Tension Headaches

A headache may have varying symptoms, such as migraine headaches (which tend to affect just one side of your head) and cluster headaches (which occur regularly over a certain period of time). The most common headache type is called tension headache. It often feels like a tight band of pressure around your head.

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Tension Headache Symptoms And Treatment

Most people get tension headaches from time to time, so you're not alone. While uncomfortable and annoying, they are generally not severe enough to stop you carrying out everyday activities.

What are the main tension headache symptoms?

Symptoms vary according to the cause and severity of your headache, but they can include:

  • Dull, aching head pain, often starting at the temples or base of the head
  • Equal pain on both sides of your head
  • A feeling like a band stretched tightly across your head
  • Stiffness or pain in the shoulders or neck muscles

The pain generally ranges from mild to moderate, and can last anywhere between half an hour and a number of head-pounding days.

What causes tension headaches?

The exact cause of tension headache pain is not yet known. Tension headaches can be triggered or worsened by a tightening of the muscles of your neck, scalp or jaws, as a result of poor posture or tension. Other triggers are thought to include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Emotional upset
  • Fatigue or lack of sleep
  • Eye strain (including bright light, prolonged reading or screen time)

How can I relieve tension headaches?

Once a headache starts, treat it with suitable pain-relieving medication, such as Panadol Extra. Other things you could try include:

  • Rest and relax, or even try to sleep, as some people find this helps reduce the pain
  • Take a hot bath
  • Hold a heat pack against the painful area
  • Have a head, neck and shoulder massage

If symptoms persist or you get frequent headaches, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor.

How can I stop headaches happening?

It could be worth keeping a 'headache diary' to help identify what's causing your headache. Making some lifestyle changes is the first step to help get rid of tension headaches.

A few things that may help stop headaches include:

  • Try to relax more, and identify and reduce any causes of stress
  • When working, on your mobile or tablet or watching TV, watch your posture, and make sure you have good lighting
  • Ensure you prioritise getting enough sleep
  • Take regular low impact exercise such as walking, swimming and yoga, and remember to stretch lightly

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