What’s Actually Going On When You Have A Headache?

Pass the paracetamol because it feels like there’s a landslide going on in our brains. Headaches are the tennis elbow of the upper body, the crack in the phone screen that is your noggin. They’re pretty much unavoidable; it seems like no matter how hydrated we keep ourselves, they keep coming back.

Like most physical afflictions, it helps to know your enemy. No two headaches are alike and each has an unique solution. Mainlining aspirin sometimes does more damage than good.

Here are the four main offenders and how to treat them.

Tension Headache

Ah, public enemy number one. This brain-pain is caused mainly by the tightness of the muscles on your scalp (who knew the scalp had muscles?!). We’re sure you’re familiar but it feels like a dull pressure around the head. Like the atmosphere¬†has you in a headlock.

De-stressing and time is the best way to deal with this beast. Ginger tea, yoga, taking a warm (not hot) shower to relax the muscles. Try to nap off or shake off this headache before resorting to medication. It’s easily conquered.

Sinus Headache

Common mistaken for a tension headache, this type of headache is caused by sinus infections. If you need a reference point: if it feels like the head pain you get when landing in a plane, it might be a sinus headache.

Cluster Headache

The rarest and most deadly species: only 0.1% of people will ever experience one. As Marie Claire diagnose: “Symptoms include intense pain behind one eye shortly after you fall asleep and can last an hour or two”.

If you find this pain after consuming alcohol and cigarettes, swing by the doctor’s office for some special medication.


You know what migraines feel like. The only way I can describe them to other people is by way of saying that they feel like your body is trying to devolve itself back into a rodent species. You’re sensitive to light, smells and sounds and all you want to do is climb in a warm, dark space and be left alone….

This one requires a day off work and some serious R+R.