What Is Chronic Tension Headache And Who Is Affected By It
Chronic tension headache is a condition where you have a tension headache on at least 15 days every month for at least three months.This can be tiring and depressing. Tension headache is the common type of headache that most people have at some time.
Itâs not known exactly how common chronic tension headache is, as few studies have looked at this clearly. Some studies have estimated that around 1 in 30 of all adults have chronic tension headaches â which means they have a headache on more than half of all days for three months or more. However, it is possible that a proportion of these patients actually have developed medication-overuse headaches as a result of their tension headaches. Therefore, it can be difficult to be certain which is their main problem.
Chronic means persistent it does not mean severe. The severity of the headaches can vary from mild to severe. Because of the persistent nature of the headaches, however, this condition is often quite disabling and distressing, and most patients take preventative medication.
How Can Stress Cause Headaches
Everyday stress can bring on headaches in a variety of ways. Thats because stress causes us to change our behavior without even realizing it.iv
You may still experience the occasional tension headache, but practicing the above techniques should help reduce their frequency and severity. Looking for a quick and effective way to get rid of a stress headache? Try an over-the-counter headache relief medication like Excedrin.You may still experience the occasional tension headache, but practicing the above techniques should help reduce their frequency and severity. Looking for a quick and effective way to get rid of a stress headache? Try an over-the-counter headache relief medication like Excedrin.
And while relaxation therapies and simply cutting down on the stress in your life can help to reduce the occurrence of tension headaches, chronic tension headaches may be indicative of a more serious issue. Consult a doctor to discuss and learn more about your headaches.
Outlook For People With Tension Headaches
Tension headaches often respond to treatment and rarely cause any permanent neurological damage. Still, chronic tension headaches can affect your quality of life.
These headaches can make it difficult for you to participate in physical activities. You may also miss days of work or school. If it becomes a serious problem, talk to your healthcare provider.
Its important to not ignore severe symptoms. Seek medical attention immediately if you have a headache that starts suddenly or a headache accompanied by:
- slurred speech
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How To Get Rid Of A Tension Headache: Prevention And Treatment
The goal in treating tension headaches is to eliminate the symptoms immediately and to prevent headaches from occurring again in the future. Tension headaches are never a fun experience, but luckily, there are some easy lifestyle changes and simple treatments you can use to reduce pain and limit future episodes.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Tension Headache
People can have tension headaches once, daily, or off-and-on regularlyand the pain can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a week. This pain often stems from muscle tightness and typically feels like a band is squeezing your head. Symptoms vary, but may also include:
- A dull ache that causes pressure
- All-over tension, pressure, or aching
- Pain thats worse in the scalp, temples, back of the neck, or shoulders
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Am I At Risk For Chronic Daily Headache
Anyone who has recurrent acute headaches and who uses short-acting medication or techniques to treat them is at risk of developing chronic daily headache, which is characterized by headache symptoms 15 or more days of the month over three months, notes an article published in February 2020 in Global Advances in Health and Medicine on Integrative EastWest Medicine Intervention for Chronic Daily Headache.
The two most common types of chronic daily headache are chronic migraine and chronic tension-type headache, although the two types often overlap. In other words, people diagnosed with chronic migraine often also have symptoms of chronic tension-type headache, and vice versa.
Individuals with chronic daily headache often also have a diagnosis of medication-overuse headache.
If your head pain or other symptoms cause you to frequently take short-acting medication, talk to your doctor about being referred to a headache specialist, who should be able to identify medical treatments as well as lifestyle or behavioral changes that can help to relieve your symptoms while also reducing your reliance on acute medications.
Concussions And Other Head Injuries
If youve recently experienced a concussion or similar head injury, you could be dealing with an ongoing headache. This is called post-concussion syndrome, and its a mild injury to your brain caused by the initial trauma. It can last for months after a concussion possibly up to a year.
Symptoms of post-concussion syndrome include:
- recurrent or ongoing headaches
A variety of treatment options, including home treatments and medical care, can help relieve symptoms of a prolonged headache.
