if it is a primary headache or a secondary headache. Primary headaches have no specific underlying cause, while secondary headaches have an underlying cause, such as a sinus headache from an infection.
People who report a COVD-19 headache will often experience pressure or throbbing that dominates their entire head. The headache most often resembles tension type headache or migraine. The headache is often worse when bending over and it can be accompanied by a fever, body aches, and fatigue. Nasal congestion and a sore throat are also common symptoms. People who suffer from a COVID-19 headache will often report their symptoms going away as soon as the disease itself subsides, while long-haulers may experience a COVID-19 headache that persists for months, or that never resolves.
Acute headaches are types of headaches that are relatively infrequent while chronic headaches are frequent and consistent. Acute headaches can be severe in certain situations when they have a sudden onset with intense pain. Chronic headaches can be indicative of an underlying problem. Acute headaches tend to happen less than fifteen days per month for less than 3 months, while chronic headaches last for more than fifteen days per month for 3 or more months.
Thunderclap headaches are a type of headache where the onset is very rapid, developing in under one minute. They are often characterized as a “first or worst headache” These types of headaches can be a symptom of bleeding in the brain or an aneurysm rupture, requiring immediate evaluation by a doctor. Certain types of strokes can also cause thunderclap headaches. These headaches need to be addressed with emergency care by a qualified physician.
You should see a doctor if your headaches are causing you discomfort or are impacting your daily life. Any type of headache is reason enough to see a doctor. If your headaches are worse than what they typically are, happen more frequently, have new features or neurological symptoms, and don’t respond to conservative treatments, this is a sign that you should likely visit a medical professional. There are certain types of doctors that specialize in headaches, called headache specialists
There are various natural headache remedies available. These can include:
- Yoga and other relaxation techniques.
- Dietary changes, to limit certain types of foods that can cause headaches.
- Certain types of non-caffeinated teas will help alleviate headaches.
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol and ingesting enough water will also help with headache prevention and relief.
When you first notice the onset of a headache, certain types of pain relievers are going to be your first line of relief. NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen will help you with general pain relief. If you are experiencing a migraine, then triptans like sumatriptan and zolmitriptan will help to abort the headache. Acetaminophen is also available for pain relief, but it doesn’t work as well for headaches that are caused by inflammation. The gepants, such as rimegepant and ubrogepant, are a new type of migraine pill which are also very effective.
The most common type of headache is tension headache, which is often associated with stress. Tension headaches are going to feel like a dull pain in your head, usually described as an achy pressure. It is often band-like pressure around the head. You will also likely feel some pressure on the sides of your head and your scalp. Sometimes, the muscles in your neck may hurt, too.
The cause of tension headaches is most commonly stress but can be aggravated by things like caffeine, poor posture, and lack of exercise. Stress headaches can often be relieved with over-the-counter medication.