How can you tell a tension headache from a cluster headache?
Answered by Discovery Fit & Health
  • Discovery Fit & Health

    Discovery Fit & Health

  1. A bad headache can ruin your whole day. While some people suffer from debilitating, chronic migraines, others may experience different types of pain, ranging from tension headaches to cluster headaches. But how can you tell the difference between the two?

    A tension headache often feels like pressure all over the head, or like your head is in a vise. It can last from a few hours to a few days. Fortunately, it's the least severe type of headache. Tension headaches can be episodic or chronic. The episodic headache generally comes and goes when you're fatigued, stressed or anxious. A chronic headache occurs regularly, even daily, over a period of weeks or months. It's often caused by physical or psychological problems, such as strained or stretched muscles, eyestrain, a misaligned bite, arthritis, joint disorders and depression [source: MedlinePlus].

    Cluster headaches tend to be rarer. You can tell a cluster headache from a tension headache because the pain from a cluster headache is so intense. The pain usually occurs on one side of the head behind an eye, and the eye often swells, tears and becomes bloodshot. A drooping eyelid or a red eye may signal the onset of a cluster headache. They're called cluster headaches because they can occur in repeated bursts, each of which may last a few minutes to several hours. The bursts can come and go without warning, and the cycle can last for days, weeks or months. The headaches may stop abruptly only to reappear in the same season of the next year [source: Mayo Clinic].

    While tension and cluster headaches are two of the most common types, there are more than 150 different forms of headaches that are classified by the International Headache Society.

    More answers from Discovery Fit & Health »

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