Tension headaches Treatment, Drugs, Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

A tension headache is typically a diffuse, mild to moderate pain in the head that is often explained as a ‘tight band’ around the head or forehead. Tension-type headaches are the most prevalent types of headaches. Generally, the headache begins at the forehead before radiating around to the back of the head.

Tension headaches Drugs

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen
  • Prescription medications include naproxen, ketorolac, and Indocin

Tension headaches Symptoms

Typically, the signs and symptoms of tension headaches include:

  • A dull, aching pain in the head
  • Sensations of tightness or pressure across the forehead. The pressure may also be felt on the sides and back of the head.
  • Tenderness of the scalp and neck as well as shoulder muscles

It is imperative to mention that tension headaches are categorized into two as outlined below.

Episodic Tension Headaches: These headaches can last for up to 30 minutes or one week. Frequent episodic tension headaches occur at an interval of 15 days a month for at least 3 months. If untreated, frequent episodic headaches may aggravate to a chronic status.

Chronic Tension Headaches: These headaches last hours and may be unending. They typically occur 15 days or more within a month for at least three months.

Tension headaches Causes

While the exact cause of a tension headache is not known, medical practitioners attribute is to factors such as stress, lack of enough sleep or skipping meals. A variety of conditions may also trigger an onset of tension headaches such overexertion, eye strain and vision problems. Muscle strains brought about by poor posture have also been associated with tension headaches.

In children, a tension headache may be as a result of a response to changes in school, bullying, social isolation or situations at home such as a birth of a new sibling. Overall, stress is cited as the most common cause of tension headaches.

Tension headaches Diagnosis

Diagnosis for tension headaches involves physical and neurological examinations. The process may take any of the following approaches.

The patient’s description of pain: The doctor may want to know more about the pain using the patient’s description. The doctor may seek to find out if the pain is pulsating, dull, stabbing or sharp. He or she may also want to know about the pain location and intensity

Image Testing – These are done for complicated headaches. The most common image tests include:

  • Computerized tomography (CT): This is an imaging procedure that involves the uses a sequence of computer generated images to give a comprehensive view of the brain.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This method combines radio waves, magnetic field and computer technologies to generate images of the brain.

Tension headaches Treatment

Treatment of tension headaches involves the use of pain relievers and other medications to lower the frequency and intensity of attacks. Some of the treatment options include:

  • Use of pain relievers to reduce the effects of the headaches
  • Combining pain relievers with other medication to increase efficiency and speed up results
  • Use of narcotics and opiates particularly for episodic migraines
  • Use of depressants to lower the effects of stress, thereby helping prevent the occurrence of tension headaches. Note that use of antidepressants may cause weight gain, dry mouth or drowsiness.
  • Use of anticonvulsants and muscle relaxants that may help prevent tension headaches