Tension headache is the most common form of headache. Tension headaches usually go away by themselves.
Tension headaches can affect people of all ages. The most common thing is that it comes for the first time between the ages of 20 and 40. Children can also be affected. Tension headaches are more common in women. It can be difficult to differentiate between tension headaches and mild migraines because the symptoms are similar.
The term tension headache comes from the earlier thought that all cases of the pain were due to tense muscles around the head and neck. In English, tension headaches are usually called “tension headache”.
Symptoms of tension headaches
Tension headaches usually appear in the form of a dull, grinding headache. It may feel like a pressure over the forehead or head, or that there is a weight on top of the head. The headache is usually felt on both sides of the head. It can spread to the neck, jaws and temple.
Tension headaches rarely come suddenly. Rather, headaches develop slowly during the day before reaching their full strength. However, it is usually easy to moderate. Food conduction and sound and light sensitivity may occur, but it is not as common as those suffering from migraines.
Some develop chronic tension headaches. For chronic tension headaches, the symptoms are experienced more than 15 days a month for over six months. Those who suffer from the chronic variant often have additional symptoms such as scalp pain, neck and jaw muscles as well as fatigue, dizziness, memory difficulties and concentration difficulties.
Causes of tension headaches
The causes of tension headaches are not entirely clear, but some causes are believed to be:
- Increased muscle tension around head, face and neck
- Increased pain sensitivity
- Stress or mental disorders (one theory is that it aggravates the tension headaches you already suffer from)
What can you do yourself?
Below are some good tips for relieving tension headaches.
Stress and poor sleep are a common cause of tension headaches. If headaches often show up during stressful and anxious periods, it may be a sign that the body is performing poorly. Often it is about taking care of oneself better and, for example, prioritizing leisure and rest to a greater extent to get more balance in life.
Keep a headache diary
A headache diary is a way of finding triggering factors for your stress headache yourself. It can be a good way to compare the outbreaks of headaches with how you slept, what you ate and drank and how much you stressed. Keeping a diary for a period of time can be a great way to learn how to prevent tension headaches. The headache diary can also be of value if you seek care.
Relaxation exercises and other types of anti-stress exercises have been shown to have an effect on tension headaches. The purpose of relaxation training is to reduce the experience of stress and headaches.
It is unusual for exercise to aggravate tension headaches. On the contrary, exercise can be a factor that reduces tension and headaches. However, it can be important to adjust the level of training if you feel that you are not feeling well. For example, easier exercise such as a walk or stretching may be sufficient.
When you work, you usually spend a long time in one or a few specific work positions. Harmful postures can cause muscles to become pinched with pain as a result. Check if you have a healthy posture while working. There are also ergonomists who work, among other things, to teach good postures in, for example, office work.
Check the sight
Some cases of tension headaches may be due to having a visual impairment you do not know about. If you have impaired vision and do nothing about it, you often walk around and squint and strain your eyes. Tension can be a contributing cause of tension headaches. It may be good to go to an optician and make sure you don’t need glasses.
Treatment of tension headaches
Prescription-free medicines for headaches can be a temporary relief when you have tension headaches. However, it is good to remember that many medicines for headaches can start to cause headaches if used too generously. You should not use them more than two to three times a week.
When seeking care for their tension headaches, the muscles around the neck and nearby areas were often examined to identify if it could be a cause of the pain. You may need to answer various questions about your headache, such as timing, character, duration and intensity.
When should you seek care?
Most cases of tension headaches and other headaches do not require the need to seek care. However, prolonged or severe headache may be a sign that it may be needed. Seek care at a health care center if you have a headache:
- That interferes with everyday life
- Which has come daily for more than a week
- As previously existed but now changed character
- That means you need to use drugs several times each week
- That increases in scope and strength over time
- Which is similar to tension headaches for the first time, and you are over 50 years old
- Which is surrounded by other symptoms that are not typical of tension headaches
Seek care directly at a health center or on-call clinic for any of these issues:
- Headache and drowsiness after a blow to the head
- Sudden, intense headache
- Headache and stiffness in the neck in case of fever