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Tips To Relieve Stress & Tension
Q What Is A Tension Headache
A. People describe tension headaches as an aching pain that affects both sides of the head. They can last 30 minutes or linger for a few days. Typically, pain is the main symptom. Common migraine symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or light sensitivity arent usually factors for a tension headache.
The biggest trigger for tension headaches, and probably the reason they are so common, is stress, says Dr. Estemalik. In most cases, lifestyle tweaks that reduce stress are enough to keep tension headaches at bay.
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Q: Can Tension Headaches Be Prevented
A: Yes! Because of their strong link to stress, take thesesteps to prevent or minimize the severity of tension headaches:
- Drink water: Dehydration can increase headache severity, so drink eight glasses of water each day.
- Exercise: Physical activity produces brain chemicals that are natural painkillers. Exercise also leads to improved sleep.
- Gentle stretches: Yoga and tai chi both blend relaxation, breathing and stretching to reduce stress levels.
- Good sleep hygiene: Improve your sleep by minimizing daytime naps, avoiding caffeine or alcohol close to bedtime, getting exercise and avoiding electronic devices before bed.
- Massage: Whether you prefer a light touch or deep-tissue work, massage helps relieve built-up muscle tension in the shoulders, neck and scalp.
- Mindfulness: Using your breath as a guide to keep your thoughts in the present can help reduce overall stress and pain.
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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Rule Out Other Conditions
First things first, are you absolutely 100% sure your headaches are caused by stress? Tension or stress headaches tend to cause neck and shoulder aches, as well as a feeling of pressure across the forehead, or down the sides and back of the head.
They can focus on one particular area, or feel more like a dull aching pain all over. Unlikely migraines, they dont typically cause changes to vision, nausea, or other symptoms.
If your eyesight has changed, the first thing to do is rule out problems with your vision. Get your eyes tests, and see if a trendy pair of Ted Baker glasses could solve the problem.
If you have other symptoms or your headaches are getting worse, consider a visit to your doctor to rule out other conditions.
How To Get Rid Of An Extremely Bad Headache
This article was medically reviewed by Eric Baron, DO. Dr. Eric P. Baron is a staff ABPN board certified Neurologist and a UCNS Diplomat board certified in Headache Medicine at Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute, Center for Neurological Restoration Headache and Chronic Pain Medicine, in Cleveland, Ohio. With over 15 years of experience practicing medicine, he specializes in helping patients with headaches, migraines, and facial pain. Dr. Baron holds a BS in Biology from the University of Toledo and a DO from The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. Following his medical education, he completed his neurology residency and fellowship in headache medicine at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Baron has authored publications in journals such as The Journal of Headache and Pain and was named one of Americas Top Physicians.”There are 19 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 233,348 times.
Headaches are a condition that everyone can experience. They can have a variety of triggers including noise, dehydration, stress, certain foods or skipped meals, and even sex.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source If you are suffering from an extremely bad headache, you may want to try relieving it at home or seeing your doctor if it is keeping you from performing your normal activities.
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Soothe Pain With A Cold Compress
Using a cold compress may help reduce your headache symptoms.
Applying cold or frozen compresses to the neck or head area decreases inflammation, slows nerve conduction and constricts blood vessels, all of which help reduce headache pain .
In one study in 28 women, applying a cold gel pack to the head significantly reduced migraine pain .
To make a cold compress, fill a waterproof bag with ice and wrap it in a soft towel. Apply the compress to the back of the neck, head or temples for headache relief.
Coenzyme Q10 is a substance produced naturally by the body that helps turn food into energy and functions as a powerful antioxidant .
Studies have shown that taking CoQ10 supplements may be an effective and natural way to treat headaches.
For example, one study in 80 people demonstrated that taking 100 mg of CoQ10 supplements per day reduced migraine frequency, severity and length .
Another study including 42 people who experienced frequent migraines found that three 100-mg doses of CoQ10 throughout the day helped decrease migraine frequency and migraine-related symptoms like nausea (
Diy Strength Training Exercises
Experimenting with strength training or changing lifestyle factors that cause stress and tight muscles can help patients limit the amount of medications they need to stop their pain. Strength training can:
- Loosen tense muscles
- Increase muscle strength
- Improve blood flow
Results should take about a month to become apparent. Researchers said patients not experiencing any benefit after four weeks probably arent good candidates for the treatment. To improve core strength yourself, you can try these exercises to prevent future tension headache episodes.
