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How Are Migraines And Headaches Classified?

If you have had your fair share of headaches in life then you know from experience that not all headaches come the same. Some are centralized at particular locations, others are all over the place while yet others seem to keep shifting places on the head. The difference is mostly a direct result of the triggers causing the headaches in the first place. But because of the fact that headaches can be triggered by so many different things, knowing the cause of the headache can be quite difficult even for trained and experienced professionals. Without knowing the exact cause of the headache, a doctor or physician could easily make a misdiagnosis and end up either completely failing to solve the problem or making it even worse than it was before.

In an effort to help doctors better understand headaches and diagnose them properly, the International Headache Society released its newest system for headache classification in the year 2013. While releasing the classification, they were very keen to warn doctors and health practitioners to stick to the guidelines provided so that they can diagnose headaches properly

Headache classifications

Under the new classification system, headaches have been split into three major categories depending on the exact source of the pain. These categories include the following:

Primary headaches– this category includes the more common types of headaches such as migraines, tension headaches and cluster headaches. The tension headaches are by far the most common of all three and occur more in women than in men. Migraines can affect both adults and children among adults more women suffer from migraines than men do. The cluster headaches are the least common with their highest prevalence being among young people in their late 20s and particularly the menfolk.

Secondary headaches– these are headaches that are direct results of some underlying structural problems in the neck and the head. The category is very wide and covers everything from an infected tooth and infected sinuses to more serious conditions like meningitis and brain cancer. Also falling into this category are the headaches that result from physical trauma especially when they are post-concussion headaches. Rebound headaches, which occur from misuse of pain medication, and headaches caused by alcohol and substance abuse can also be classified within this category under the International Headache Society guidelines.

Cranial neuralgias– headaches that are classified as cranial neuralgias are the least commonly reported headaches and result from the inflammation of any or all of the 12 nerves located in the head. They are also arguably the most painful and also the most difficult to treat. Dealing with headaches in this category requires the input of a professional expert who knows exactly what he or she is doing.

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