Yesterday we got to know some common types of headache , and promised we continue from where we ended. So let’s begin with Causes of tension headaches
Tension headaches are caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck regions. A variety of foods, activities, and stressors can cause these types of contractions. Some people develop tension headaches after staring at a computer screen for a long time or after driving for long periods. Cold temperatures may also trigger a tension headache.
Other triggers for tension headaches include:
- eye strain
- dry eyes
- a cold or flu
- a sinus infection
- poor posture
- emotional stress
How to treat a tension headache
Medications and home care
You can take over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, to get rid of a tension headache. However, these should only be used occasionally. According to the Mayo Clinic, using OTC medications too much may lead to “overuse” or ”rebound” headaches. These types of headaches occur when you become so accustomed to a medication that you experience pain when the drugs wear off.
OTC drugs are sometimes not enough to treat recurring tension headaches. In such cases, your doctor may give you a prescription for medication, such as:
If painkillers are not working, your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant, which is a medication that helps stop muscle contractions. Your doctor may also prescribe an antidepressant such as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). SSRIs can stabilize your brain’s levels of serotonin and can help you cope with stress.
Your doctor may also recommend other treatments, such as:
stress management classes to teach you ways to cope with stress and how to relieve tension
biofeedback, which is a relaxation technique that teaches you to manage pain and stress
cognitive behavioral therapy, which is talk therapy that helps you recognize situations that cause you stress, anxiety, and tension
acupuncture, which is an alternative therapy that may reduce stress and tension by applying fine needles to specific areas of your body
Some supplements may also help relieve tension headaches. However, since alternative remedies can interact with conventional medications, you should always discuss these with a doctor first.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the following supplements may help prevent tension headaches:
riboflavin (vitamin B-2)
Other ways to ease a tension headache include:
applying a heating pad or ice pack to your head for five to 10 minutes several times a day
taking a hot bath or shower to relax tense muscles
improving your posture
taking frequent computer breaks to prevent eye strain
Preventing future tension headaches
Since tension headaches are often caused by specific triggers, identifying the factors that cause your headaches is one way to prevent future episodes.
A headache diary will help you determine the cause of your tension headaches. You can keep a record of your daily meals, beverages, and activities, as well as any situations that trigger stress. For each day that you have a tension headache, make a note of it. After several weeks or months, you may be able to make a connection. For example, if your journal shows that headaches occurred on days when you ate a particular food, this food may be your trigger.
Coping with headache
Migraines are tough, but you can learn ways to manage them. From medications, to alternative treatments, to new methods to ease stress and relax, try these tips to keep the pain at bay.
Follow your migraine treatment plan. Don’t take medications your doctor didn’t order.
Relieve emotional stress. Take time to unwind and step away from stressful situations. Learn skills that can calm you, like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
Lower physical stress. Proper rest and sleep will help you relax and face a new day. If you sit for long stretches of time, get up and move around often. Relax your jaw, neck, and shoulders.
Exercise regularly. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.