What is a Tension Headache?
A tension headache is the most common type of headache experienced by everyone. It is generally characterized as a constant mild to moderate ache on both sides of the head. It is often associated with the tightening of neck muscles and pressure behind the eyes.
Tension headaches can develop at any age, but is more common in teenagers and adults. It isn’t usually too severe, only lasting for some hours. While most people experience episodic headaches, for some it is a chronic condition requiring long-term management.
Almost half the adults in the UK are estimated to experience it at least once or twice a month. Its causes aren’t very well understood, however there are treatment options available to ease your pain.
Common symptoms of a tension headache include;
- Dull head pain
- Pressure around the forehead
- Tendernees arund the forehead and scalp
- Pressure behind the eyes
Tension headaches are usually episodic or chronic.
Episodic tension headaches can last from 30 minutes to several days and may become chornic if recurring too often. Chronic tension headaches on the other hand last for hours and may be continuous. They usually occur for 15 or more days in a month for at least 3 months.
The exact cause for tension headaches is unknown. They are believed to be caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck regions, perhaps as a result of stress or tension.
People who frequently develop tension headaches are believed to have heightened sensitivity to pain and stress.
These headaches are not usually caused due to any underlying condition, they are more commonly experienced by women and middle-aged people. There are various triggers associated with the condition;
- Stress, anxiety
- Prolonged squinting
- Poor posture
- Missing meals
- Lack of physical activity
- Bright sunlight
- Certain smells
If you are experiencing reccurent headaches, you should see a doctor. Your GP may conduct physical and neurological exams along with asking about your medical and family history, to assess the type and cause of your headache.
A diagnosis is made based on the characteristics of the pain felt, it’s intensity and location.
If you are found to have unsual or complicated headaches, your doctor may order further tests to rule out other serious causes of headaches, such as tumour.
Computerized tomography (CT) scan
It uses a series of x-rays to produce detailed cross-sectional images of your brain. These images help the doctor to diagnose conditions such as tumors, infections or brain damage.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
An MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of your brain and blood vessels. It can help doctors diagnose tumors, strokes, brain bleeds or other neurological conditions.
Tension headaches can usually be managed by avoiding its triggers, there is no permanent cure for it.
We at ‘The Online Surgery’ can provide painkillers, such as Paracetamol to relieve the pain. These can be taken for chronic conditions as well.