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.
Can Tension Headaches Be Prevented
Identifying and avoiding headache triggers may prevent a tension headache. Maintaining a regular sleep, exercise, and meal schedule is also helpful. If tension headaches occur regularly or frequently, therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation therapy, or biofeedback may reduce or eliminate headaches. Talk to your healthcare provider about medicines to prevent tension headaches.
Drink Caffeinated Tea Or Coffee
Sipping on beverages that contain caffeine, such as tea or coffee, may provide relief when you are experiencing a headache.
Caffeine improves mood, increases alertness and constricts blood vessels, all of which can have a positive effect on headache symptoms .
It also helps increase the effectiveness of common medications used to treat headaches, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen .
However, caffeine withdrawal has also been shown to cause headaches if a person regularly consumes large amounts of caffeine and suddenly stops.
Therefore, people who get frequent headaches should be mindful of their caffeine intake .
Certain herbs including feverfew and butterbur may reduce headache symptoms.
Feverfew is a flowering plant that has anti-inflammatory properties.
Some studies suggest that taking feverfew supplements in doses of 50150 mg per day may reduce headache frequency. However, other studies have failed to find a benefit .
Butterbur root comes from a perennial shrub native to Germany and, like feverfew, has anti-inflammatory effects.
Several studies have shown that taking butterbur extract in doses of 50150 mg reduces headache symptoms in both adults and children .
Feverfew is generally considered safe if taken in recommended amounts. However, butterbur should be treated with caution, as unpurified forms can cause liver damage, and the effects of its long-term use are unknown (
Foods containing them have been shown to trigger headaches in some people.
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Ways To Manage Tension Headaches
To prevent or to ease tension headaches, Dr. Bang recommends the following:
Dr. Bang points out that the good thing about drug-free treatments is that any side effects go away on their own.
What about rubbing your temples when a tension headaches starts to build does it help? Muscle tension varies, so rubbing on your temples may not bring relief, says Dr. Bang. But rubbing on the tender spots, or trigger points, in your neck and shoulder muscles can help.
If tension headaches dont go away after trying these suggestions, it may be time to look at the psychological stress in your life, he notes.
Suboccipital Release With Tennis Balls
- Tape two tennis balls together or place them in a sock and tie a knot at the end.
- Lay on your back on a firm surface. Place tennis balls at the bottom of your skull as indicated by picture.
- Slowly roll your head side to side to find tight knots. When you feel a muscle knot hold that position for 10-15 seconds until you feel the knot loosen.
- You can work on the muscles for up to 5 minutes, which will help release muscle tension in your suboccipital muscles to reduce headaches.
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What Is A ‘stress’ Headache And How Can You Treat It
It’s the most common type of headache you can getbut the term “stress” headache isn’t entirely accurate.
Right now, stress feels like the new normaland more stress in your life can lead to changes in your health.
Headaches in particular are often brought about by increased stress levels, but while “stress headaches” may be a good description of what’s going on in your body, it’s not an entirely accurate diagnosis. Here’s what you need to know about headaches triggered by stress, and how to help relieve the pain.
The Science Behind Pressure Points And Headaches
Theres not too much science that supports the use of reflexology to treat headaches, and the studies we have are small and need to be expanded. However, there are a few studies that have looked into how massage therapy on the head and shoulders can relieve headaches. This sometimes involves stimulating pressure points on the head.
In one small study from 2002 , scientists investigated how massage might help four adults that were experiencing chronic tension headaches, two to three times per week for six months.
In the study, the massages reduced the number of headaches in each subject within the first week of treatment. By the end of the treatment period, the average number of headaches each subject received fell from almost seven headaches per week to just two per week. The average length of a subjects headache also decreased by half during the treatment period from an average of eight hours to an average of four.
In a much older but slightly larger study, scientists looked at how 10 intense one-hour massage treatments spread over two weeks might affect 21 women experiencing chronic headaches. As in the smaller study, subjects in this study received massages from certified massage practitioners. The effects of the massages were then studied on a more long-term time frame.
Researchers in this study found that those 10 intense massage sessions led to a reduced occurrence, duration, and intensity of headaches.
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Articles On Migraine & Headache Prevention
Everyone experiences stress. Our bodies are designed to feel stress and react to it. It keeps us alert and ready to avoid danger. But, when stress persists, the body begins to break down and illnesses, like headaches and migraines, can occur. The key to coping with stress is identifying stressors in your life, learning ways to reduce stress, and managing stress.
