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Tension Headaches: Symptoms and Causes

Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Tension headache is an unpleasant problem patients often face. As a rule, it does not lead to disability and is not associated with the presence of serious diseases.

Among the main causes of tension headaches are:

  • Frequent stress;
  • Long intervals between meals;
  • Abuse of alcohol, coffee, or any pills.

There are several types of tension headaches, which depend on the frequency of attacks. We will talk about this in detail in our article.

It is also necessary to say that changing your lifestyle is the main way to get rid of a tension headache. Sleep, nutrition, and rest are the main factors in this problem.

In this article, we will look at the main signs and a cause of tension headaches, as well as how to change your lifestyle to eliminate this problem.

 

A Tension-Type Headache (TTH) Overview

Firstly, we need to answer the frequent question, “what is a tension headache?”.  A tension headache usually occurs in people who spend most of their time at the computer or studying and forget the rest. Also, people who receive a lot of stress every day and do not relax after a busy day can face a tension headache. Let’s take a closer look at the causes and symptoms of this condition.

 

Symptoms of Tension Headaches

Symptoms of tension headaches

If you have a tension headache, you can face these symptoms: 

  • Headache on the back of your head, in front of the head or on the side;
  • Headache that is present during the daytime;
  • Sleep disorders;
  • Severe fatigue;
  • Irritability;
  • Loss of concentration;
  • Hypersensitivity to light or noise;
  • Muscle pain.

 

Cause of Tension Headaches

People who experience tension headaches often wonder if stress can cause headaches?” Yes, one of the reasons for the appearance of a tension headache is constant stress and nervous tension, which is often combined with excessive demands on oneself. Other reasons include long intervals between meals, alcohol, cigarettes, and several other things. Let’s take a closer look at why you might experience tension headaches.

Let’s consider in more detail some causes of tension headaches:

  • Insufficient amount of rest;
  • Hustle;
  • Stress;
  • Depression;
  • Anxiety;
  • Fatigue;
  • Large intervals between meals;
  • Low iron content in the body;
  • Excessive alcohol consumption;
  • Abuse of caffeine;
  • Unbalanced diet;
  • Dehydration;
  • Smoking;
  • Cold, flu, or sinusitis.

 

Types of TTH

Doctors distinguish several types of tension headaches. These types of headaches differ in the frequency of attacks. You can read the descriptions of each type yourself and understand which one you have. So, distinguish the following types of headaches:

  • Episodic tension headaches. Such pain does not occur often. If you experience tension headaches less than 15 days a month, you have an episodic type of headache.
  • Chronic tension headaches. You may think you have chronic tension pain if you experience attacks for more than 15 days in a single month or more than three months in a row.

 

Tension-Type Headache and Lifestyle  

Tension type and headache lifestyle

To eliminate the unpleasant symptoms of a stress headache, you must reconsider your lifestyle. It applies to the number of hours you allocate for sleep, its quality, rest, attitude to life situations, and other important aspects of life.

We have prepared for you some essential recommendations regarding lifestyle changes so that you can get rid of your chronic headache.

 

Careful Planning

You need to learn how to be organized and plan your affairs in advance to avoid unpleasant situations associated with deadlines at work or school.

 

Take Breaks

If you need to work or study material for a long time, do not forget to take breaks and give yourself a quality rest at this moment.

 

Find your Hobby

It would help if you had your favorite thing to do in your free time to switch after work and relieve stress. If you have a new attack of stress headache and want to get rid of its symptoms, you can do something you like. It will help you reduce tension and thus relieve pain.

 

Engage in Physical Activity

Scientists have long noted the benefits of physical activity for relieving tension and stress. Give at least half an hour a day to your favorite type of physical activity if you have no contraindications to this. Work especially on the neck, back, and shoulders. Since it is the tension in these places that provokes the appearance of a tension headache.

 

Make Time for Quality Sleep

Ventilate your bedroom before bed and get about 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

 

Work on your Posture

As we have already said, the tension in the shoulders and back affects the appearance of a headache. Connect so that you are relaxed in these places and do not slouch.

 

Drink Enough Water Every Day

Drink several glasses of water, even if you are not very thirsty. Also, enrich your diet with fruits and vegetables that contain natural water.

 

Review your Diet

Your diet must be balanced. If you skip meals, you may experience a headache attack. Also, try to eat at the same time every day. Add fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet.

 

Reduce your Intake of Caffeine and Alcoholic Beverages

It’s another way to eliminate symptoms of a stress headache. Try to drink as few free drinks as possible. Drink as little coffee, tea, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks as possible. It is better to replace it all with clean water.

 

Reduce your Intake of Painkillers

Your goal is not to get used to pills that relieve pain but to eliminate the problem. If you decide to take a headache pill, use the minimum dose written in the instructions. Also, don’t take painkillers more than once or twice a week.

 

Keep a Headache Diary

It is an excellent method to track down the cause of headaches. Record in your diary any changes in your condition that you notice. For example, if your doctor advises measuring your blood pressure daily, enter the readings in a diary. If you have changed your diet, also note your changes in a diary. In this way, you will be able to quickly find out how certain foods, drinks, pills, and other things affect your headache.

If you have a new attack of tension headache, think about and write down the possible causes. Be sure to describe all the events before the onset of the headache. Perhaps you fought with someone, or you did too much work.

Divide your diary pages into multiple columns. Each of them will be responsible for certain details. Let one column contain daily blood pressure readings, the second is mood, the third is well-being, and the fourth is whether you took your pills today. Also, add your daily diet columns to track how your body reacts to certain foods.

Complete the columns with the information you see fit. Keeping such a diary will be useful not only for you but also for your doctor. He can draw certain conclusions from your notes and quickly find the cause of your chronic tension headaches.

 

Bottom line 

Thus, we have considered the symptoms and the cause of tension headaches. Basically, they are associated with fatigue, constant stress, unbalanced nutrition, and insufficient sleep. An important factor in the treatment of tension headaches is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Reconsider your attitude to life situations and find more time for sleep and rest. If your headaches have been going on for a long time and nothing helps you, this is a reason to see a doctor. 

We advise you to contact our clinic. Our highly qualified neurology specialists can help each patient fight against the disease. We use the most modern methods of diagnosing neurological diseases. Among the diseases that we successfully diagnose and treat are:

It is just a short list of diseases that we help our clients cope with. If you or your relative suffers from headaches, make an appointment with us. We will help to exclude the presence of severe diseases and get rid of your problem as soon as possible.

 

FAQs 

  • Can tension headaches be prevented?

Yes, you can prevent tension headaches if you get enough rest, sleep, a balanced diet, and avoid stress. It is also necessary to give up cigarettes, alcohol, junk food, and, if possible, caffeine. If you make lifestyle changes, you may be able to prevent tension headaches or relieve symptoms if you’re experiencing a similar problem.

  • How long does a tension-type headache last?

A tension headache can last from half an hour to several days. During the period of pain, you can take pain killers. However, do not take pills more than twice a week. Your main task is to find the cause of your headache and get rid of your problem.

  • How is a tension-type headache different from a migraine?

A tension headache feels like constant pain and one that can be tolerated. A migraine is a severe headache that comes in pulsations and requires immediate relief in the form of pills or injections.

  • When should I call an ambulance?

You should call an ambulance if, in addition to a headache, you feel severe dizziness, nausea or vomiting, double vision, loss of balance, and severe photosensitivity. In such a situation, it is really important to seek medical help in time, as it can be something more serious than a tension headache.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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