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.
What Can I Do About My Tension Headaches
If you have tension headaches, your doctor may tell you to use more than just a pain reliever like aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, or ketoprofen. Try not to use pain relievers more than two times a week. If you still have frequent headaches even when using pain relievers, your doctor might suggest other kinds of treatments, such as the following:
Biofeedback and physical therapy. Thesemay help you control your headaches by relaxing the muscles in your neck and head.
Behavioral treatment and relaxation training. These can teach you new ways to deal with stress.
Acupuncture or chiropractic treatments. These may help relieve and reduce the number of headaches you get.
Treating chronic daily headaches can be a challenge for you and your doctor. Chronic daily headaches may improve if you stop overusing pain relievers and start taking medicine to prevent the headaches. This may be hard to do, because your headaches may get worse at first when you cut back on pain relievers.
Some people have withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking pain medicines. They feel nervous or restless, and have nausea, diarrhea, trouble sleeping, and trembling. Tell your doctor if you get these symptoms.
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When Should I Call An Ambulance
Most headaches are not serious. But headaches can also be a sign of a serious illness, such as a stroke or meningitis.
- it comes on suddenly, is very severe, or has made you lose consciousness
- you have suffered a head injury
- you have trouble seeing, walking or speaking
- your arms or legs feel numb
- you have nausea or vomiting
- you have a high fever
- you are sensitive to light and have a new rash
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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.
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.
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How To Prevent An Anxiety Heavy Head And Headache
While you may not entirely prevent headaches from occurring, you can take some steps to help decrease their frequency and severity. These include:
- Recognize Your Triggers: When you get migraines, try and identify what triggers them, including stress, caffeine, alcohol, hormonal changes, insufficient or low-quality sleep, and dehydration.
- Practice Relaxation: Take time off your daily schedule to relax to reduce anxiety symptoms. Some physical exercises can help you relax, especially when you rest and sleep enough. Additionally, you can practice mindfulness exercises such as meditation, guided imagery, and progressive relaxation therapy.
- Practice Self-Care: Anxiety affects your sleep, appetite, and overall health. Therefore, practicing self-care helps reduce many anxiety symptoms, including headaches. For example, get seven to nine hours of restful sleep daily, do regular physical activity, drink enough water, and avoid skipping meals.
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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 .
Chronic Migraine Stress And Your Brain
Frequent or severe stress can change your brainâs functions and structures. These changes will only get worse as the stress continues.
If you have chronic migraines, your brain acts differently than the brains of healthy, migraine-free people. Even between headaches, your brain can be in an overexcited state. Changes in brain structure may result from frequent migraines.
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What Are Some Triggers That May Bring On Tension
You may be more likely to have tension headaches if you have:
- Eye strain, such as from staring at a computer screen for a long time.
- Pain in other parts of your head and neck caused by problems such as temporomandibular disorders.
- Problems sleeping, such as insomnia.
- Stress related to family, work or life challenges, such as starting or losing a job or juggling too many commitments.
How Does A Tension
People experience tension headache symptoms differently. Some people describe tension headache pain as feeling like someone is squeezing both sides of their head together or a band around their head.
You may have pain thats:
- Constant .
- Mild or moderate .
- On both sides of the head.
- Better after you take over-the-counter pain relievers.
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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.
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.
It’s 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 – 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.
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How Are They Diagnosed
A doctor can usually diagnose tension headaches by doing a physical exam and asking questions about how often the headaches happen, what the symptoms are, and about your overall health and lifestyle. In some cases, imaging and other tests may be done to rule out other health problems. But this isn’t common.
The Headache Is Accompanied By Other Signs Of Stress Or Anxiety
When the headache comes along with other signs of stress, its a good indicator that it is tension-related. You might experience irritability, muscle aches, jaw, neck, or back pain, and insomnia. Additionally, you might notice that you have a short temper.
Another sign of stress that might accompany this type of headache is poor concentration. You might struggle to focus on your daily activities because you are too focused on the dull pain.
Plus, you might have trouble sleeping due to an overwhelming amount of stress. It can make it hard for you to wind down at night, making falling asleep and getting rest will be hard. A lack of sleep can lead to even more tension headaches, too.
Even as you have trouble sleeping, you will feel a constant state of fatigue. You will feel constantly tired, making the situation worse and exacerbating the other signs of stress.
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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 Can I Be Sure It Is Not A More Serious Type Of Headache
With tension headaches, you are normally well between headaches, and have no other ongoing symptoms. A doctor diagnoses tension headaches by their description. In addition, there is nothing abnormal to find if a doctor examines you . Tests are not needed unless you have unusual symptoms, or something other than chronic tension headache is suspected. Of particular note, medication-overuse headache should be ruled out as this can often be mistaken for chronic tension headache.
Compared to migraine, a tension headache is usually less severe, and is constant rather than throbbing. Also, migraine attacks usually cause a one-sided headache, and many people with a migraine attack feel sick or are sick . Some people have both migraine attacks and tension headaches at different times. In addition, some people find that one of the types of headaches is followed by another, perhaps because the pain and tiredness due to the first headache cause the second.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Tension Headache
These are common symptoms of a tension headache:
- Slow onset of the headache
- Head usually hurts on both sides
- Pain is dull or feels like a band or vice around the head
- Pain may involve the back part of the head or neck
- Pain is usually mild to moderate, but not severe
The symptoms of tension headaches may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
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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Make Time For Relationships And Personal Growth
Studies show that talking with other people relieves stress. Schedule together time with your partner, and deliberately get off the couch and do something fun. Reach out to your support network, and offer support to others. By increasing personal interaction and prioritizing the things that make you happy, stress will instantly be minimized.
What Exactly Is A Stress Headache
You have likely experienced many different types of headaches which can range from sinus to migraines. So, how can you tell if your headache may be caused by stress? Tension or stress headache symptoms tend to follow a certain pattern.iii
- A stress headache will normally be a mild or moderately painful dull ache.
- Stress headache pain will often feel like a tight band around your head front, sides and back.
- Your scalp, neck and shoulders may also feel sore or tender.
- Stress headaches can be either episodic or chronic .
- Unlike migraines, stress headaches arent typically aggravated by light, sound or physical activity.
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