After a while, you get a headache whenever you stop taking the medicine. Even with treatment, most people still have some headaches. But with treatment, you will probably have them less often. And when you do get them, they probably won't be as bad. The cause of tension headaches is not clear. In the past, doctors believed that tension or spasms of the muscles of the neck, face, jaw, head, or scalp played a role in causing these headaches.
Now they think a change in brain chemistry may also help cause a tension headache. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. They can be brought on—or triggered —by things such as stress, depression , hunger, and muscle strain. Chronic tension headaches often occur along with other health problems such as anxiety or depression. Unlike migraines , tension headaches usually don't occur with nausea, vomiting, or feeling sensitive to both light and noise.
But light or noise could make your headache worse. Tension headaches usually aren't bad enough to keep you from doing your daily activities.
Headache - Wikipedia
Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. If your headache gets better on its own, you won't need treatment. If it gets worse or you get headaches often, you and your doctor will decide what to do next. Watchful waiting and using over-the-counter pain medicines work well if your tension headaches don't keep you from doing the things you want to do.
But if your headaches are disrupting your life, talk to your doctor about other treatments that you could try. Most health professionals can recognize and treat tension headaches. You may seek treatment from any of the following:. If you think that your headaches are caused by depression or anxiety , talk to your doctor. Treating these problems may help reduce how bad your headaches are and how often you get them. It can be hard to know which type of headache you have, because different types can have the same symptoms. But the treatments may be different, so it's important to find out which type you have.
In very rare cases, headaches can be caused by more serious health problems such as brain tumors or aneurysms. But most headaches aren't caused by anything serious, so you probably won't need to have tests. Medicines can help you feel better. But they can also be dangerous, especially if you don't take them the right way. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Your doctor may recommend that you take a prescription medicine every day to prevent headaches.
You may want to try a prescription medicine to prevent a headache if:. Your doctor may have you try one or more medicines, such as an antidepressant or a medicine that prevents seizures. These medicines can help prevent headaches even if you don't have depression or seizures. You may be able to prevent or reduce tension headaches by learning what causes your headaches and trying to avoid those triggers. For more information, see Living With Tension Headaches.
Complete Guide to Headaches
How you think can affect how you feel. So finding ways to relax and stop negative thoughts may help prevent headaches. If you continue to have tension headaches while you are getting treatment, you and your doctor may want to try another treatment.
You may have to try different drugs or doses. If you have already tried several medicines, your doctor may order tests such as an MRI or CT scan to find out if a health problem is causing your headaches. Finding and avoiding the things—or triggers—that lead to tension headaches can reduce how often you get headaches and how bad they are when you do get them.
What Can You Do?
Headache triggers can include:. Using a headache diary What is a PDF document?
You write down when you have a headache and how bad it is, along with details such as what you ate and what you were doing before the headache started. This information can help you avoid things that bring on your headaches. And the diary also can help your doctor plan your treatment. If you have headaches caused by muscle tension in your neck, shoulders, and upper back, pay attention to your posture during your daily activities.
You also can try muscle relaxation and other ways to reduce muscle tension. You can reduce how many headaches you have by finding out what triggers them and avoiding those things. Triggers may include stress, hunger, and lack of sleep. Use a headache diary What is a PDF document? You write down when you have a headache and how bad it is, along with details such as what you ate and what you were doing when the headache started.
A diary also may help your doctor plan your treatment. If you have mild to moderate headaches, your doctor probably will want you to take over-the-counter medicines to stop your headaches. These include medicines like acetaminophen such as Tylenol and ibuprofen such as Advil. If over-the-counter medicines don't stop your headaches well enough—or you get a lot of headaches—your doctor may prescribe medicine to prevent headaches. Don't take medicine too often. Talk to your doctor if you're taking medicine more than 3 days a week to stop a headache, or if you have a headache on more than 15 days a month.
Taking too much over-the-counter pain medicine can lead to more headaches. These are called rebound headaches. My shoulders are always up around my ears. A lot of times, I leave at the end of the day with a big headache. Read more about how Jerry reduced his stress. You can lower your stress with positive thinking and relaxation methods. Research shows that you can change how you think.
And how you think affects how you feel. Try these techniques on your own or with help from a therapist or counselor trained in muscle relaxation, meditation, biofeedback, or cognitive-behavioral therapy. Seek help if you think that your tension headaches may be linked to depression or anxiety. Treating these health problems can reduce how often you get headaches.
Headache Management: Relaxation and Other Alternative Approaches
You might only need to take an over-the-counter medicine for pain. These medicines usually have fewer side effects than prescription drugs. Always be safe with medicines. Try to avoid taking over-the-counter drugs more than 3 times a week, because you may get rebound headaches.
They usually occur after headache medicine has worn off. This leads you to take another dose. You may want to take this medicine if:. Botulinum toxin type A BTX-A is sometimes injected into the muscles in the face and head to treat headaches. In the past, doctors thought that spasms caused tension headaches. But BTX-A injections do not seem to help with symptoms of tension headaches. If you decide to try one or more of these treatments, make sure your doctor knows. He or she may have advice on how to use other treatments safely. Other treatments for headaches include:.
A tension headache is pain or discomfort in your head, scalp, or neck. Tension headache is a common type of headache. It can occur at any age, but it is most common in teens and adults. A tension headache occurs when neck and scalp muscles become tense, or contract.
The muscle contractions can be a response to stress, depression, a head injury, or anxiety. Hot or cold showers or baths may relieve a headache for some people. You may also want to rest in a quiet room with a cool cloth on your forehead. Over-the-counter pain medicine, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen, may relieve pain.
If you are planning to take part in an activity that you know will trigger a headache, taking pain medicine beforehand may help.