Tension headaches as per the name itself are caused by a variety of factors that result in the tension on the cranium or the head. Tension type headaches are the most common type of primary headaches and it affects a large percentage of the population.
When you feel constant tightness in your head and in a bilateral fashion (both sides of the head), you are certain that it is tension type headache that you are feeling. Although tension headaches are common, it can still result in significant discomfort in the head. In fact, 4% of people suffering from this type of headache develop chronic tension headaches that involve moderate to severe pain.
Tension headaches are different from migraines. Migraines tend to develop as a result of neurovascular causes while tension headaches result from anything that can put tension on the muscles resulting in a feeling of tightness along the head in a bilateral pattern.
Tension type headaches are usually attributed to people with type A personalities or those that are perfectionist. This is due to the fact that they constantly are faced with stress and a fast-paced lifestyle leading to muscle tension and tightness. It is also due to this explanation that tension headaches are frequently experienced by people after a long and stressful work.
Clenching of teeth is also seen as a cause for tension headaches. Clenching the teeth usually results in the chronic spam or contraction of the temporalis muscle leading to muscle tension along the head and neck.
Another cause of tension type headaches is sleep deprivation. When you don’t sleep, the muscles on your head tend not to relax making them tight and tensed throughout. Since muscles are constantly tensed, there is also poor oxygenation of the muscles along the cranium, leading to further spasm and more intense headaches.
A bad posture or a stressful position especially along the back, shoulders and neck can also precipitate tension headaches. When the spine, shoulders and neck are not positioned correctly, the muscles that arise along these areas become spastic, which radiate to the muscles along the head and neck. Those who work in front of the computer, sit for prolonged periods and have infrequent change of positions may suffer from tension headache more frequently than the general population because of this reason.
Another common cause of tension headache is eye strain. When you work for longer hours in glare light such as in front of the monitor or your eyes have been exposed to sunlight outdoors, you tend to wrinkle your forehead contributing to muscle strain on the forehead in the long run. Those with eye problems also usually suffer from tension headache because of this.
Finally, missing meals that results in hunger can also precipitate tension headaches. This is for the reason that hunger can lead to reduced blood glucose to the head contributing to headaches.
Knowing these causes, tension headaches are by far more preventable than migraine headaches. A regular stress-relieving activity is seen to be an important remedy and prevention of tension headache as well as good posture, adequate sleep, proper nutrition and regular exercise.