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EDITOR IN CHIEF

Dr RusheeKanta Mohanta (MD.DM.)

Tension Headache

DEC28-24(4)
Date : 1/14/2021
Author : Dr. Ashok Behera (Assistant Prof. Dept of Medicine)
Publisher : Heartmate
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Volume No : 24 Issue No : 4
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Head pain sometimes can be difficult to describe, but some common symptoms include throbbing, squeezing, constant, unrelenting, or intermittent. The location may be in one part of the face or skull or may be generalized involving the whole head. The head is one of the most common sites of pain in the body.

Headache is often associated with nausea and vomiting. This is especially true with migraine headaches

tension-headache

Causes

While tension headaches are the most frequently occurring type of headache, their cause is not known. The most likely cause is contraction of the muscles that cover the skull. When the muscles covering the skull are stressed, they may become inflamed, go into spasm, and cause pain. Common sites include the base of the skull where the trapezius muscles of the neck insert, the temples where muscles that move the jaw are located, and the forehead.

Signs And Symptoms 

Common signs and symptoms of tension headaches include:

  • 1. Pain that begins in the back of the head and upper neck and is often described as a band-like tightness or pressure. It may spread to encircle the head.
  • 2. The most intense pressure may be felt at the temples or over the eyebrows where the temporalis and frontal muscles are located.
  • 3. The pain may vary in intensity but usually is not disabling, meaning that the sufferer may continue with daily activities. The pain usually is bilateral .
  • 4. The pain is not associated with an aura, nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound.
  • 5. The pain occurs sporadically  but can occur frequently and even daily in some people.
  • 6. The pain allows most people to function normally, despite the headache.

Diagnosis

The key to making the diagnosis of any headache is the history given by the patient. The health care professional will ask questions about the headache to try to help make the diagnosis. Those questions will try to define the quality, quantity, and duration of the pain, as well as any associated symptoms. The person with a tension headache will usually complain of mild-to-moderate pain that is located on both sides of the head. People with tension headaches describe the pain as a non-throbbing tightness, that is not made worse with activity. There usually are no associated symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or light sensitivity.

Treatment

Tension headaches are painful, and patients may be upset that the diagnosis is "only" a tension headache. Even though it is not life threatening, a tension headache can make daily activities more difficult to accomplish. Most people successfully treat themselves with over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications to control tension headaches. The following work well for most people:

  • 1.  aspirin, ibuprofen , acetaminophen and naproxen 

If these fail, other supportive treatments are available. Recurrent headaches should be a signal to seek medical help. Physical therapy, massage, biofeedback, and stress management can all be used as adjuncts to help control tension headaches.

It is important to remember that OTC medications, while safe, are medications and may have side effects and potential interactions with prescription medications. It always is wise to ask a health care professional or pharmacist if one has questions about OTC medications and their use. This is especially important with OTC pain medications, because they are used so frequently.

It is important to read the listing of ingredients in OTC pain medications. Often an OTC medication is a combination of ingredients, and the second or third listed ingredient may have the potential of interfering with the action of other drugs based upon a patient's other medical issues. For example:

  • 1. Some OTC medications include caffeine, which may trigger rapid heartbeats in some patients.
  • 2. In nighttime preparations, diphenhydramine  may be added. This may cause sedation, and driving or using heavy machinery may not be appropriate when taking a sedative medication.
  • 3. Some OTC cold medications have pseudoephedrine mixed in with the pain medication. This drug can cause elevated blood pressure and palpitations.

Dr. Ashok Behera

Assistant Prof. Dept of Medicine

Heartmate Institute Pvt. Ltd.

 




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