Have you ever experienced a headache when in stressed condition? Almost everyone has a headache at some time when stressed, overworked, anxious, or subject to prolonged muscular strain. It’s the most widespread headache disorder. The prevalence of tension-type headache ranges in the general population from 30% to 78%. It means 3 out of 4 people in this earth experience it. So it’s not an uncommon thing if you experience it. It’s more common in women.
A recent WHO report states that ‘onset is often in teenage years and peaks in fourth decade then declines’ and ‘60% of those with tension-type headache experience reductions in social activities and work capacity’. In the Covid-19 era tension headache has become a new epidemic.
What causes tension headache
The exact cause of a tension headache is not known. Several factors, such as genetics and environment, are thought to be involved. Some people have less adaptation to stress. Muscle contractions in the head and neck are thought to be a major factor in getting a tension headache. Some people get tension headaches from stressful events or hectic days.
What are the symptoms
- Slow start of the headache
- Headache on both sides
- Pain is dull or feels like as if a band is there around the head.
- Pain may be there at back part of the head or neck
- Some people feel as if a heavy object kept on their head.
- Dizziness and abnormal feeling. Sometimes associated with heaviness of head.
- Neck movements (active or passive) restriction.
- Sometimes sleeplessness
- Nausea and indigestion
- Depression and anxiety (common) and irritability.
What Triggers Tension headache
Tension-type headaches, despite the name, are not necessarily caused by tension or stress. Some think, I don’t feel stressed, then I can’t have tension headache.
- Poor posture.
- Bright lights, prolonged reading, loud noise.
- Excessive muscle contraction such as frowning or jaw-clenching
- Stress, anxiety, fatigue, emotional upsets, depression.
Treatment and prevention
Depending on symptoms and precipitating factors, treatment and prevention can include
- Taking time away from stress – relaxation
- Breaks from continuous work
- Maintain a good posture.
- Good sleep by maintaining Sleep hygiene
- Going to sleep and waking at the same time each day and resting in a quiet, dark place as needed.
- Regular exercise: Exercising regularly each day for at least 30 minutes
- Regular Meditation.
- Eating regular meals at right time without skipping any, especially breakfast.
- Staying away from headache triggers, such as certain foods, flashing of light, sound etc.
But sometimes lifestyle modification feats don’t decrease the headache or having severe headache, or weakness of muscles or having fever, vomiting, vision loss, sudden severe headache, prolonged headache etc, then a detailed evaluation is needed by a neurologist. Sometimes some people have tension headache more than 15 days a month. They need prolonged treatment. There are many medicines for tension headache. Tension headache can be cured with proper diagnosis and treatment.
Some common questions about tension headache
-Are tension headaches dangerous: prolonged headache cause problems in daily living.
Are tension headaches caused by stress: yes
Are tension headaches painful: Yes
Are tension headaches bilateral: yes
Can tension headaches be cured: yes, with proper medication
Can tension headache cause ear pain: yes sometimes
Can tension headaches occur daily: yes
Can tension headache cause dizziness: yes
Can tension headache cause eye pain: yes
Do tension headaches cause nausea: may cause.
Please read and share.
1: Holm JE, Holroyd KA, Hursey KG, Penzien DB. The role of stress in recurrent tension headache. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. 1986 Apr;26(4):160-7.
2: Diehr P, Wood RW, Barr V, Wolcott B, Slay L, Tompkins RK. Acute headaches: presenting symptoms and diagnostic rules to identify patients with tension and migraine headache. Journal of chronic diseases. 1981 Jan 1;34(4):147-58.