11 Types of Headaches That You Should Never Ignore

Publish On: 09 Jul, 2019 03:00 PM | Updated   |   SJ Desk  
11 Types of Headaches That You Should Never Ignore

ou might have had some minor headaches that you treated with some over-the-counter pain relievers. But do you know that some severe or unusual headaches could be a sign of serious health issues like stroke, high blood pressure, carbon monoxide poisoning, concussion, a tumor, or a blood clot? In fact, they could lead to death if you don’t treat them in time.

Therefore it is important that you listen to your body and understand what triggers your headaches and what signs they are showing. This can help you detect them early and treat them more efficiently.

I will show you some types of headaches that you should never ignore. Please be warned, don’t try to diagnose or treat them with your own discretion. The moment you notice the symptoms of these headaches, ensure you consult your doctor for immediate checkup and treatment.


1. Tension Headache

Whenever you feel pains like a band across your forehead especially when you’re tired or fatigued, it is a typical sign of Tension headaches. This headache is commonly experienced by 90% of people in their lifetime. However, never ever ignore this type of headache because it can reduce your level of concentration and interrupt your work.

Although the exact cause of tension headache is unknown, there are still some factors that can make you have tension headaches. They include:

  • drinking of excess alcohol or caffeinated drink
  • Skipping meals
  • Drinking less water
  • Poor vision, especially when reading in low light for long periods
  • Stress

Some common signs you’ll notice when you have tension headaches include:

  • Aches on both sides of the head, most often the front
  • Sensitivity to noise and bright light.
  • Tightness in the muscles of your neck and lower back
  • Increased pain as the day goes on
  • Prolonged pain for several days
  • Tiredness and discomfort

Although this headache does not disturb sleep, it can really get worse if you sleep in an awkward position; nonetheless, you’d feel less pain in the morning. 
Tension headaches require immediate medical attention. However, you can treat them in the following ways

  • Use of simple painkillers
  • Change in lifestyle-Sensible diet, low intake of alcohol and caffeine
  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Avoiding excess noise
  • Changing pillows (helps sometimes)
  • Relax using methods like meditation, yoga, massage or even a nap


2. Migraine Headache

Migraine headache is a neurological condition that is often one-sided, throbbing and disabling.  When you have a migraine, you tend to have 1-2 attacks every month and this can be debilitating. As a matter of fact, if you ignore it, it can become severe and lead to complications such as stroke and bleeding in the brain, loss of vision and slurry speech.

Though the causes of migraine aren’t understood yet, environmental and genetic factors have been found to play a role. This headache may be caused or triggered by

  • Imbalances in brain chemicals- including serotonin, which is involved in pain regulation.
  • Hormonal changes in women, especially during menstruation, pregnancy or menopause.
  • Fasting or skipping meals or eating excess salty and processed foods.
  • Preservatives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) found in many foods.
  • Caffeinated beverages or alcoholic drinks
  • Sun glare and bright lights
  • Loud sounds
  • Strong smells- including paint thinner, perfumes, smoke and others
  • Too much sleep or missing sleep
  • Prolonged intense activity including sexual activity
  • Weather change
  • Vasodilators and oral contraceptives such as nitroglycerin

All these factors could trigger migraines which could last from four hours to three days.  Some symptoms you need to watch out for include:

  • Pains accompanied by Nausea and Vomiting
  • Firework displays in the shape of zigzag (warning symptoms before a migraine)
  • Tingling or weakness on one side of the body
  • Sensitivity to sound and light
  • Reaction to food

All these symptoms can last for up to an hour before a headache. So you can consult your doctor as soon as you notice any of these signs because they signify an oncoming migraine.

Migraine can be treated or improved with:

  • Painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol
  • Sleep/rest
  • Quietness and darkness
  • Drinking water
  • Special migraine medications prescribed by a doctor

However, it is best you consult your doctor before using any form of medication.


3. Sinus Headache

Sinus headache is usually caused by nasal obstruction. However, this begins when you have a viral infection or allergy. You should never ignore this headache because it can cause hay fever, also known as rhinitis, or chronic rhinosinusitis when the nasal blockage is consistent. 
Therefore, there are some symptoms that accompany a sinus headache that you should report to your doctor. Some of them include:

  • Pains around your sinus area or in the front of your head
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Discolored mucus
  • Mild or severe pains around your eyes and nose
  • Fever
  • Running nose

Your doctor may help treat this headache by:

  • Prescribing antibiotics to clear any sinus infection and headaches. 
  • Thinning out the mucus that forms and cause sinus pressure
  • Using OTC decongestants such as phenylephrine (Sudan PE)
  • Using Antihistamine such as cetirizine (Zyrtec D Allergy + Congestion)


4. Cluster Headache

This headache is uncommon and it affects just 1% of the population. However, it can be very severe, that’s why it is sometimes called ‘suicide headaches’.

When you have cluster headaches, it usually comes in clusters daily over several weeks. In other words, they tend to occur at the same time every day. Never ignore this headache because it can lead to poor memory, disturbance of mood, and poorer quality of life.

So, always report any of the following symptoms commonly associated with this headache before it gets into the chronic stage:

  • Constant excruciating pain behind the eyes, especially after sleep
  • Red watery eye
  • Droopy eyelid
  • Running

Whenever you notice these symptoms following a severe headache, make sure you report to your doctor. Doctors usually believe the hypothalamus is the major part of the brain involved in cluster headaches because they control our body clock. This headache may be treated with oxygen therapy, a local anesthetic (lidocaine) or Sumatriptan (Imitrex).

Further, your doctor would recommend some drugs including Corticosteroids, topiramate (Topamax) melatonin or calcium channel blockers which may help alleviate or put your cluster headaches into remission.


5. Meningitis Headache

Sometimes you may develop headaches when you have a meningitis infection caused by a viral or bacterial agent. You may not know your headaches are from this infection but I’ll show you some symptoms you should never ignore apart from the pains you feel in your head. Some of them include:

  • Fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Sore throat

If you fail to report these symptoms associated with the headache, it could be aggravated and lead to serious nervous problems and death. So, it is advisable that you go for a medical checkup.

Your doctor would analyze your spinal fluid and the amount and type of white cells present. This helps to determine if this headache is due to a viral or bacterial infection.

If the cause of the headache is diagnosed to be bacterial, antibiotics are administered to treat the infection with immediate effect. Viral infections are treated by controlling the fever and analgesics are generally administered alongside to tackle the headache.



Not all headaches can be self-managed or treated with levity. Some including tension, migraine, sinus, cluster, and meningitis headaches are actually dangerous and could lead to a lot of chronic health issues and even death if left untreated. Therefore, make sure you go for a checkup whenever you notice the symptoms of these headaches. This will help your doctor diagnose and administer the best treatment to curtail the headache and boost your overall well-being.