Which headache types are common?
People who are seeking medical help for their headaches usually have migraine.
Although tension type headaches are more common than migraine about 40% of people have tension type headaches from time to time, the headache attacks are not usually as severe as those of migraine.
As a result, most patients who are seeing their family doctor for headache, and most people whose headaches interfere with their ability to do things, have migraine. Migraine is also very common. About 12% of women and 6% of men have migraine.
Many people have migraine and don’t realize it. Even some doctors fail to diagnose migraine when in fact the patient does have migraine. This may be because migraine can take a number of different forms.
Some people with migraine will have an aura, which usually consists of visual symptoms which last about 20 to 30 minutes, before a headache attack. Most people with migraine however will not have any auras, or only have them with a very occasional migraine headache.
In the same way, while many people with migraine have one-sided headache attacks with severe throbbing pain, others have headaches that involve both sides of the head which may not throb very much. Some people experience a worsening of their migraine during an attack when they are exerting themselves, such as climbing stairs or engaging in other physical activity.
Finally, although many people with migraine have nausea and even at times vomiting during a headache attack, other people do not. However, to diagnose migraine a headache sufferer must have either nausea or significant light and sound sensitivity during a headache attack. Many people have all three. Diagnostic criteria have been developed for migraine. Keep in mind, though, that one of the diagnostic criteria is that there must be no other cause for your headaches. Sometimes, other conditions can cause headache attacks that resemble those of migraine. Only your doctor, based upon your history and physical, and the results of test if these are needed, can determine if this criterion is met.
The other headache types are all much less common than migraine and tension-type headache.