How long can a tension headache last?

Frequent episodic tension headaches occur less than 15 days a month for at least three months. Frequent episodic tension headaches can become chronic. Tension headaches can last a few hours, several days, weeks, or even months. Without effective treatment, migraine attacks usually last four to 24 hours.

When you have a migraine, even four hours is too much and that's why early migraine treatment is so important. The average tension headache, the most common type of headache, lasts about four hours. But for some people, severe headaches go on much longer, sometimes for several days. And these “endless headaches” can even provoke anxiety.

Write down when you have a headache and how bad it is, along with details such as what you ate and what you were doing before the headache started. If tension headaches occur regularly or frequently, therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation therapy, or biofeedback can reduce or eliminate headaches. If you have frequent headaches and use medicines, over-the-counter or prescription, or both, for more than 10 to 15 days a month, you may have medication overuse headaches. If over-the-counter medicines don't stop your headaches well enough or if you have a lot of headaches, your doctor may prescribe medicines to prevent headaches.

The problem gets its name because headaches tend to appear in groups, with one to eight headaches per day for a period of one to three months each year or two, often at the same time of year. Write down when you have a headache and how bad it is, along with details like what you ate and what you were doing when the headache started. Because tension headaches recur in some people for years and because continued use of medications can cause serious side effects, prevention is a key aspect in the treatment of tension headaches. This medicine does not treat the headache instantly, but should be taken daily for several months until the headaches subside.

Chronic tension headache is a condition where you have a tension headache at least 15 days a month for at least three months. This is what the official medical publication that classifies all headache disorders calls this headache. If you have a headache 15 or more days each month for a period of 3 months, you may have chronic tension headaches. They will ask questions about headaches, family history, diet, and lifestyle to help diagnose the type of headache you have.

Your seasonal headache may be a cluster headache in spring, a summer migraine, or an allergy headache. While chronic tension headaches can disrupt your life, tension headaches usually don't cause serious health problems. Some studies have estimated that about 1 in 30 adults have chronic tension headaches, which means they have a headache more than half of every day for three months or more.