All About Tension Headaches: What Causes Them, What Treats Them & More
Tension headaches, or stress headaches, are one of the most common forms of headaches in adults. 30 to 80 per cent of adults get them in some form or another! The frequency of these headaches can vary from person to person, but if you are having them more than 15 times a month, it is a chronic tension headache, and fewer than 15 times is known as an episodic tension headache. Regardless of frequency, they can be extremely debilitating and distracting to your daily routine.
How Long Do Tension Headaches Last?
Tension headaches vary in frequency but can also vary in length. Sometimes they only last a few minutes, but others have reported headaches that last for days on end. For these people, the pain may get worse or ease up, but it won’t go away completely. This varies from person to person, so it’s important to see a doctor to determine the severity of your tension headache.
Tension Headache Symptoms
The symptoms of a tension headache can be more than just pain in your head. They may also include, but aren’t limited to:
- Irritability and mood changes
- Insomnia and other sleep problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Muscle aches and pains
- Sensitivity to noise or light
How Bad Are Tension Headaches?
The headaches themselves can also vary in intensity. Sometimes they may be localised to the back of your head, affect both sides of your head, feel like your head is being squeezed, or even cause the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and lower jaw to ache. A common misconception is that a headache only affects your head, but we now know that headache pain can often spread to nearby parts of the body.
Treating Tension Headaches
The most common solution that tension headache suffers opt for is reaching for the aspirin. While this can relieve the headache for a while, we don’t recommend it as a regular treatment, as overuse can lead to more severe headaches once they wear off. A non-medical way to relieve your headache quickly is with a hot or cold press. Apply either heat or ice to the areas of your body that are feeling the pain can work wonders. If you are going the heat route, use a warm compress, a hot towel, or even taking a hot shower or bath can help. If you prefer cold relief, the an ice pack or the time-tested bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in cloth can do the trick.
Some doctors may prescribe stronger medication such as muscle relaxants or even antidepressants to relieve the causes and symptoms of your headache. However, drugs aren’t always the solution you need. Some tension headache sufferers may be helped through non-medical means including stress management classes or CBT (talk therapy). By treating the causes of your headache, this may put a stop to the pain entirely.
Preventing Tension Headaches
Just because up to 80% of adults experience tension headaches doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to prevent them. most common way to prevent them is by changing your lifestyle to limit stress and tiredness. Take time out of your day to relax, exercise, and sleep better. Improve your mental state by practising mindfulness and reduce your anger levels. You should also reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake and watch what you eat – your diet can also affect your mental state. Try not to skip meals and drink more water.
If you are experiencing tension headaches that don’t seem to go away, contact us at Premier Spine & Pain Management to schedule an appointment. Our professional team will be able to help you understand your condition better and help put an end to your pain.