Tension Headache Symptoms

Tension headache symptoms include a dull aching head; a feeling of pressure or tightness across the front, sides, or back of the head; tenderness of the scalp, neck, TMJ jaw pain, or shoulder muscles; and sometimes a loss of appetite. The severity of pain varies among individuals and with episodes. Tension headaches can be occasional, or they can occur as frequently as 15 or more times per month, which makes them a chronic problem. One tension headache can last from a half hour to several days.

Tension headache symptoms usually are not the same as migraine symptoms and therefore require different treatment than the migraine headache treatment. Migraines usually include nausea, achy joints, slurred speech, and visual disturbances, but tension headaches normally do not present these symptoms. However, sensitivity to light can accompany a tension headache.

A good rule of thumb is that if you are taking medicine more than twice a week for headaches, you should see a doctor to try to find what causes the headaches. Sometimes, the cause is very serious, such as a brain tumor or aneurysm of a blood vessel. The Mayo Clinic advises us to seek emergency care in case of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Abrupt, severe headache, which may be like a thunderclap
  • Headache with a fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness or speaking difficulties
  • Headache after a head injury, especially if the headache gets worse
  • Chronic, progressive headache that is precipitated by coughing, exertion, straining or a sudden movement

There are many headache remedies, from drinking a coke to getting surgery. But, for most of us, the common tension headache treatments that work are nsaids (pain relievers), sleep, staying hydrated, managing stress through exercise and hobbies, lowering blood pressure, chiropractic adjustments, and TMJ mouthguards that help reduce TMJ symptoms, and prevent teeth from grinding at night. All these can provide answers to how to stop headaches. So, if you are experiencing tension headache symptoms, you may want to try some of the above remedies.


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