Tension headaches is the most common type of headache and is caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck regions. It is usually describe as a feeling of a tight band around the head.

Tension-headaches has several causes, including:

  • Alcohol
  • Eye strain
  • Dry eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Smoking
  • Cold or flu
  • Sinus infection
  • Caffeine
  • Poor posture
  • Emotional stress
  • Cold temperature
  • Long periods of staring at a computer screen
  • Lack of sleep

Tension headaches are divided into two main categories:

  • Episodic Tension Headaches- Episodic tension headaches can last from 30 minutes to a week. Frequent episodic tension headaches occur less than 15 days a month for at least three months. Frequent episodic tension headaches may become chronic.
  • Chronic Tension Headaches- This type of tension headache lasts hours and may be continuous. If your headaches occur 15 or more days a month for at least three months, they’re considered chronic.

Signs and symptoms of a tension headache include:

  • Dull, aching head pain
  • Sensation of tightness or pressure across your forehead or on the sides and back of your head
  • Tenderness on your scalp, neck and shoulder muscles


Tension-headaches are diagnosed based on the symptoms and result of physical exam. To rule out other conditions such as brain tumor that may be causing the symptoms, your doctor may order tests such as CT scans and X-rays to take pictures of your internal organs.



The pain that is caused by tension-headache may cause interferrence in your daily activities if not treated promptly and accordingly.

Treatments that can be used for tension-headaches are:

  • Medications- Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen, aspirin, paracetamol and naproxen are commonly used to give relief. However, using such drugs in the long run and continuously may cause some effects. It’s important to use such products just as what the doctor prescribed. Muscle relaxants and antidepressant drugs may also be prescribed to treat tension headaches.
  • Psychotherapy or Counselling- This is used if your tension headaches are caused by psychological problems.
  • Relaxation Techniques- Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation may help relieves headaches.
  • Alternative Therapy – Acupunture is an alternative treatment for tension headaches. In this method, stress and tension are reduced by applying fine needles to specific areas of your body.



The best way to prevent tension-headache is to avoid the triggers, including:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Finding ways to manage stress
  • Limiting intake of certain foods such as caffeine, alcohol and sugar

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