Friday, November 25, 2022

Can Stress Cause Headaches For Days

Whats The Worst Case Scenario For Tension Headaches

ANXIETY and TENSION HEADACHES – Explained & How You find Relief –

I dont know, I can imagine quite a bit.

Han Solo, Star Wars

Ill start this off with my own example: in the fall of 2017, I had a mild tension headache for several weeks, almost non-stop . It would surge up to moderate severity in the evenings, and there were a few patches that were impressively bad, but it was the grind of constant pain, regardless of severity, that I think really took its toll on me.

And this is a fairly typical example of the most common worst case scenario: not especially crippling in any given moment, but still severe and exhausting. The grind is part of the severity of the pain, which anyone with chronic tension headaches can relate to. Heres what an old friend of mine had to say about it, and he has a lot more experience with that grind:

I find low level chronic pain much worse than infrequent acute pain. It is a weird thing that I can easily shrug off significant pain like getting kicked in the face in martial arts but steady low level stuff like headaches mentally breaks me pretty quickly.

I didnt properly appreciate this until Id felt it. There is nothing mild about mild pain when it just wont let up. Its hard for me to imagine what a whole year of that would be like; a couple months was bad enough. As is so often the case, one must live with a problem to really understand it. More and more, I wonder how I could possibly publish a good website about pain if I didnt also suffer from it. Lucky for me, I do have that experience.21

The Root Of All Evil: Stress

Regular life can feel like running around to put out fires without a cooling-off period in between. Trying to function with a headache on top of it is even more stressful.

The American Migraine Foundation says almost 70 percent of people with migraine are triggered by stress. They recommend making a list of known stressors and making a plan to reduce their impact on your daily life.

Everything You Need To Know About Headaches

Aches and pain in the head can be symptoms of underlying health issues, emotional stress, and hormones.

A person with a headache has discomfort or pain beneath the scalp or forehead, behind the eyes, or arising from the head or upper neck. While headaches may occur occasionally or frequently, they are still the most common nervous system disorder, afflicting half of;the adult population at least once a year, according to the World Health Organization.

The most common cause of headaches is muscle tension. Other common causes of headaches include fever, head injury, viral infections,;sinusitis, and;migraines. Headaches can be the bodys reaction to emotional stress, grief, too much or too little sleep, or;depression. Some people get a headache after physical exertion, crying, eye strain, or sex.

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Treating The Cause: Diary

It may help to keep a diary if you have frequent headaches. Note when, where, and how bad each headache is, and how long each headache lasts. Also note anything that may have caused it. A pattern may emerge and you may find a trigger to avoid. For example, hunger, eye strain, bad posture, stress, anger, etc.

Some doctors suggest reviewing your diet. The list of foods which can be triggers in some people includes caffeinated drinks, chocolate, cheese and alcohol. Other doctors suggest focusing on a healthy balanced diet, with a good mixture of slow-release energy foods and a low intake of refined sugars.

What Feeling Stressed Every Day Does To Your Body

7 Reasons You Get Regular Headaches at Work

You probably think you already know what feeling stressed every day does to your body. Who isn’t stressed these days? The feeling can lead to “brain fog, digestion issues, emotional issues, increased disease rates, and many other things,” according to Dr. Colin Bartoe. “Everybody is stressed out, life is changing, but this will pass at some point in the future, and life will get back to normal,” says Steven Rosenberg, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and behavioral specialist in Philadelphia. Until then, read on to find out more about how stress can wreak havoc on your body and why it’s so important to keep the nerves at bay.;

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Take Medicines As Your Doctor Advises

If you have mild to moderate headaches, your doctor probably will want you to take over-the-counter medicines to stop your headaches. These include medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen . Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

If over-the-counter medicines don’t stop your headaches well enoughor you get a lot of headachesyour doctor may prescribe medicine to prevent headaches.

Don’t take medicine too often. Talk to your doctor if you’re taking medicine more than 3 days a week to stop a headache, or if you have a headache on more than 15 days a month. Taking too much over-the-counter pain medicine can lead to more headaches. These are called rebound headaches.

Other Health Effects Of Stress

When we ask,;can stress cause headaches, we typically look at only the direct correlation between the two. However, since stress impacts other parts of the body, this damage or inflammation can in turn create unhealthier patterns or behaviors, which can again, cause headaches. As all pain doctors know, the body and mind are connected in complex ways. Well look at just a few other ways stress can affect the body and then, most importantly, ways to reduce stress to reduce pain.

Read Also: How To Fight Stress And Anxiety Naturally

Can I Treat A Tension

Absolutely. While medication may be helpful, its not a substitute for coping with stressors that may cause your headaches.

Other tension-type headache treatment options include:

  • Home remedies, like placing a hot or cold compress where it hurts, may help you feel better.
  • Counseling can help you identify whats causing your headaches and learn useful coping methods.
  • Relaxation training includes deep breathing exercises and listening to soothing music. These methods can relax your muscles and relieve pain.
  • Biofeedback uses sensors connected to your body to monitor and then counteract your bodys physical functions. It teaches you ways to manage stress by identifying and then reducing muscle tension. Biofeedback may relieve or prevent headaches.

