Headaches are definitely a pain that everyone can relate to. Today we’re going to talk about the most relatable headache: the tension headache. While many other people also experience migraines or other types of headaches, the tension headache is the most common one. Going over some of the causes, characteristics and remedies can be a good reminder for the next time a tension headache begins, or to help minimize getting them in the first place. First, being able to tell the difference between what type of headache you are experiencing will help you respond appropriately.
Different Types of Headaches
Tension headaches are the most commonly occurring headaches. It can last for half an hour or even be ongoing in varying degrees of intensity for days. These headaches typically begin subtly, and can build to stronger pain at the front or side of the head, behind the eyes and in your neck.
Migraines tend to be stronger than tension headaches and have a pounding sensation in the head. Those who experience severe migraines could experience light sensitivity, nausea, dizziness, and temperature sensitivity.
Cluster headaches are more rare, and are characterized by short, intense pain that lasts for half an hour to two hours. These headaches are felt more on one side of the head than the other, and will
Of course, you may experience a variety of headaches, including ones that are not mentioned in this article, but today we’ll focus on tension headaches as it is the most common one. Different studies have offered few ideas as to the cause of tension headaches. The classic explanation was that muscle constrictions in the head and neck caused tension headaches. More recent research points to a correlation between tension headaches and people who are sensitive or prone to stress or pain. There are also more reports from women who experience tension headaches than men, though it is common in both genders.
Since tension headaches affect so many people, and can be harder to notice as it is building, let’s make sure we are aware of what possible factors may contribute to tension headaches and how we can minimize the frequency and duration if we do get them.
Tension Headache Triggers
Long session at a computer
Dry or tired eyes
Smoking or alcohol
How to Minimize Tension Headaches
Know that there are other treatments besides over-the-counter medications like Advil, which should be used as sparingly as possible. Ask your doctor about prescription medications such as Naproxen and Acetaminophen for treatment, especially if you suffer from chronic tension headaches (you experience tension headaches up to 15 days a month or more). Ask also about options that may be specific to you and that may help address the triggers that are causing your tension headaches. Whatever physical, emotional, lifestyle or environmental reasons are leading to your tension headaches, there is something you can do about it.
Learn to better manage stress by trying yoga or cognitive behavioral therapy with a registered counselor. A counselor can help you manage your expectations, boundaries, coping mechanisms and relationship with yourself and others to decrease the amount of stress in your life.
Create or look into an affordable standing desk to ensure you are not sitting for long periods of time in a curved posture.
Use your calendar to track the frequency, duration and intensity of your headaches so that you can provide your doctor with specific information and be aware of patterns and associations.
Use a heat or cold pack on your neck or temples to ease the intensity or discomfort of the headache.
Ask your doctor about riboflavin, magnesium or other supplements that may be beneficial.
Talk to a doctor, nutritionist or appropriate healthcare professional about what dietary changes may be affecting your headaches.
If you experience tension headaches regularly, it may be harder to notice unless it’s progressed to being particularly painful. We encourage you to remember that tension headaches may not have to be part of your norm, and that there are steps you can take towards healthier and headache-free everyday living.