People who've experienced a tension headache may describe their symptoms slightly differently. However, for the most part, a tension headache causes pain on both sides of the head. The pain can range from mild to severe, or be constant but not throbbing.
There are many potential causes of tension headaches, and learning more about why these headaches occur can help you prevent them in the future.
What Triggers Tension Headaches?
Muscle contractions in the neck and head regions are the primary instigators of tension headaches. These contractions can be caused by a variety of stressors, activities or even foods.
Other triggers of tension headaches include:
- Cold temperatures
- Driving for long periods
- Staring at a screen for an extended period
- Skipping meals
- Lack of sleep
- Insufficient water intake
- Emotional stress
- Poor posture
- A sinus infection
- A cold or flu
- Dry eyes
- Eye strain
How Are Tension-Type Headaches Diagnosed?
There is no definitive test to diagnose tension headaches. Besides evaluating your symptoms and reviewing your medical history, a health care provider may ask you a series of questions to learn more about your symptoms. These could include:
- How would you describe your stress levels?
- How often do you have symptoms?
- Do over-the-counter pain relievers help you feel better?
- Do your symptoms feel worse after eating certain foods?
- Are your symptoms worse at certain times of the day?
How Can I Prevent Tension Headaches?
Reducing your response to stress and implementing some lifestyle changes are the best ways to prevent tension headaches. You may want to try:
- Getting quality, restful sleep regularly
- Staying hydrated
- Exercising regularly
- Massage therapy
- Stretching your neck and upper back
When Should I Call a Doctor for My Headache?
It may be time to seek medical care if you're experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Sudden, severe headache that quickly gets worse
- Persistent fever or stiff neck
- Headache following a concussion
- Sudden changes in your headache patterns
- Weakness, slurred speech or confused thoughts
- New-onset headache over the age of 50
- New-onset headache paired with autoimmune disease or cancer
Get Help From the Board-Certified Orthopedic Specialists at Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms related to tension headaches, it may be time to seek the help of a spine specialist. At Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics, our doctors in Nashville, Tennessee, are fellowship-trained and will work to help you find relief.
To take advantage of the superior services available at Elite Sports Medicine, book an appointment online or call the location nearest you today.