Headaches generally are divided into primary headache syndromes, including migraine, tension type, and cluster headaches, and secondary headache causes.”1


The differences in subjective descriptions of pain between patients and the many conditions associated with headaches, ranging from benign to severe, makes diagnosis difficult. See the links below for specifics regarding the presentations, risk factors, appropriate investigations and management of the many different headache syndromes. 


“Sudden onset headache, especially if it begins during exertion (including coughing, defecation, etc.), is an independent predictor of intracranial pathology.”1 (Thunderclap Headaches


Primary Headaches:1


Secondary Headaches:1


Life Threatening causes of headache:1


Click HERE for a list of all mentioned FOAM resources.


  1. Denny, C., Schull, M., Chapter 159, “Headache and Facial Pain”. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine – A Comprehensive Study Guide. J Tintinalli. 7th ed. McGraw-Hill Education, 2010.


Prepared by Alex Mungham PGY1 FM – University of Ottawa