Tight muscles can cause tension headaches, and when your head is pounding, you just want it to stop. Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments and home remedies that can help relieve the pain. Heat or ice can be applied to the neck and shoulder muscles to reduce tightness. Low-temperature heating pads, hot water bottles, hot showers or baths, warm compresses, or warm towels can be used for heat therapy.
An ice pack (wrapped in a cloth) or a cold cloth can be applied to the forehead for cold therapy. Tension headaches are one of the most common types of headaches and can affect people of any age. They are caused by muscle contractions in the neck and scalp, which are often a response to stress, depression, a head injury, anxiety, holding your head in one position for too long, sleeping in a cold room, exposure to cold temperatures, drinking too much alcohol or caffeine, or dental problems. The pain is usually described as dull and pressure-like rather than throbbing.
It may feel like a tight band or vice around the head and may be present on both sides of the head or worse on the scalp, temples, back of the head, or shoulders. If you have tension headaches, it's important to identify what may be triggering them. Keeping a headache diary can help you and your doctor determine what may be causing your headaches. When you have a headache, write down the day and time when it started, what you ate and drank in the previous 24 hours, how much sleep you got and when, what was happening in your life immediately before the pain began, how long it lasted, and what caused it to stop.
Hot or cold showers or baths may help relieve tension headaches. You may also need to make lifestyle changes such as getting more sleep, exercising more often, stretching your neck and back muscles regularly, and reducing stress levels. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen may also help if relaxation techniques don't work. However, if you have frequent tension headaches (more than once or twice a week), it's best to avoid taking these medications too often as they can cause rebound headaches.
If you have frequent tension headaches, it's important to reduce your stress level and the level of tension in your head, neck, and shoulder muscles. Take breaks from activities such as writing on a computer or using a microscope. Make time for yourself to relax and avoid stressful situations. This is an effective treatment for headaches associated with migraine and can also help relieve tension headaches.
It's important to note that while some treatments may work for tension headaches as well as other types of headaches such as hangovers or sinus infections caused by COVID-19, brain aneurysms and other serious headaches associated with neurological changes such as weakness or loss of consciousness are medical emergencies that should not be treated on your own.