Tension Headache Symptoms

Tension headache usually produces a dull, steady ache on both sides of the head. The pain usually increases over a period of hours. A small number of tension-headache patients report that, when at its worst, the pain develops a pulsating quality.

Tension headache pain also has been described as pressure or tightness around the head—as though a band were pulled tightly around it or as if it were clamped in a vise.

Muscular tenderness in areas of the neck, the base of the skull, scalp, forehead, face, jaw, shoulders, or upper arms may be present in tension-headache sufferers. The scalp and forehead may be painful to the touch. Some people may show signs of clenching their teeth.

Cluster Headache Symptoms

A person experiencing cluster headache may have up to 8 attacks per day, each lasting about 15 to 45 minutes or longer. Attacks often come in the night or early morning hours and waken the patient from sleep.

The pain of cluster headaches usually is located around one eye and is almost always on one side of the head (unilateral). There can be nasal stuffiness and tearing with the headache.

The pain is excruciating for most people and lying down often makes cluster headaches worse. Some people pace the floor and move about, unable to find relief.

Migraine Headache Symptoms

Migraine headaches often cause accompanying symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity. Read more about migraine symptoms.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 01 Jan 2002

Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014