Episodic and Chronic Tension Headaches
Generally speaking most people are unaware that there are many different types of headaches. This can make selecting the correct treatment for your condition confusing.
We are going to look at tension headaches which are recognized as easily the most frequently experienced type by both men and women alike. At sometime in their lives most people will experience at least one tension headache.
Research indicates that tension headaches are split into two categories, namely; Episodic and Chronic.
Episodic- A typical episodic tension headache will last for between a few minutes to 3 – 4 hours. It is quite common for there to be no warning. A episodic tension headache is defined as a headache that happens on less than 15 days each month.
Chronic- A typical chronic tension headache will last for between 4 and 6 hours. A chronic tension headache is defined as a headache that happens on more than 15 days each month over a continuous period of 3 months. Whilst the Chronic tension headache condition is not as common as episodic it is far more prevalent in women than men.
Evidence has indicated that whilst the pain levels of the 2 categories is similar, Chronic tension headache sufferers say that the pain is both daily and continuous. As well as pain there may be tenderness of the scalp with both types. Sufferers of episodic tension headaches may graduate to a chronic condition.
Cause of Tension Headache
There have been many theories as to the cause of tension headaches and research is ongoing. We propose to cover this aspect and the latest research in future articles but many people in the medical profession are still of the opinion that muscle contraction or tension in the muscles of the neck, the head, and shoulders may be the root cause.
The pain felt with a tension type headache is not on one side similar to some migraines. It is quite common for the pain to be felt on both sides of the head at the same time. The feeling of pain can also be experienced as a tightness in your forehead and at the back of your head. Some sufferers have described the pain to be like a rope being tightened around your head.
Tension Headache Medication and Treatment
Episodic Tension Headache
An episodic type headache is usually treated with Analgesic pain relievers such as ibuprofen and aspirin pills/tablets available at the drug store.
An alternative approach is to reduce the tension you are feeling.
Options such as:
Yoga and meditation
Massage to alleviate the pain
Unfortunately the path to relief may involve more significant action on your part. If the root cause stems from employment or a relationship then a much more difficult choice may have to be made to rid your life of recurring head pains.
Chronic Tension Headache
The overuse of pain relieving drugs to treat headaches may cause other problems so over the counter drugs may not be the answer to treating chronic tension headaches.
These problems could include the build up of immunity resulting in the sufferer taking more pills just to feel better. There is also the possibility of what are called ‘rebound headaches’ that do not respond to pain relieving medication. In the case of chronic tension headaches you would be better advised to consult your doctor and consider the alternatives that are available to treat your condition.
Tension Headache – conclusion
If, for whatever reasons, you are not able to try the suggestions mentioned above then at least you should know that if you are suffering from tension headaches, no matter how uncomfortable, they are not known to be dangerous. However, if your headache pains are ongoing then you should definitely make an appointment to see your doctor to find out exactly what is causing your problem.
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