Dull Aching Pain Or Discomfort In The Head Scalp Neck Or Shoulders
Anytime you experience pain, tension, or discomfort in these areas, it could indicate a tension headache. You will likely notice a dull, throbbing pain on the top, sides, or front of your head. Your muscles will become tense and hard, especially in the shoulder and neck area.
When youre experiencing a stress headache, the muscle pain and tenseness will begin before the headache starts. Plus, the tense muscles can continue even after the headache has gone away. e
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Improve Your Posture To Improve Your Alignment
Finally, you need to think about improving your posture. Poor alignment does lead to headaches since it affects the muscles in the neck and back. When you stand up with good posture, youll find that your neck and shoulders relieve some of the tension that you wouldnt likely have realized they hold.
This isnt always easy. You may find that you need to have your spine realigned by a professional, even when you do fix your posture. But start with working on your posture first.
As mentioned, yoga is a good way to do this. Your yoga instructor will explain how you can pull your shoulders back and sit with your head up slightly to look straight forward. When youre standing, you should make sure your shoulders sit back with the spine completely straight.
Sitting is when most people experience poor posture. Too many of us slouch into the chairs, rather than sitting with the back arched naturally. You can get back supports that keep that natural arch there, supporting it, so your muscles in your back dont get tired.
We also have a habit of sitting with our legs cross. You should keep both feet firm on the floor and the shoulders back. Sit with the computer screen at the natural eye level, so you dont have to look down and put tension in your neck.
At the end of the day, roll your neck gently to ease off the muscles. This will help you improve your ability to sleep on a night.
Tips To Relieve Stress & Tension
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Common Causes Of Headaches
The best way to get rid of a headache quickly may depend on whats causing it and what type of headache it is. A primary headache is caused by overactivity or problems with the pain-sensitive structures in your head, according to the Mayo Clinic. Common types of primary headaches include migraine attacks and tension headaches.
A less common type of primary headache is a cluster headache, which comes on suddenly, almost always affects only one side of the head, and is accompanied by a runny nose and tearing eye on the same side of the head as the headache. The pain of a cluster headache is severe and lasts from 15 minutes to 3 hours, when untreated. For most people, cluster headaches occur in a series, or in clusters, lasting weeks or months, separated by remission periods of months or years.
A secondary headache is a symptom of a disease that can trigger pain-sensitive nerves in the head. There are many conditions that can cause a secondary headache, from a sinus infection to a brain aneurysm to hangovers to COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
While a hangover or a headache caused by a sinus infection or by COVID-19 may respond to the same pain-relieving treatments as a tension headache, a brain aneurysm, or other severe headaches associated with neurologic changes such as weakness or loss of consciousness, for example, are medical emergencies that you shouldnt attempt to treat on your own.
Nutrition And Complementary Therapy
Along with medications, there are several other methods that can help relieve mixed tension migraines. Magnesium and vitamin B2 deficiencies have been noted in people with migraines. Increasing your intake of those vitamins may help prevent your migraines.
Eating regularly throughout the day, staying hydrated, and getting regular exercise and enough sleep might also be helpful. Relaxation training, meditation, massage or physical therapy, and moist heat applied to the back of your neck may provide relief.
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Stress Headaches Are Common During Covid
Stress isn’t just a mental thing: It has plenty of physical manifestations, too. “Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, or fight-or-flight response,” explains integrative physician Bindiya Gandhi, M.D. “When you’re stressed your body tenses up, and many people hold stress in their bodies differently: in their gut, their shoulders, and even more commonly, in their jaws.”
About 20% of the adult’s population are thought to clench their jaws and grind their teeth, and that number has likely increased since the start of COVID-19. Research has confirmed that there is definitely a psychological component the behavior, and grinding your teeth while awake is widely considered to be a reaction to stress. Gandhi said that people will often grind their teeth in their sleep during stressful periods, too.
Beyond causing discomfort in the ears, jaw, and face, clenching and grinding can contribute to headaches.
Causes Of Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck regions.
These types of contractions can be caused by a variety of
Some people develop tension headaches after staring at a computer screen for a long time or after driving for long periods. Cold temperatures may also trigger a tension headache.