Prescription Drugs To Prevent Headaches

Headaches, Migraines, and Headband Sensations (How chronic stress and Anxiety can cause these)

Your doctor may recommend that you take a prescription medicine every day to prevent headaches. You may want to take this medicine if:

  • Over-the-counter medicines don’t work to stop your headaches.
  • You’re taking over-the-counter medicines to stop headaches more than 3 times a week.
  • You get a headache more than 15 days a month.

Medicines used to prevent tension headaches include:

  • Antidepressants, such as amitriptyline.

Botulinum toxin type A is sometimes injected into the muscles in the face and head to treat headaches. In the past, doctors thought that spasms caused tension headaches. But BTX-A injections do not seem to help with symptoms of tension headaches.footnote 1 And BTX-A may cause weakness of the facial muscles and may make it hard for you to swallow.

Also Check: How To Stop Stress Breakouts

When To Contact A Medical Professional

  • You are experiencing “the worst headache of your life.”
  • You have speech, vision, or movement problems or loss of balance, especially if you have not had these symptoms with a headache before.
  • The headache starts very suddenly.
  • The headache occurs with repeated vomiting.
  • You have a high fever.

Also, call your provider if:

  • Your headache patterns or pain change.
  • Treatments that once worked are no longer helpful.
  • You have side effects from medicines, including irregular heartbeat, pale or blue skin, extreme sleepiness, persistent cough, depression, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, cramps, dry mouth, or extreme thirst.
  • You are pregnant or could become pregnant. Some medicines should not be taken when pregnant.

Other Types Of Headaches

Doctors have diagnosed hundreds of conditions associated with headaches. Here are just a few:

Medication headaches.;Many drugs number headaches among their side effects. And although it seems paradoxical, many medications used to treat headaches can also cause medication overuse headaches or rebound headaches. Migraine sufferers are particularly vulnerable to a vicious cycle of pain leading to more medication, which triggers more pain. If you have frequent headaches and use medication, OTC or prescription, or both, for more than 10 to 15 days a month, you may have medication overuse headaches. The way to find out is to discontinue or taper your medication but always consult your doctor first. A corticosteroid such as prednisone may help control pain during the withdrawal period.

Sinus headaches.;Acute sinusitis;causes pain over the forehead, around the nose and eyes, over the cheeks, or in the upper teeth. Stooping forward increases the pain. Thick nasal discharge, congestion, and fever pinpoint the problem to the sinuses. When the acute infection resolves, the pain disappears. Sinusitis is not a common cause of chronic or recurrent headaches.

Ice cream headaches.;Some people develop sharp, sudden headache pain when they eat anything cold. The pain is over in less than a minute, even if you keep eating. If you are bothered by ice cream headaches, try eating slowly and warming the cold food at the front of your mouth before you swallow it.

Read Also: How To Treat Stress Anxiety And Depression

Blood Clots And Vascular Disease

Blood clots that form in or near the brain called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST,;can also cause chronic;headaches. These;blood clots can cause increased intracranial pressure;which in turn causes a headache that is constant and gets progressively worse as the pressure in the skull rises.;;

Other vascular diseases such as giant cell arteritis and severe arterial hypertension can also cause chronic headaches. But with vascular disease, the headaches typically get gradually and progressively worse. In some cases, however, people can develop a sudden;excruciating;headache called a thunderclap headache.;;

Living With Tension Headaches

Tension Headaches: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

You may have fewer headachesand less pain when you do get themif you:

  • Find and avoid triggers for your headaches.
  • Keep a headache diary to find out what triggers your headaches.
  • Take over-the-counter drugs to stop a headache.
  • Take medicine as your doctor advises to stop or prevent a headache.
  • Reduce stress with relaxation and positive-thinking methods.

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What Is A Tension Headache

Most headaches are tension headaches. These headaches tend to happen again and again, especially if you are under stress. They are not usually a sign of something serious. But they can be very painful and hard to live with.

Tension headaches can last from 30 minutes to 7 days.

If you have a headache on 15 or more days each month over a 3-month period, you may have chronic tension headaches. This type of headache can lead to stress and depression, which in turn can lead to more headaches.

Tension headaches are very common. Symptoms can start in childhood, but they are more likely to occur during middle age.

Some people have both tension headaches and migraine headaches.

Your Bodys Internal Clock Is Off

Ever wake up for a super early flight and notice a nagging pain in your head? Disrupting your body’s schedule can trigger headaches, Dr. Hutchinson says.

Getting up earlier than usual can throw off your circadian rhythm. “Travel, in general, is a trigger,” she adds. The stress of traveling, change in barometric pressure, change in time zones, and just being at an airport can all trigger a headache.

Fix it: While sometimes its just not possible to maintain the exact same sleep-wake schedule , its important to try to keep as close to your typical routine as possible. This way, youll limit the disruption to your body clock, and in turn, keep headaches away, or at least more infrequent.

Also, stress relief practices are especially important in hectic travel settingslike loud, crowded airportsto keep nagging head pain under control.

