How to deal with tension-type headaches
A tension-type headache is the most common type of headache and the one we think of as a normal everyday headache.
It may feel like a constant ache that affects both sides of the head. You may also feel the neck muscles tighten and a feeling of pressure behind the eyes.
A tension headache normally is not severe enough to prevent you doing everyday activities. It usually lasts for 30 minutes to several hours but can persist for several days.
Most people are likely to have experienced a tension headache at some point. They can develop at any age but are more common in teenagers and adults. Women tend to suffer from them more commonly than men.
Some adults experience tension-type headaches more than 15 times a month for at least three months in a row. This is known as having chronic tension-type headaches.
There’s usually no need to see a GP if you only get occasional headaches. But see a doctor if you get headaches several times a week or they’re severe. They’ll ask questions about your headaches, family history, diet and lifestyle to help diagnose the type of headache you have.
You should seek imme-diate medical advice for headaches that:
Come on suddenly and are unlike anything you have had before.
Are accompanied by a very stiff neck, fever, nausea, vomiting and confusion.
Follow an accident, es-pecially if it involved a blow to your head.
Are accompanied by weakness, numbness, slurr-ed speech or confusion.
These symptoms suggest there could be a more se-rious problem, which may require further investigation and emergency treatment.
The exact cause of tension-type headaches is not clear, but certain things have been known to trigger them. These include stress and anxiety, squinting, poor posture,
tiredness, dehydration, missing meals, lack of physical activity, bright sunlight, noise and/or certain smells.
Tension-type headaches are known as primary headaches, which means they’re not caused by an underlying con-dition.
Other primary headaches include cluster headaches and migraines.
Tension-type headaches are not life threatening and are usually relieved by painkillers or lifestyle changes.
Relaxation techniques can often help with stress-related headaches. This may include yoga, massage, exercise and/or applying a cool flannel to your forehead or a warm flannel to the back of your neck.
Painkillers such as pa-racetamol or ibuprofen can be used to help relieve pain. Aspirin may also sometimes be recommended.