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.
A Couple More Breathing + Moving Examples From China
Some nice examples of moving meditations from qigong:
Lightning bolts. Leap into the air with a big breath, and as you come crashing and stamping down, blow out hard and flick your arms and hands straight downwards, as though throwing lightning bolts into the ground. Ten of these, followed by some stillness, is hard to stay anxious through.
Crane Spreads Wings Stand with your feet together, hands folded across your chest, hunched over. Breathe in and spread your wings not just spreading your arms, but leaning back a little as well, opening way up, chin high, a strong line of tension through the chest and the belly. Close up again. Repeat several times.
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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When Should I Call The Doctor
Most headaches arent dangerous. Rarely, headache pain can be a sign of a serious medical problem. You should seek immediate medical care if you have:
- Stiff neck.
- Sudden, severe headache that gets worse quickly.
- Fever that doesnt go away.
- Headache after concussion .
- Confused thoughts or slurred speech or weakness.
- New onset headache over the age of 50.
- Sudden change in your headache pattern.
- New onset headache in someone with cancer or autoimmune disease.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Almost everyone experiences tension headaches. But that doesnt mean you need to live with the pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be enough to relieve minor symptoms. If you have a headache more days than not, reach out to your provider for guidance. Medication and stress management help many people reduce the impact of tension headaches on their life. Massage, meditation, exercise or talking to someone you trust are just some of your options. The best stress-management therapy is the one that works for your lifestyle and feels right to you.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/04/2021.
What To Do Self
In our privileged lives, we are uniquely smart enough to have invented these stressors and uniquely foolish enough to have let them, too often, dominate our lives. Surely we have the potential to be uniquely wise enough to banish their stressful hold.
Robert M Sapolsky, Why Zebras Dont Get Ulcers, 2004, p. 408
The rest of the article presents many anxiety-fighting ideas. It is not comprehensive, but it has grown generous over the years, like a middle-aged gut. My focus is on relatively creative, efficient, and science-based alternatives to the clichés of stress reduction. Dont get me wrong, there are some clichés here too some kind of breathing exercises are unavoidable but I dont much care for yoga and meditation myself, and I have always been annoyed by the way they tend to dominate the discussion.
It turns out yoga and meditation are not actually the best ways to tackle stress for many people . So here are some of the other options summarized, and most of which are discussed in more detail below:
EVERY COMPANY: Wed like to promote mental health in the workplace.
EMPLOYEES: How about hiring more people so we feel less pressured? And maybe increase our pay a bit so we can keep up with the spiraling cost of living, so were not so stressed out?
EVERY COMPANY: No, not like that. Try yoga.
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Medical Causes Of Anxiety: Anxiety As A Symptom
Anxiety is rarely just about biology or psychology. Except when it is.
We humans are chemistry, and nothing could make this clearer than the chilling story of an old family friend who suffered lifelong anxiety and panic attacks.After of living with this curse, he was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. One of the consequences of this genetic disorder are small tumours on the adrenal glands that cause spikes in adrenalin production. He had one on his adrenal gland. The gland was excised, and he was cured or perhaps set free would be a better description.
Thats an exceptionally rare cause of anxiety, of course. But dont neglect the possibility of a medical explanation or complication. Some of them are much, much more common. In fact, there are at least several insidious or underestimated medical causes of anxiety, which may explain an awful lot of allegedly free floating anxiety and symptoms of anxiety disorder in people who do not seem like a good psychological fit for it.
Chronic pain is extremely common, and can be both a cause and consequence of anxiety sometimes equally, sometimes slanted much more one way than the other, but each always influencing the other to some degree. For many people with both anxiety and pain, solving the pain is the best possible treatment for the anxiety. Others must solve both at once. And a few will find that pain is just one of many ways that they are haunted by anxiety demons.
When You Have A Tension Headache
Hot or cold showers or baths may relieve a headache for some people. You may also want to rest in a quiet room with a cool cloth on your forehead.
Gently massaging your head and neck muscles may provide relief.
If your headaches are due to stress or anxiety, you may want to learn ways to relax.
Over-the-counter pain medicine, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen, may relieve pain. If you are planning to take part in an activity that you know will trigger a headache, taking pain medicine beforehand may help.
Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
Follow your health care provider’s instructions about how to take your medicines. Rebound headaches are headaches that keep coming back. They can occur from overuse of pain medicine. If you take pain medicine more than 3 days a week on a regular basis, you can develop rebound headaches.
Be aware that aspirin and ibuprofen can irritate your stomach. If you take acetaminophen , DO NOT take more than a total of 4,000 mg of regular strength or 3,000 mg of extra strength a day to avoid liver damage.
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The Basics Of Tension
Tension-type headaches are the most common form of headache, occurring in about three-quarters of the general population. They can range from the occasional mild headache to daily disabling headaches in some cases.
Tension-type headaches have been called by various names over the years, including tension headache, muscle contraction headache, psychomyogenic headache, stress headache, ordinary headache, essential headache, idiopathic headache, and psychogenic headache. Of those names, only tension headaches is still fairly frequently used.
As you can see from the names that tension-type headache has been known by, it was at one time thought that the cause of tension-type headache was primarily psychological, caused by the mind or emotions. There have now been studies that strongly suggest a physical cause.
Cbd Dosage To Improve Sleep Quality
CBD is known for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety and mitigate both pain and inflammation.
These factors are important when it comes to maintaining proper sleep quality, but theres also one more benefit you should be aware of. At higher doses, CBD may induce sleepiness, allowing the user to fall asleep faster without experiencing the stream of racing thoughts.
