Tension headache

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A tension headache is a diffuse, mild to moderate pain that can be felt in the head that can be described as a tight band around the head. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and pain can also be felt in the scalp and neck. In most cases, this can be a reaction to stress, depression, injury and anxiety.


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

Tension headaches can be episodic and chronic. Episodic cases can last from 30 minutes up to a week. It happens less than 15 days a month for three months and it can become chronic. Chronic tension headaches can last for hours and can become continuous.

If the headache occurs with a fever, stiff neck, seizures, mental confusion, double vision, numbness as well as difficulties in speaking and the headache continues to worsen, seek medical help immediately.

Tension headache
Sensation of tightness or pressure felt across the forehead or on the sides and back of the head.


Tension headaches can be caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck area which are due to activities, varieties of foods and stress. Some people have tension headaches after working in front of a computer for long periods of time and driving for a long time. Cold temperature can also cause tension headaches.

Other causes

  • Dry eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Strained eye
  • Caffeine
  • Poor posture
  • Cold, flu and sinus infection
  • Emotional stress

Treatment of tension headache

  • Rest in a dark and quiet room in order to help lessen stress which is one of the causes of headaches. Close the eyes and relax the back, neck and the shoulders. Avoid noises from the television, computers or cell phones. Cover the closed eye with the palm of the hands and apply light pressure for at least 2 minutes in order to help close the optic nerve and relax the body. The head should be in an upright position when pressing the head against the palm.
  • Perform deep breathing exercises in order to help relax and minimize any stress in the head. Close the eyes and take several deep breaths.
  • Avoid stress
  • Apply heat or an ice pack to sore muscles in order to help lessen the headache. Use heat by applying a heating pad in low setting. Another option is using a hot-water bottle, warm compress or a hot towel. Apply a moist hot towel or warm compress at the back of the neck and on the forehead. Take a long hot shower or bath to help with the condition. Just make sure to run the water down the head and on the back of the neck. For cold application, wrap a few ice cubes or simply use an ice pack in a towel and place it on the back of the forehead and the neck. Hot and cold helps lessen the pain and muscle tension in the head and neck.
  • Perform exercises regularly in order to help in releasing any stress or tension in the body such as a 30 minute walk, biking or running at least 3 times every week.





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