Feeling the tension?
A tension headache is the most common type of headache, so you may be interested to know what causes it and how you can manage it when you have one.
Tension headache symptoms
A tension headache will affect most of us at some time in our lives. In fact, even children get tension headaches. Nevertheless, the symptoms are much the same in everybody:
Other signs of an approaching migraine can also include:
- pain that feels like a tight, squeezing band all over the head
- pain that is mild to moderate, not severe
- pain that lasts from 30 minutes to several days.
Many people who have tension headaches experience one or two every month. The good news is that pain is usually the only symptom you have to worry about and there are things you can do to help manage it.
Is tension the real cause?
It’s called a tension headache, but is feeling tense really the problem? Well, it seems it does play a role.
Tension headache is thought to be muscle-related. Whilst many different things may trigger a tension headache, some of the most common factors are tension related:
- physical tension in the muscles of the scalp or neck, due to sitting incorrectly
- emotional tension, from anxiety and stress.
Managing tension headaches
A tension headache is not seen as a serious headache, but when you’re having one, you still want to get rid of the pain quickly. Over-the-counter pain relievers have been proven to work in easing tension headache pain.
Understanding what triggers you to have a tension headache can help you avoid situations that may cause a headache. Other things you can try include:
- Changing your sleep habits (try to get more sleep)
- Increasing the amount of exercise you do
- Relaxing and managing stress – massaging the shoulders and neck or having a warm shower or bath can help you to relax.
For more information on headache triggers, read the article Top 10 Headache Triggers.
When to see a doctor
Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice if you are worried about your tension headache, or if you have symptoms such as:
- a headache that is frequent or severe
- a headache that develops quickly
- a headache that doesn’t get better or gets worse
- a headache that is accompanied by other symptoms, such fever, numbness, vomiting, slurred speech, a stiff neck, loss of vision, loss of consciousness
- a headache that appears after you have had an accident, especially if you have hit your head.
For most people with a tension headache it’s an annoying problem that can be easily managed. Finding ways to prevent the causes of your tension headache can help free you from pain and let you get on with living your life.