Tension headaches are a common type of headache that can cause mild, moderate, or severe pain behind the eyes and in the head and neck. They are often caused by muscle contractions in the face, neck, and scalp, which can be a response to stress, depression, head injuries, or anxiety. However, research suggests that muscle contraction is not the only cause of tension headaches. Several factors are thought to be involved, such as genetics and the environment.
Tension headaches can occur at any age, but are more common in adults and older adolescents. They may also be triggered by stressful events or hectic days. While tension headaches are not hereditary, they can become chronic if they occur frequently. Chronic tension headaches can disrupt your life and may require treatment with cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation therapy, or biofeedback.
Medication overuse headache is another type of headache that can be caused by taking pain relievers (or triptan medicines) too often for tension headaches or migraine attacks. It is important to rule out this type of headache if you experience frequent tension headaches. In order to prevent future episodes of tension headaches, it is important to identify the factors that cause them. Working long hours leaning over a computer can trigger them, as can hunger and eye strain.
If you experience life-altering tension headaches or need to take medicine for headaches more than twice a week, it is important to see your doctor.