How long should a tension headache last?

You may also feel your neck muscles tighten and a feeling of pressure behind your eyes. A tension headache is usually not severe enough to prevent you from doing daily activities. Tension headaches can last a few hours, several days, weeks, or even months. 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 cause anxiety. Without effective treatment, migraine attacks usually last four to 24 hours. When you have a migraine, even four hours is too much and that is why early migraine treatment is so important.

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Stress and muscle tension are often factors in these headaches. Tension headaches usually don't cause nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. They cause constant pain, rather than throbbing, and tend to affect both sides of the head.

Tension headaches can be chronic, occur frequently or every day. Most headaches are not life-threatening, but occasionally a headache is a sign of a very serious condition. Even so, you should know when a headache needs urgent care and how to control the vast majority of headaches that do not threaten your health. In one study, two-thirds of people diagnosed with chronic tension headache had had a daily or almost daily headache for an average of seven years before seeing a doctor.

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 when the headache started. Tension headaches, which occur in about three out of four adults, are the most common of all headaches. If tension headaches occur regularly or frequently, therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation therapy, or biofeedback can reduce or eliminate headaches. Your seasonal headache may be a cluster headache in spring, a summer migraine, or an allergy headache Finding and avoiding the things or triggers that cause tension headaches can reduce how often you have headaches and how severe they are when you have them.

You may be able to prevent or reduce tension headaches by learning what causes your headaches and try to avoid those triggers. The problem gets its name because headaches tend to occur 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. 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. 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.

It should be noted that drug overuse headache (drug-induced headache) should be ruled out (described above), as it can often be confused with chronic tension headache. However, a proportion of these patients may have developed medication overuse headaches (drug-induced headaches) as a result of their tension headaches. Medication overuse headache is caused by taking pain relievers (or triptan medicines) too often for tension headaches or migraine attacks. 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.