Recognizing and Treating a Tension Headache
By Jared Winston
A tension headache is by far the most common form of headache that people experience in every day life. However, in many cases, tension headaches may be confused with other types of headaches that may be more serious. Conversely, these more serious forms of headaches, which may require treatment from a physician, may be mistaken as a simple tension headache and thus go untreated for long periods of time. For this reason, you should know the causes, symptoms, and treatments of these headaches if you are experiencing pain, so you will be able to recognize them yourself.
A tension headache is essentially, just as its name implies, a headache that is caused by tensing of the muscles, most often in the neck or the scalp. When these muscles contract, it can cause pain that ranges from mild, dull aches, to more severe pain, often accompanied by a feeling of tightness or pressure on the head, as though it were being squeezed by an invisible pair of hands. The pain is usually general, and dispersed over the head and neck, unlike other types where the pain is often felt most acutely in a specific area.
Unlike many other types of headaches, tension headaches tend to build up slowly over time. The pain will at first be mild, or simply a feeling of tightness, and may increase until the pain has become quite severe. This is in contrast to other forms of headaches, most specifically cluster headaches that are known to begin and build up in a matter of minutes, and end just as quickly.
Tension headaches are somewhat similar to migraines in that they can be made worse by the presence of certain factors. These include bright lights and sounds, and other similar environmental stresses. This, however, may affect the headache for other reasons than they affect migraine headaches. For instance, they may be increasing the stresses that are causing the headache in the first place.
A tension headache can be caused by a wide variety of different things. In short, anything that causes stress in your life may be a contributing factor to a tension headache, which is why they often set in during times of heightened stress levels. However, other factors may be at work, such as strain to the eyes or environmental factors such as temperature. They can also be caused by abnormal pressures on parts of the body, such as sleeping in a certain position, or even poor posture.
In most cases, a tension headache is mild enough that it can be treated with over the counter pain medication to take care of the headache itself. If possible, you may want to remove the causes of the headache as well, by relaxing more often or correcting poor posture. If you cannot pin point what is causing your headaches, you may want to write down when your headaches begin, to help you find a common link between them. If you experience a tension headache consistently, or your headaches become very severe, you should consult a physician, to be sure there is not a more serious problem.
Copyright © Jared Winston, 2006. All Rights Reserved.
About the Author
If you suffer from tension headaches or any other of the many types then chances are you are seeking headache pain relief. At Conquering Headaches we discuss the various types of headaches as well as recommend possible solutions.
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