Other triggers of tension headaches include:
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When To Call A Doctor
Make an appointment if your headaches are frequent or last more than a few days. Get medical help right away if your headache is sudden and severe, happens after a head injury, or is the worst you have ever had. Itâs also important to get urgent care if you get symptoms along with your headache like fever, stiff neck, seizures, numbness, double vision, dizziness, severe nausea, shortness of breath, or confusion.
What Causes A Tension Headache
The exact mechanism that causes a tension headache is not known. Several factors, such as genetics and environment, are thought to be involved. Muscle contractions in the head and neck are considered a major factor in the development of a tension headache. Some people get tension headaches in response to stressful events or hectic days.
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Permanent Tension Headache Relief
Although tension headache is relatively common and not fatal, its bothersome and can widely affect your daily activities. To address the root cause of your pain, start with a no obligation appointment from MVMT Physio & Chiro and speak with a qualified pain expert. Get sound advice as to the right tension headache treatment for you and what you can do to stop it from coming back.
The Headache Begins In The Afternoon Or Evening
If your headaches often begin later in the day or at night, it is a good sign that stress is the cause. As the stresses of your day pile up, a tension headache can set in when it becomes too much.
Finding positive coping methods throughout the day can help release some of the problems later on. You can also try to identify which parts of your day are the most problematic and finding ways to change them.
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Preventing Tension Headaches From Anxiety
To prevent tension headaches, finding ways to reduce anxiety is essential.
Although each persons cause of anxiety is different, there are some general anxiety reduction strategies that could result in preventing headaches altogether. :
- Make sure that you are exercising, eating healthy, and drinking plenty of water. Poor eating habits and inactivity generally lead to more anxiety and thus could contribute to tension headaches.
- Learn anxiety reduction strategies to manage the level of anxiety experienced, as the more anxiety one feels, the more intense a tension headache may be. So, it makes sense that. tension headaches are more easily treated when mild. As soon as you start feeling stressed, start deep breathing or practice a progressive muscle relaxation exercise. These are ways to intervene when the pain is still manageable.
- Always try to get enough sleep. Sleep is essential to mental and physical health and one of life’s main coping strategies. Lack of sleep contributes to increased stress, and further eye strain .
While there are ways to manage anxiety and the associated headaches, meeting with a mental health professional still may be recommended vital to explore and identify the underlying cause of anxiety.
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Keep A Headache Diary
A diary may help you determine what triggers your tension-type headaches. Note when your headaches start, your activities, how long the headaches last and anything that provides relief. The diary may help you spot patterns in your daily habits that contribute to your tension-type headaches.
Look for improvements in your headaches as you make additional healthy lifestyle changes.
This article is written by Mayo Clinic staff. Find more health and medical information on mayoclinic.org.
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Give Acupuncture A Chance
In this form of Chinese medicine, a practitioner places fine needles at certain points in your body. Stimulating these points may release your bodyâs natural painkillers — endorphins — to ease neck, shoulder, and head pain. Some studies show that if you get acupuncture over several months, you may cut the number of tension headaches you get.
Managing And Preventing Headaches
Because the majority of headaches experienced by adults are tension headaches, and these headaches are caused by stress, a great proportion of these headaches can be avoided or at least minimized with effective stress management techniques. Additionally, because stress can make migraine sufferers more susceptible to their migraine triggers, stress relief techniques can help avoid many of these severe headaches as well. And, finally, because stress management techniques can strengthen the immune system , those who practice regular stress management techniques can avoid at least some potential secondary headaches by avoiding the health conditions that cause them.
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How To Cope When One Of Your Migraine Triggers Is Stress
To say that dealing with the chronic pain of migraine is a challenge is an understatement. Those challenges are magnified when stress is one of your migraine triggers. Stress can cause migraine, chronic pain creates more stressand so the cycle continues. And, to add insult to injury, if your body is accustomed to constant stress, a weekend off can result in a let down migraine when your stress abruptly lowers. Not exactly a win-win for those living with migraine.
The migraine brain is vulnerable to change such as sleep and stress, and is, therefore, best kept stable, says Peter Goadsby, M.D., Ph.D., who specializes in the treatment of headache disorders at UC San Francisco Medical Center.
In addition to finding a doctor, keeping a headache diary, and finding the proper medication, one of the most effective things you can do to control migraine is to reduce your stress, which sounds easy, right? Wrong. So, in our busy lives, how can we better manage the stress associated with migraine? Here are a few tips on how to do this.