Headaches can throw off your plans, limit your activities, and keep you from enjoying life to the fullest. According to the University Health Report (2018), one in five RPTU students experience headaches at least once a week. We want to help you get a better handle on your headaches and give you tips on what you can actively do about them.

The prerequisite for a proper handling of your own headaches is a certain basic knowledge: What are headaches anyway? What kind of headache do I suffer from? Can I take as many painkillers as I want?

You can find out all this on this page.

What are headaches?

There are over 200 types of headache in total. These can be divided into primary headaches, those that occur independently, and secondary headaches, those that are a symptom of another condition.
The two primary types of headache most commonly occur are tension headache and migraine.

Migraine is often a unilateral pulsating-pounding headache that is accompanied by a number of accompanying symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise. An attack can last from a few hours to several days. Migraine affects approximately 6 - 8% of men and 12 - 14% of women. Migraine can be triggered by a number of triggers, which vary from person to person.

Tension headache occurs in 46-78% of people worldwide at least once in their lifetime, making it the most common type of headache. It is usually described as oppressive with mild to moderate pain intensity (International Headache Society, 2018).

According to the RKI, 57.5% of women and 44.4% of men experience headaches in Germany in a year. In this context, 14.8% of women and 6% of men meet the complete criteria for migraine, and 10.3% of women and 6.5% of men meet those of tension headache (Porst et al., 2020).

In addition to these two types of headache, there are many others, e.g., cluster headache or unusual forms such as thunderclap or coin headache. However, since the two forms migraine and tension headache are by far the most common forms of headache, we present you a quick test to find out which of the two forms you are more likely to suffer from (Göbel, 2012).


"Jeder 5. RPTU-Studi hat mindestens ein Mal pro Woche Kopfschmerzen." (UHR 2021)

What kind of headache type are you?

The headache quick test was developed by the German neurologist Prof. Dr. Göbel and asks with only three questions whether you rather suffer from tension headaches or migraine. It is important to emphasize that this test does not replace a medical diagnosis, but it can provide you with some initial information. If you cannot assign yourself to either type of headache, then it is possible that you are suffering from a medication-overuse headache, for example. You can find out what this is below the prevention tips. However, since headaches can take many different forms, it is of course possible that you have another type of headache that rarely occurs. Therefore, it is best to see a doctor to discuss the results and how to proceed.

based on Göbel, H. (2012). Successful against headache and migraine (6th ed.). Heidelberg: Springer Medizin Verlag. S. 19.

Health Promotion tipps

To prevent headaches from occurring in the first place, we would like to provide you with some important prevention tips. These differ depending on the type of headache (migraine or tension headache). So first use the test to see which type of headache you suffer from to get the tips that are right for you.

...for migraine
First aid for headaches

Painkillers are a proven and popular remedy for headaches. Many throw it in at the first sign of a headache. However, there is a guideline you should stick to. Taking painkillers too often can itself lead to a headache called a medication-overuse headache (MÜK).

Signs of an ME may include having headaches more than 15 days a month, having headaches more and more often, or taking medication for headaches at least 10 days a month.

To avoid an ME, try to stick to the "10/20 rule": only take painkillers on a maximum of 10 days a month and refrain from taking them on 20 days a month.

Tip: For tension headaches, you can also massage peppermint oil on your forehead and temples. Studies have shown that 10% peppermint oil helps just as well as pain pills and produces similar effects in terms of efficacy, speed of onset, and pain intensity reduction. Compared to placebo treatment, pain is highly significantly reduced by peppermint oil. To achieve this, simply apply the oil to the painful areas (temples and forehead) and massage it in. Just give it a try!

...for tension headaches

The best way to understand your headaches is to observe them closely. When do they occur? How do they feel? How long do they last? What did you do immediately before? How much did you drink that day? How stressed are you right now? What did you eat beforehand? What measure helps you against the headache? Write down as much as you can, because the more you know, the better you can manage your headaches.

So that you don't have to remember everything, the headache calendar is a proven method to record everything important. You will develop an understanding of your triggers and your therapy strategies.

The best thing to do is to get the CampusPlus-Headache calendar, print it out and hang it on your refrigerator. Here you can enter all the important information and get a good overview. There are also apps that you can use to document your headaches.