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    Get to know more about your headache

    Get to Know More about your Headache

    Nearly all of us have suffered from a headache at some point. However, the headache you experience may not be the same as someone else’s. That’s because there are four different types, each having its own pattern of pain and cause. So once you know what type of headache you have, the better you’ll be able to deal with it.


    In this guide

    The four major types of headaches:

    Tension headache
    Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, affecting as many as 8 out of 10 people.

    What does it feel like?
    Tension headache is usually described as a tight band or ‘pulling’ feeling around your head. The pain generally stays the same and does not throb.

    What causes them?
    It might surprise you to learn that the source of pain in tension headache is tender muscles in the head and neck. When you are stressed or tired, the muscles in your head and neck become sore and tender. When these muscles become tense, the pain travels up to your head and you feel it as a headache.

    What triggers them?
    Stress, poor posture, bright lights, and loud noises often trigger tension headaches.

    Migraine headaches

    What does it feel like?
    Migraine pain feels like a throbbing or pulsing pain on one side of your head. You may also experience nausea and sensitivity to light, and even get visual problems such as flashing lights or zigzag lines.

    What causes them?
    It’s not fully understood what causes a migraine, but it’s thought to be associated with increased blood flow to the head.

    What triggers them?
    Migraines can be brought on by bright lights, certain foods and hormone changes.

    Cluster headaches

    What does it feel like?
    Cluster headaches get their name because the attacks come in groups and often with little warning. You might experience sudden or severe pain behind your eye and sometimes on one side of your head.

    What causes them?
    It’s not known what causes cluster headaches, but it’s thought to involve the hypothalamus, the brain’s ‘biological clock’.

    What triggers them?
    There are no associated triggers for cluster headaches, although alcohol is thought to set them off.

    Sinus headache

    What does it feel like?
    Sinus headaches feel like a dull, throbbing pain in the front of your head and face. You may feel pressure or fullness around your eyes, cheeks, and forehead. It often gets worse if you move or bend forward.

    What causes them?
    Sinus headaches are caused by congestion and inflammation in your sinuses, the air-filled cavities around your nose, eyes, and cheeks.

    What triggers them?
    Allergies, hay fever or a cold can bring on a sinus headache.

    When should I be concerned about my headache?

    Most headaches are not a sign of a more serious illness. However, you should see your doctor if:

    • Your headache is the result of a head injury
    • You develop problems with your vision such as blurriness
    • Headache symptoms become severe
    • Headache is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever or vomiting.

    Fast relief of headache pain

    There are lots of ways to relieve headache pain. Reducing stress and avoiding common headache triggers can help ease a headache. You can also try a pain reliever such as Nurofen. For fast pain relief, Nurofen Zavance is absorbed up to twice as fast as standard Nurofen.

    Important information

    Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health related matters please contact your doctor.

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    This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice.


    1. Better Health Channel. Headache. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Headache Accessed 19 August 2014.

    2. Medline Plus. Headache. Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/imagepages/17204.htm Accessed 19 August 2014.

    3. Steiner TJ et al. J Headache Pain 2007; 8: S3–47./

    4. Headache Australia. Tension-type Headache - The Most Common Type of Headache. Accessed 12 August 2014.

    5. Bendtsen L, Jensen R. Neurol Clin 2009; 27: 525–35.

    6. Headache Australia. Migraine - ‘a common and distressing disorder’. Accessed 12 August 2014.

    7. Headache Australia. Cluster Headache - Rare and Extremely Painful. Accessed 12 August 2014.

    8. Patient.co.uk Cluster headaches. Available at: https://www.patient.co.uk/health/cluster-headaches Accessed 19 August 2014.

    9. University of Maryland Medical Center. Sinus headache. Available at: https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/sinus-headache Accessed 19 August 2014.

    10. Moore RA et al. Pain 2014; 155: 14–21.

    In this guide