Tension headaches are due to contraction of the muscle fibers about the skull. They are less common and, indeed, most headaches from which people suffer casually are due to this. The fibers of the scalp muscles contracts, and the prolonged contraction finally produces the sensation of pain. The persistence of the muscle tension will aggravate the ache and this may continue for some time, from minutes up to hours. Usually they are short-lived. However, they are often also produced by emotional tensions, stresses and anxieties. Psychosomatic problems are often channeled into tension headaches.
Overwork, long hours, inadequate rest, heat, inadequate meals, loud noises, may all precipitate these headaches. It is also possible that underlying illnesses will help to initiate them, and in fact many diseases of the body organs, joints and other parts may also play a significant part.
Tension Headaches Symptoms
The headache may be mild or severe. It will start as a gentle ache and may develop into a more severe throb, often at the back of the scalp (occiput area). There may be a feeling of fullness or a sensation as though a tight band is placed around the skull, and this often becomes worse if the emotional factors remain or worsen.
Tension Headaches Treatment
Many people are prone to tension headaches, and often they know when to expect one. Stresses, crises, disputes and similar psychological stresses often trigger them. Sensible people who are predisposed to them will make an effort to avoid these circumstances. Often simple analgesics will quickly relieve the headache. Aspirin, either in soluble form or any of the multitude of compounds containing it, is effective. As aspirin often nauseates, it is best to take it after food. Generally soluble aspirin products work faster. The usual adult dose is 2 x 300 mg tablets, repeated three to four hourly if necessary. Taking minimum medication for the shortest time is the best recommendation, and this advice applies to any medication today.
Alternatively, paracetamol (2 x 500 mg tablets) is often suitable. These also come in various brand names and often in conjunction with other compounds. Most patients find which tablet suits them best. It is best to find that form of medication and stick to it. Tranquillizers are sometimes prescribed by the doctor, but these are best reserved for cases where there is a more deeply seated stress or anxiety factor. Often simple home remedies are effective. A hot pack to the area of pain may improve the blood supply and break the muscle spasm. Sometimes a hot pad, electric blanket or similar device may assist.
Physiotherapy can frequently bring effective relief. Gentle massage of the affected part is often very soothing and relaxing. Carried out for several minutes it may diminish the tension and so relieve the headache. Conversely, the simple expedient of placing the feet in hot water and placing a cold pack over the head is an old-fashioned remedy, but it often works. At least it costs nothing, occupies the mind and the hands, and frequently is successful. It is worth a try and certainly does not involve the use of drugs.