Know Your Pain

Tension Headache

A tension headache is perhaps the most common type of headache. Tension headache is usually a diffused mild to moderate form of pain and accounts for 90% of the headaches. These kinds of headaches can be easily managed using a fine balance of non drug treatments and medications. A healthy lifestyle can prove to be of great help in avoiding such headaches.

Episodic or chronic
A tension headache can last for anywhere between 30 minutes to a week. Depending upon how long your pain lasts and its frequency, tension headache can be classified as episodic or chronic. If you headache occurs for more than fifteen days in a month, the headache can be classified as chronic. However, if you suffer from pain for less than 15 days of the month, the pain can be categorized as episodic.

Causes
The exact cause of a tension headache is yet to be known. Earlier it was believed that stress or tension that lead to a muscle contraction in the face, neck and scalp was the cause of a tension headache. However, a recent study has revealed that there is no specific link between muscle contraction and a headache.

Instead, it has been found that a tension headache is caused as a result of changes in brain chemicals. Fluctuation of Certain brain chemicals that help nerves communicate such as serotonin, endorphins leads to a headache.

Other than the change in the level of brain chemicals, there are several other factors as well that can trigger a headache. Some of these factors include stress, jaw clenching, depression, anxiety, poor posture amidst several others.

Symptoms
A tension headache may be confused with a migraine. But a tension headache is very different form migraine. Unlike migraine, a tension headache is not accompanied with vision problems, nausea, vomiting and other conditions. Here are some symptoms of a tension headache that will help you identify the problem.

* Dull, mild pain in the head
* Pressure over the face and the head
* A sensation of tightness over the area of the head in pain
* Scalp, neck and shoulder feel tender
* Loss of appetite can be experienced in some cases

Treatment
In most cases tension headaches can be treated with over the counter medications. However, make sure that you do not overuse these medications as that can result in a rebound headache. Here are some of the available OTC medications that you can opt for.

* Analgesics
* Combination medications

You could also use various preventive medications to avoid a headache. Preventive medications include:

* Tricyclic antidepressant
* Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

Changes in your lifestyle can also help in managing tension headaches. Try to avoid any kind of stress, perfect your posture, eat healthy and exercising are some of the things you can do to avoid a tension headache.