We all experience an occasional bothersome headache, but according to the Mayo Clinic, about 4 percent to 5 percent of U.S. adults suffer from chronic headaches. The most commonly reported headache is the tension headache which accounts for 75%- 90% of people who complain of frequent headaches.
Some experts believe they stem from contracted muscles, while others believe they’re related to changes in your brain chemicals, such as serotonin, endorphins and others, which help your nerves communicate.
Fortunately, these types of headaches aren’t usually a sign of something serious. Instead, tension-type headaches are usually related to lifestyle factors that you can affect.
Some of the most common causes of tension headaches include:
- Lack of sleep
- Grinding your teeth
- Depression and anxiety
- Stiff neck
- Hormonal changes related to menstruation, menopause, pregnancy or hormone use
- Overexerting yourself
- Sleeping in an awkward position
- Eye strain
- Colds, flu or sinus infections
Tension headaches can occur at any time and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a full week.
Ways to Prevent, and Relieve Tension Headaches
Changes to your lifestyle are the best lines of defense to prevent or minimize tension headaches.
Suggestions for headache relief include:
- Manage your stress levels. Schedule regular times to de-stress during your day by meditating, deep breathing, reading or taking a long walk.
- Start stretching– Regular stretching is well known to help relieve pain, including headache pain.
- Look for triggers –Watch out for signs of something you might do regularly that might set off your headache. Did you have a double espresso? It may be the caffeine. Did you walk by a perfume counter? You may be sensitive to fragrances?
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet—Eating a well balanced with fruits and vegetables is one of the most important things you can do to manage tension headaches.
- Get enough sleep –Most adults need an average of 7-9 hours sleep a day.
- Exercise – Is well known to reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches. Exercise may even help to relieve the pain of a tension headache in progress.
- Stand up Straight –Improving your posture will help to keep strain on your muscles, tendons and bones to a minimum.
Some Headaches May Be Serious?
Most headaches do not signal an underlying illness, but in some cases headaches can be related to serious conditions. You should see your physician if you experience any of the following:
- Have headaches that are severe and come on suddenly
- Have fever, a stiff neck, mental confusion, numbness, weakness or double vision along with your headache
- Are over the age of 50 and start to experience headache pain you’ve never felt before
- Get headaches from coughing, moving quickly or straining
- Have a headache after a head injury