Copyright 2006 Trigger. Optics.com. Nothing can put you down as fast as a headache of any type – but tension type headaches, which are also called stress headaches often keep us from accomplishing things that we have set out to do. Tension headaches commonly come on in the middle of the day – when we need to be at our best – making it difficult to get our work done or live our lives normally in many cases.
Most sufferer’s of tension headaches report a constant dull ache on both sides of their heads. These headaches come on slowly, and gradually increase in intensity. A tight feeling in the head and neck may also be experienced. Sometimes the pain is only mild, and sometimes they are severe. Some people report that their tension headaches are worse than a migraine headache. As with most headaches, sensitivity to light is often reported as well.
Tests are not usually required to diagnose a tension headache. Most doctors recognize the problem when the symptoms are reported. However, if you experience tension headaches on a regular basis, especially when there is nothing going on that might cause regular tension headaches, your doctor may order x-rays, a CT scan, an MRI, or blood tests just to rule out other, more serious, possibilities.
How tension headaches are treated is usually determined by the frequency of the headaches. For occasional tension headaches, over the counter pain relievers are often used. You should always read the labels of any type of headache pain relief medication you choose, and do not take it for an extended period of time. If the headaches are not occasional, see your doctor.
For frequent tension headaches, over the counter pain reliever may not work, or may eventually stop working as your body becomes accustomed to the medication. Stronger pain relief medication will most likely be prescribed. You may also need to take anti-anxiety medications as well. Again, this will be determined by your doctor based on the severity and frequency of the headaches.
Because light tends to make tension headaches worse, you should wear a pair of sunglasses to reduce light rays. Sunglasses can often even prevent the headaches. There are companies that offer sunglasses designed specifically for headache sufferers. These sunglasses not only help prevent headaches, they also prevent headache pain from becoming worse.
It is important to know that as headache pain increases it becomes harder to treat the pain. Tension headaches should be treated at the first sign, not when the pain becomes worse. You can treat the headache, from the onset, by putting on sunglasses to reduce the light, taking pain reliever – even though the pain isn’t very bad, and by getting away from a stressful situation that may have caused the headache.
You don’t have to completely forget about the stressful situation, but you can get away from it for just a little while and relax a bit. In more serious cases, a vacation may even be required. Sometimes, stress can become overwhelming it does more than cause a headache. It can make us very sick, and cause high blood pressure as well! This, in turn, can lead to even more serious health problems.
Other treatments include taking a hot bath or shower and/or using heat or ice on your neck or head. Tension headaches can be prevented, again, by wearing sunglasses in bright light, and also by making sure that you get plenty of sleep at night. Regular exercise will also reduce tension headaches. Avoiding stressful situations also helps.
Again, if you have tension headaches on a regular basis, you should really seek the advice of your health care provider. Over the counter medication won’t always help in these situations, and it may even signal a more serious problem.