Tension Headache

What is a Tension Headache?

A tension headache is a type of headache that is common and very different from other types of headaches. It usually feels like a band of pressure around the head or a sensation of tightness. It may cause mild to moderate pain, but usually does not affect alertness or daily activities.

Tension headaches can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 7 days. It can occur once or twice a month or every day. The most common type of tension headache is known as a chronic tension headache. This type of headache recurs over the course of several months or years.

Causes of Tension Headaches

Tension headaches can be caused by a variety of factors. Stress, either physical or psychological, is often a major contributing factor. Poor posture, eye strain, and jaw clenching can also lead to tension headaches. Other potential causes include dehydration, lack of sleep, or withdrawal from certain medications or caffeine.

Treatment of Tension Headaches

Treatment of a tension headache may involve medication, lifestyle changes, relaxation techniques, or a combination of treatments. Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen are often recommended for short-term relief of headache pain.

If pain medication is not effective, your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant or a tricyclic antidepressant such as amitriptyline. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and biofeedback can be useful in managing stress and tension.

Making lifestyle changes can also help reduce the frequency of tension headaches. Improving posture, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, and avoiding caffeine and stressful situations can all help reduce the number and severity of tension headaches.

Home Remedies for Tension Headaches

There are a number of home remedies for tension headaches that can be used for relief. Some of the most common home remedies include:

  • Massage or acupressure - Applying gentle pressure to specific points on the head can relieve tension and pain.
  • Cold and hot packs - Applying cold or hot packs to the head and neck may provide relief from tension headaches.
  • Essential oils - Some essential oils, such as peppermint or lavender, are believed to help reduce tension headaches.
  • Herbal teas - Sipping herbal teas such as chamomile or peppermint can help relax tense muscles and reduce headache pain.