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What Causes Tension Headaches?

Tension headaches are the normal sort of headaches that people experience on a regular basis. They generally consist of an aching that can be felt throughout the head and often behind the eyes. Tightness and strain in the neck muscles is also a common symptom.

Causes of tension headaches

Causes of Tension

There are many causes of tension headaches, many of which people are often unaware of as a factor in their pain. They are generally not serious issues and are often a result of lack of care or attention, including:

  • Hunger
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Overexertion
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Dehydration

How to Prevent Tension Headaches

If people experience frequent tension headaches then there are certain precautions that can be taken to prevent them from recurring.

  • Keep a diary to try and pin point the triggers, such as food, drink, lack of sleep, or other stress triggers.
  • Regular exercise, particularly in the fresh air, has also been shown to help ward off headaches. This might be to do with not being in enclosed, stuffy and overly warm environments.
  • Stay hydrated. Lack of fluids is one of the most common causes of tension headaches as it is the body's response to dehydration. Drinking 2-3 liters of water a day is the recommended daily amount.

Managing Tension Headaches

Treatment varies depending on the cause of the headache. For stress induced tension the following is recommended:

  • Yoga and meditation as well as lying down in a room with minimal light to aid relaxation and release tension from the muscles.
  • Gently massaging the temples and neck can also help reduce the effects of stress related tension headaches.

For tension headaches related to diet it is best to drink only water until the headache passes. In terms of food avoiding caffeine and sugar is advisable as they can cause headaches if consumed in certain amounts. For slightly more serious causes such as anxiety and depression medication may be necessary, however there are other options such as acupuncture which is an alternative painkilling treatment. Sleep is also a very good remedy for any sort of headache.

If headaches persist even after taking these precautions and using these treatment options it might be advisable to see a doctor to ensure there is not a more serious cause behind the pains. As headaches are often induced through lifestyle choices it is important to maintain a healthy diet and take regular exercise as well as reduce anything that may cause stress. Find out more about potential headache treatments.

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Sources:
  • NHS Choices. (2013). 10 Headache Triggers. Retrieved February 17, 2015 from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/headaches/Pages/Headachetriggers.aspx
  • NHS Choices. (2013). Tension Headaches. Retrieved February 17, 2015 from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/headaches-tension-type/Pages/Introduction.aspx