Depending on the frequency and severity of your symptoms, you may need between 25175 mg of CBD daily to combat them.
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How To Tell If Your Headache Is Caused By Anxiety
Tension headaches are often diagnosed in relation to a person’s overall health and lifestyle. Only a medical professional can officially diagnose a tension headache, but there are some questions many ask themselves to begin to identify the cause of a headache.
- Do I have migraines?
- Am I feeling stressed or anxious?
- Do I have any other symptoms of physical illness, like a fever?
Because self-diagnosis is not recommended, a visit to the doctor isn’t a bad idea. This is especially true, as many symptoms of anxiety mimic those of physical health problems .
Can You Stop A Tension Headache Without Medicine
These drug-free methods aren’t quick fixes because you’ll need to learn how to use them. But you may want to consider them for the future.
Biofeedback. This process uses an electronic machine to measure how well your body relaxes. It’s a way to train yourself to ease a tension headache.
Cognitive behavioral therapy. A therapist helps you to spot thoughts and beliefs that cause you stress, which can trigger a headache.
Some people use massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture, too.
“The treatments with the most science behind them are cognitive behavioral therapy and biofeedback,” Green says. “Those are the ones with the highest levels of evidence to support them.”
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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.
How Are Headaches Evaluated And Diagnosed
If you have headaches often or if they are very severe, reach out to your healthcare provider. You can usually start with your family physician, where the diagnosis process will begin. Its important to diagnose headaches correctly so that specific therapy can be started to help you feel better. Your healthcare provider will complete a physical examination, discuss your medical history and talk to you about your headache symptoms. This conversation is part of a headache evaluation. During the headache evaluation, your provider will ask you about your headache history, including:
- A description of your headaches.
- What the headaches feel like.
- How often the headaches happen.
- How long the headaches last each time.
- How much pain the headaches cause you.
- What foods, drinks or events trigger your headaches.
- How much caffeine you drink each day.
- What your stress level are.
- What your sleep habits are like.
- If you have any work issues.
Your headache can be more accurately diagnosed by knowing:
- When the headache started.
- How long you have had the headache.
- Whether there is a single type of headache or multiple types of headaches.
- How often the headache occurs.
- What causes the headache, if known .
- If physical activity aggravates the headache pain.
- What events are associated with the headache.
- Who else in your family has headaches.
- What symptoms, if any, occur between headaches.
Clinical description of headaches
History of headache treatments
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Signs You’re Having A Stress Headache
You’re burning the candle at both ends, working as hard as you can and now this…another headache. You wonder, “Is it a migraine? Am I getting sick or is the tension is just getting to me?” How do you know when you’re having a stress headache? You don’t need an x-ray, lab test or special testing to diagnose a stress headache. Just read the signs.
Stress headaches are the most common kind of headaches adults experience. Millions of people get stress headaches as often as 15 times in a month any more than that and they’re called “chronic” headaches. Most, however, only get stress headaches once-in-a-while. They might last a half hour or less, or they might go on for hours. While there’s no singular cause for stress headaches, they often occur when the body is literally “under stress” like when you’re tired, worried, hungry, over-stimulated, working too hard or just fed up.
You know you’re having a stress headache when:
1. You have no other visual, auditory or other sensory symptoms. Migraine headaches often start with a telltale “aura.” That’s a sign you’re about to have a migraine. Migraine headaches are also often accompanied by nausea.
2. You aren’t oversensitive to light or sound. Bright lights and loud noises may not exactly help your headache, but they don’t make it a lot worse either. Migraine sufferers are usually extremely light and sound sensitive. Stress headaches only cause mild light and sound sensitivity
How To Relieve A Tension Headache
Because tension headaches have various causes, its a good idea to keep a journal and log any instances to try and ID your triggers. If you can determine what sets off the pain , then you can do your best to avoid that particular trigger. That said, the following tips can all help you find eventual relief:
1. Pop some OTC pain medications.
This is a popular approach for quick relief. Aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen can all help reduce tension headache pain, says Medhat Mikhael, M.D., pain management specialist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif.
Always follow dosage instructions, and never take pain medications for more than three days per week regularly, as this can actually cause rebound headacheswhich may feel even worse.
2. Give yourself a massage.
Gently targeting the muscles in your scalp, temples, or bottom of your neck can help relieve the tension that spurred your headache, Dr. Mikhael says.
You can also target your masseter musclethe thick muscle that connects your jawbone and cheekboneif you tend to clench, grind, or generally hold tension in your face. When your jaw becomes too tight, it can cause other nearby muscles in your head and neck to do the same. When the force is too great you can get tension headaches,David Reavy, a Chicago-based physical therapist, previously told Prevention.
Try this 10-second masseter massage from Reavy a few times a day:
3. Add in some peppermint oil, while youre at it.
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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 .
If You Do Just One Thing With Breathing: Slow Down Your Exhalations
It doesnt have to be an exercise: just pausing for an extra beat or two at the end of a handful of breaths is a good start. Literally just hold your breath for a count of 1 or 2 at the end of breaths that are completely normal otherwise.
Breathing regularity and overall slowness is a good start, but extending exhalation is even better for a specific biological reason: exhalation is literally more relaxing than inhalation. That is how we are wired.
Whenever you inhale, you turn on the sympathetic nervous system slightly, minutely speeding up your heart. And when you exhale, the parasympathetic half turns on, activating your vagus nerve in order to slow things down .
Robert M Sapolsky, Why Zebras Dont Get Ulcers, 2004, p. 48.
You could make a simple change to the box breathing method described above: instead of holding after inhalation, you can distribute the breaths around the sides of the box like this: breathe in, breathe out, breathe out, hold it out.
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