Types of Headaches
Secondary Headache TypesLike other types of pain, headaches can serve as warning signals of more serious conditions. This is the case with some types of secondary headaches, which are headaches caused by an underlying condition. Many conditions can cause headaches, including those related to meningitis, as well as those resulting from diseases of the sinuses, spine, neck, ears, and teeth. Other possible types of secondary headaches include those caused by:
- Mini-strokes (transient ischemic attacks or TIAs)
- Seizures (postictal headaches)
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Brain tumors
- Brain abscesses, which are pockets of pus inside of the brain
- Bleeding inside of the brain, such as with a subdural hematoma
- Acute iritis
- Temporal arteritis (giant cell arteritis)
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage, which is bleeding into the space just outside of the brain
- Pseudotumor cerebri, which a condition in which pressure builds up inside of the brain because of an increase in fluid.
Secondary headaches can also occur:
- Following a lumbar puncture or spinal anesthesia (which can result in spinal headaches)
- During or following intercourse (which can result in coital headaches or orgasm headaches)
- Following a concussion or other head injury (which can result in postconcussion headaches)
- As part of certain medical conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis), systemic lupus erythematosus, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, pheochromocytoma, or HIV/AIDS
- As a result of certain types of infections, such as ear infections, strep throat, sinus infections (which can result in sinus headaches), Lyme disease, or the flu.
Because headaches can be caused by underlying medical problems, make sure to see your healthcare provider if your attacks:
- Start after age 50
- Are different or more severe than past attacks
- Are triggered by coughing or bending
- Are linked to a stiff neck and a fever
- Are accompanied by blurred vision, slurred speech, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, or convulsions
- Make it difficult for you to think or remember
- Cause severe vomiting
- Follow a severe head injury.
Children with recurring headaches should also see a healthcare provider.