Tension Headaches: What Are They, and How Do I Manage Them?
What is a Tension Headache?
A tension headache is the most common type of headache. The pain is often mild to moderate and is characterized by pressure and tightness around the head. Though the vast majority of people will experience these tension-type headaches in their lifetime, their root causes are not well-known. However, tension headaches can be manageable, through a combination of healthy living habits and utilizing medications appropriately.
Tension headaches are most often divided into two main categories, based on the frequency with which they occur:
Episodic Tension Headache
An episodic tension headache will last from thirty minutes to one week, and will occur for less than 15 days a month, for at least three months. If you experience frequent episodic tension headaches, it is possible they could become chronic tension headaches.
Chronic Tension Headache
Chronic tension headaches are not more severe than episodic tension headaches, but they do occur more often, and may even be continuous. A tension headache is considered chronic when it occurs for more than 15 days in a month for three months.
What are the Symptoms of a Tension Headache?
Tension headaches can produce the sensation of a tight band squeezing the head, creating a dull, aching pain in the temples, on the back of the head, or across the forehead. Some people who suffer from tension headaches also experience tenderness in the scalp, neck, and shoulders.
Though it is not common, a tension headache can also create increased sensitivity to light or sound.
Tension Headache or Migraine?
Though there are plenty of similarities between tension headaches and migraines, there are also some key differences. Nausea, vomiting, and visual disturbances are not symptoms of tension headaches, while they are trademark symptoms of a migraine. Physical activity can aggravate migraines, but will not typically trigger tension headaches.
It is important to remember that if you suffer from frequent episodic tension headaches, you could also have migraines.
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