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An Introduction To Tension Headaches

Updated on July 21, 2008

An Introduction To Tension Headaches

It would seem obvious that tension headaches are the result of tension but, although for many years this has been thought to be the cause of this type of headache, modern thinking is that this is not in fact the case, although no alternative cause has as yet been firmly established.

Today it is thought far more likely that tension headaches result from the interaction of serotonin with certain nerve cells and research using drugs which alter the level of serotonin in the body would seem at this stage to support this hypothesis. Nonetheless, there is still a great deal of research to be done before we find a definitive answer.

In the meantime however treatments developed over the years for what we now more properly refer to a 'tension-type' rather than 'tension' headaches continue to be effective for a headache which nearly everyone will have experienced at some point in the life.

Tension-type headaches are more prevalent in women than in men and, while they normally occur infrequently, some people do suffer from chronic tension-type headaches experiencing them on a regular basis several times a month. In normally cases they typically last for just a few hours but can often be quite debilitating and prevent you from going about your normal day-to-day business. In many cases a simple aspirin is all that is needed to treat the condition, although some people do need to be careful as aspirin can irritate the lining of the stomach. There are however many other treatments available, including combination drugs, and common alternatives include acetaminophen, ibuprofen and Excedrin. In all cases it is a question of finding which works best for you.

As with most things in life prevention is better than cure and tension-type headaches are no exception to this rule. This means regular exercise, a good and balance diet and correct posture because, while muscle tension in the head, neck, shoulders and back may no longer be considered the primary cause of tension-type headaches, it certainly plays an important part in the overall equation.

Simply things such as changing your position regularly and not sitting still in one position for too long can work wonders, as can ensuring that your chair is properly adjusted and your keyboard and mouse are correctly positioned when working at your computer. Also make sure that you are not sleeping on a worn out mattress and that your pillow provides adequate support for your head and neck while you are sleeping.

Regular exercise also helps to keep your muscles strong and healthy and to maintain a good blood supply which will lessen the incidence of headaches, as well as their severity. In addition, regular exercise ensures a good supply of oxygen to your entire body and a lack of adequate oxygen supply is another factor which many doctors consider to be important when it comes to triggering a headache.

For a minority of people tension headaches can be quite severe and normal over-the-counter medications simply do not do the trick. In these cases it is though that such tension headaches are in fact similar to a mild form of migraine and you should consult your doctor for a recommendation on treatment.

Great Ways To Relieve Tension Headaches


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