A tension headache is a diffusing mild to moderate pain that spreads over the head. In most cases, the pain is not localized and is spread all over the head. It is often described as the feeling that one would get if the skull is caught in a vise. In many instances tension headache may cause pain in the base of the neck, shoulders and upper back too.
Tension type headaches are classified as under:
- Episodic – Headache that occurs for less than 15 days a month
- Chronic – Pain in the head that occurs for more than 15 days in a month for at least six months. .
Even thought the pain is normally moderate, it can get severe at times.
Stress in the muscles around the neck and head was believed to be the most common cause of tension headache. Another theory suggests that teeth clenching causes tension headaches as it leads to contraction of the muscle that allows the jaw to open and close.
Researchers now believe that muscular tension is only the apparent reason and certain abnormalities in the peripheral and central nervous system may also be involved in the real cause of tension headaches. Yet another theory suggests that the brain confuses the signal of muscular tension as pain, which causes tension headache.
The main molecule involved in this confusion of signals is serotonin. As evidence, scientists refer to the fact that the same type of antidepressants that are effective for psychological disorders caused by abnormal serotonin levels are also effective in treating tension headaches.
However, the connection between muscle tension and changes in the nervous system is yet to be firmly established and all suggested theories are based on conjectures and indirect evidence.
There are various triggers that may cause tension type headaches and the most common among them include:
- Stress – usually at the end of the day after putting in hours of hard work.
- Lack of sleep:
- Poor posture.
- Asthenopia or eyestrain from prolonged hours of work.
- Heavy drinking.
- Caffeine withdrawal.
Mild and moderate episodic tension headaches usually respond to over-the-counter analgesics and only chronic or severe headaches require specific treatment with antidepressants and in some case, anticonvulsants.
These drugs have to be used sparingly and should be ingested only when the pain is uncontrollable and the situation unavoidable. This is because most of these drugs are habit forming and may convert episodic and acute tension headaches into a chronic condition.
Stress is not only the cause but the also a consequence of tension headaches. Avoiding triggers and enduring a mild tension headache that does not interfere with your ability to function are the best ways to relieve stress.
Try overcoming worries by adopting a positive attitude towards life. This positive attitude can relieve stress induced by the pain. PureCalm for anxiety – a natural herbal and homeopathic remedy, is also effective at reducing the stress levels that can trigger a tension headache.
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