Headache is a condition so common it’s the punch line for a number of jokes, but when you’re experiencing a headache, it’s no laughing matter. Why do people develop headache? What can be done to make the headache better? And, can anything be done to prevent the headache in the first place?
When most people discuss headache, they’re typically referring to the most frequently experienced type of headache, a tension headache (also known as tension-type headache). Almost 50% of adults experienced a headache in the past year; fortunately, for the majority of those individuals, the headache was mild, short-lived, and likely fell into the category of tension headache.
A tension headache is the most common type of headache. This type of headache can cause mild or moderate pain in the head, neck, and behind the eyes. Some patients say that a tension headache feels like a tight band around their foreheads.
Tension headache isn’t limited to adults. Children and teens can experience tension headache as well, with as many as 15% of children having experienced tension headache by age 15. Females are diagnosed with about twice the number of tension headaches as males.
There is no single cause for tension headaches. This type of headache is not an inherited trait that runs in families. In some people, tightened muscles in the back of the neck and scalp cause tension headaches. This muscle tension may be caused by:
• Inadequate rest
• Poor posture
• Emotional or mental tension, including depression
In others, tightened muscles are not part of tension headaches, and the cause is unknown.
Tension headaches are usually triggered by some type of environmental or internal tension. The most common sources of tension include family, social relationships, friends, work, and school. Examples of tensionors include:
• Having problems at home/difficult family life
• Having a new child
• Having no close friends
• Returning to school or training; preparing for tests or exams
• Going on a vacation
• Starting a new job
• Losing a job
• Being overweight
• Deadlines at work
• Competing in sports or other activities
• Being a perfectionist
• Not getting enough sleep
• Being over-extended (involved in too many activities/organisations)
Episodic tension headaches are usually triggered by an isolated tensionful situation or a build-up of tension. Daily tension can lead to chronic tension headaches.
Medical doctors generally treat tension headache symptoms with medications, such as beta-blockers, antidepressants, anti-seizure medications and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Regularly taking some of the most popular painkillers on the market [paracetamol, aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen six or seven days per week over a two-year period] is linked to a much greater risk of stroke and heart attack from higher blood pressure, according to research from a large American study.
Powerful drugs can numb your nervous system so the pain doesn’t register. While these approaches may be convenient, they can cause adverse effects and kidney or liver damage. Worse, they don’t correct the underlying cause of the headache.
Tension is a fact of life in our high-speed modern world. Here are several simple techniques to relieve a tension headache.
A Tension headache can be downright debilitating. Take note of the following natural remedies to help avoid that next attack.