Recommended Reading: How Does Stress Contribute To Heart Disease

Make Sure That Your Headaches Arent A Sign Of A Serious Illness

Headaches can be a symptom of stress. Or they may be a sign of a serious physical problem. For example, a headache may be a symptom of a tumor in your brain, or of an infection of your brain or the coverings of your brain. Or of any number of serious health problems.

This means that if you have chronic headaches, the first thing to do is to go see your doctor to make sure that your headaches arent being caused by a physical illness.

You want to be sure to go see your doctor if you have a headache with any of the following qualities:

  • Your headache comes on abruptly and is severe
  • Your headache is accompanied by fever, a stiff neck, confusion, double vision or difficulty in speaking.
  • You have a headache after a head injury.

Your doctor will take a history, do a physical examination and if necessary do blood tests and imaging studies.

If your doctor doesnt find any physical cause for your tension headaches, then you can pretty much assume that they are probably caused by stress and/or anxiety. And then you can treat them accordingly.

You can confirm for yourself that your tension headaches are probably caused by stress and/or anxiety if they have the following qualities:

  • Your headaches tend to occur during periods of feeling stressed/anxious.
  • Your headaches tend to occur along with other symptoms of stress or anxiety.
  • Your headaches tend to come and go depending on your level of anxiety/stress.

Living With Constant Headaches

Anxiety Headaches & Migraines – Symptoms and Relief

For most of us, an occasional headache is nothing more than a temporary speed bump in the course of a busy day. Even so, most men can ease the problem with simple lifestyle measures and nonprescription medications. Relaxation techniques, biofeedback, yoga, and acupuncture may also help. But for some of us, headaches are a big problem. Learn to recognize warning signs that call for prompt medical care. Work with your doctor to develop a program to prevent and treat migraines and other serious headaches. And don’t fall into the trap of overusing medications; for some gents, rebound headaches are the biggest pain of all.

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Types Of Anxiety Headaches

Doctors don’t have a separate name for a stress or anxiety headache. But the most common types of headaches all have a link to anxiety.

Tension headaches. Almost everyone gets one at some point. When you hear people say they have a headache, it’s usually this kind. Typically they’re not too painful.

Tension doesn’t mean stress in this case, but refers to how the headache feels, which may be like a tight band around your head. It can be triggered by anxiety, but it’s not clear why this happens.

Migraines. These are more severe headaches that can cause painful pounding or throbbing. They can last for hours or even days. Besides pain, migraines can also make you vomit and feel sensitive to light and noise. They’re very common in people who have anxiety disorders.

Cluster headaches. They aren’t as common as the other two. They’re very intense and tend to give you a burning or piercing pain, usually behind the eyes.

They’re called cluster headaches because of how they happen. You might get them a few times a day for a few weeks or months, and then they just go away. They may not come back for months or years.

People with cluster headaches are more likely to have anxiety — typically in the months of downtime between bouts of headaches. Doctors aren’t sure how cluster headaches and anxiety are connected or which one causes the other.

What Causes Chronic Tension Headache

This condition tends to develop in people who start off with having tension headaches with increasing frequency, until they occur on most days. However, the cause of the tension headaches is not always clear, and may be more than one thing. They may be due to tension in the muscles at the back of the head and neck, but it is now clear that this is not always the cause. Other causes reported by patients include stress, tiredness, hunger and eye strain. Many chronic tension headaches develop for no apparent reason. Working long hours bent over a computer may trigger them.

Some people get tension headaches if they drink too much caffeine or alcohol, if they don’t drink enough water or if they go for a long time between meals and become tired and hungry. Occasionally, tension headaches can be caused by poor vision, particularly if reading in low light for long periods. Some may be triggered by environmental discomforts such as heat, cold, brightness or wind.

Some research suggests that your genetic make-up may be a factor. This means that some people may inherit a tendency to be more prone to develop tension headaches than others when stressed or anxious.

Note: medication-overuse headache can be similar to chronic tension headache.

Medication-overuse headache is caused by taking painkillers too often for tension headaches or migraine attacks. See the separate leaflet called Medication-overuse Headache .

Recommended Reading: How Do You Reduce Anxiety And Stress

Long Term Treatment To Relieve My Heavy Head

When you are dealing with tension headaches or head pressure, the use of medication should be a last resort. This is because the physical symptom of the headache is the result of your anxiety and there is a root to your anxiety. The use of medication may reduce the feeling of your tension headache but does not solve the real problem. It is also the case that certain medications only exacerbate the problem that already exists instead of relieving it.;

The most important way to begin relieving a heavy head is by reducing your anxiety as well as any other excess stress you may be experiencing on your neck and head. Begin reducing your anxiety by changing aspects of your life. Look into areas of your life that may be causing your anxiety. If you are feeling anxious about relationships, what about your relationship is causing you anxiety? Are you experiencing a great deal of anxiety at work? What about work is causing you to feel that way? Whatever it may be, find a way to make changes to the situation.

Most people experience anxiety at one point or another, but if it is taking over your life then it is time to do some digging and make some changes.

Dont forget, the pressure youre feeling in your head is not the problem, it is just a symptom. If you never fix the problem, the symptom will still remain.

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