A good overall core building exercise that improves posture is plank pose, which resembles the top of a push-up. Support the body firmly with wrists under the shoulders, fingers spread wide, and weight evenly distributed throughout the hand, careful to avoid dumping weight into the wrists. Toes are tucked under and the body slants down in one straight, long line, with the abdomen and upper back muscles engaged. Hold for 30 seconds before resting for a few seconds. Repeat three times.
Resistance band workouts
Danish researchers have found that strength training with resistance bands is also helpful for reducing tension headaches. Just two minutes a day was found to provide a benefit after about a month of training, reportsScienceNordic. Slightly better results were found for patients exercising with the bands 12 minutes each day.
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Peppermint And Pain Killers
One of the most effective options is Peppermint oil. When a 10% peppermint oil mix is applied to the forehead, it can lead to instant relief of symptoms. Studies have now validated that the results are comparable to pain killers.
However, caution must be maintained and ensure that the oil does not enter the eyes.
Getting Immediate Relief For Your Tension Headaches
You can often feel a tension headache starting to build up in your head. You can feel the first signs of tension building up in the muscles of your head. When you sense that first sign of tension, slow down and stop whatever it is you are doing for a moment. Pay attention to the tension and accept it. This in and of itself may short circuit and stop the tension.
Other things that might help stop the buildup of tension are:
- Take a walk
- Take a moment and slow down whatever it is you are doing.
- Take some deep breaths to release your tension.
- Massage the muscles in your head and neck to release the tension. This can be very effective.
If none of these measures work, you might want to take an over the counter pain killer that you know and that works well for you. Experiment with your medication, and figure out the smallest does that will stop your headache effectively.
But the most important thing to do is to take measure that will help you prevent the occurrence of tension headaches in the future.
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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.
Fix Your Sleep Schedule
Next on our how to get rid of headaches list is the effective method of fixing the sleep schedule. Not getting enough sleep can also be the reason behind your headaches. Sleep is an extremely essential activity for our body but most of us tend to ignore it owing to our busy schedules. It has been found that lack of sleep can lead to migraines. Sleep deprivation releases certain chemicals in our bodies that cause headaches.
On the other hand, sleeping too much is also not good for us. Sleeping too much has also been found to be the cause of migraines and other kinds of headaches as well. People with frequent headaches are therefore advised to stick to a proper regular sleep schedule.
To make sure your sleep doesnt get disturbed, try to sleep in a dark room that is quiet and cool. Avoiding too much caffeine and alcohol can also help with your sleep cycle thereby decreasing your chances of getting the common headache symptoms.
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How To Seek Stress Headache Relief
The action plan to seek relief from stress headache consists of
- Lowering stress levels
- Eating healthy food at regular intervals
- Quit smoking
Is this difficult to achieve?
You may need to make efforts to change your lifestyle, but it will all be for your good. Most importantly, take care of your stress levels and body posture.
Remember one thing when you try to lower your stress levels that if you cant change the stressful situation change your reaction towards it.
This will help you maintain your composure. You also need to achieve mind-control so that you dont raise your stress and anxiety level, and eventually not have stress headache.
A good posture puts minimal strain on your ligaments, muscles, tendons, and bones. So, they dont get tensed up.
However, poor posture puts continual strain on your shoulders, neck, and upper back. This causes the muscle fibers to tear.
As a result you feel tightness in those areas and the flow of blood to the back of your head is restricted, besides causing some nerve ending irritation too.
Dont worry you do have an army of stress headache relief techniques that can really help you normalize the muscles, nerves, and achieve mental balance.
Heres a short video that shows some exercises that you can do on your own to seek relief from stress headache, whenever you take a break from your work.
Dr. Kevin McDougal ~ Get Rid of Computer Neck Headaches and Shoulder Pain ~ You Tube Video