Headaches are commonly differentiated as follows:

Type Definition Categories

The pain is the illness. Tension and Pressure Headaches.
Migraine Headaches.
Cluster Headaches.
Exertion Headaches.

The pain results from an underlying illness.

Various conditions including:
Brain Tumor, Infection, Head Injury, Bleeding in Brain, Glaucoma etc.

Barometric Pressure Headache symptoms and intensity vary considerably between people as does the individual’s sensitivity and warning period prior to a full-blown headache developing. In some cases this can unfortunately lead to an actual Barometric Pressure Headache sufferer being diagnosed and treated for an entirely different category of headache that happens to have certain traits in common. Keeping a Headache Diary is essential in order to ascertain whether an individual is barometric pressure sensitive, the degree of their sensitivity and the precise weather or altitude conditions that cause their headaches or trigger their migraines.

The following shows symptoms that a person with a Barometric Pressure Headache may experience, as well as other distinct types of headache that may share a common trait:

Barometric Pressure Non-Migraine Headaches

Possible Symptoms Other conditions and their distinguishing trait
  • Headache can be one side (Unilateral) but typically both sides of the head (Bilateral).
  • May involve a tight band of pressure that can move slowly and can be vise-like in nature.

Unilateral pain (only on one side) may be diagnosed as:

  • Migraines (See Barometric Pressure Migraine Headache symptoms below). Unilateral migraine headaches often change sides from one attack to the next.
  • Cluster Headaches are intensely painful stabbing unilateral headaches that develop suddenly and occur in groups or clusters possibly daily for months. They last usually between 30 -45 minutes (up to 3 hours) and are common at night. Cluster Headaches typically begin as minor pain around one eye (reddened) and spread on that side of the face. Facial sweating with a runny nose or nasal congestion and puffy or lowered upper eyelid is common. Pain distress can be extreme and sometimes to the point of self harm.
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia related headaches are intensely painful and usually radiates outwards from around the ‘cheek’ area. They are typically described as being more lance-like in quality.

Bilateral pain (both sides of the head) can be diagnosed as:

  • Migraines – Many migraineurs report that their pain is bilateral approximately one third of the time.
  • Tension Headache (correct term is Tension-Type Headache) are usually mild to moderate in severity, typically involving a dull (non pulsating) pressing or pulling pain that radiates possibly from the head, scalp, neck, back, eyes, or other muscle groups in the body. The pain does not increase with routine physical activity. These headaches are not associated with nausea/vomiting but the person may be sensitive to either light or sound.

Pain centered around forehead and nasal bridge region. May be diagnosed as a Sinus Headache which is due to allergies, infection or irritation of the sinus.
Pounding type pain in the back and lower rear (occipital) region of the head. May be diagnosed as an Occipital Headache (Occipital Neuralgia) or even an Eye Related Headache.
Barometric Pressure Migraine Headaches

Although it is possible for a person with Barometric Pressure Migraine Headaches to experience some of the symptoms noted above, they will in addition, exhibit more than one of the following migraine symptoms shown below:

Possible Symptoms Other conditions and their distinguishing traits

  • Periodic, severe and debilitating headaches typically lasting 4-72 hrs (average 24 hrs).
  • Predominately unilateral pain though bilateral pain is also common.
  • Intense pain typically around one or both temples but can involve the forehead, eyes, ears or back of head.
  • Nausea with or without vomiting.
  • Stomach pains with possible diarrhea.
  • Depression.
  • An aura that is characterized by visual disturbances and/or waves of pressure or tingling or numbness across face, head and extremities which in some sufferers precede a migraine attack whilst others may continue to experience these symptoms for many hours.
  • Altered perception.
  • Impaired speech.
  • Sensitivity to sound, light or odours.

Migraines are a category of Primary Headache where the pain and symptoms are the illness. Therefore, a person who has been medically diagnosed as being a migraineur will experience certain symptoms, which though debilitating, will not be due to any serious or life threatening underlying medical condition.

However, a person that has not been clinically diagnosed as a migraineur and who begins to exhibit some of the listed symptoms e.g.unusual or particularly intense or prolonged stomach pains or vomiting or diarrhea, numbness, altered perception, impaired speech, depression etc. should consider seeking medical advice in order to rule out any serious underlying illness or condition. Numerous medical conditions unrelated to migraines exhibit some of the symptoms listed. Erring on the side of caution is advisable but do remember that in the vast majority of cases, the cause will not be serious or life threatening e.g. a disc issue in the neck region can cause numbness or tingling, a seasonal virus may produce vomiting or diarrhea, winter depression can be caused by seasonal affective disorder and of course, the person may be experiencing a migraine !

  • Strong and pulsating pain typically on one side of the head.
  • Waves of throbbing or pulsing pain may be in synch with the heart beat where pain is triggered from blood vessels stretching every time the heart beats.
May be diagnosed as a Transformed Migraine which tend to develop in people in their 20-30’s who have had a history of migraines in their earlier years and may have other health issues such as depression or hypertension. Transformed Migraines are chronic, daily vascular (throbbing) headaches, often less severe than typical migraines but can still be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. They are often misdiagnosed as Tension HeadachesTransformed Migraine sufferers are at higher risk from painkiller over-medicating and addiction including Rebound Headaches (particularly associated with medication containing caffeine) due to the high frequency and daily nature of their headaches ( refer to Caffeine and Headaches and see Caffeine Disadvantages).