Headaches are usually classified into three broad categories:
- A muscle contraction, or tension headache, usually affects both sides of the head. It often involves the temple and eye region and possibly the neck. This type of headache evolves over a period of hours, can last days, and tends to remain constant. Sleep disturbance is common with a tension headache.
- Migraine headaches are usually one-sided and give off a throbbing or pounding pain. The pain generally settles behind one eye and may occur frequently or sporadically.
- Cluster headaches are the least common type of headache, but are also the most severe. The pain is intense and is described as a burning or piercing quality that is throbbing or constant. The pain from these headaches is so severe that often the sufferer cannot sit still. The pain is located behind one eye, or in the eye region, and typically does not change sides. Attacks normally occur 1-3 times per day over the course of weeks or months. This time period is called a cluster.