Stress headaches, or tension headaches as they are often called, are the most common type of headaches among adults. They usually cause mild to moderate pain around the forehead, neck and back of head. If they occur more than 15 times per month, then you suffer from chronic tension headaches. Most people get them much less than that, these are called episodic.
What Causes Stress Headaches
The actual cause of stress headaches is unknown, but they are believed to stem from muscle contractions in the neck and head area. There seem to be certain stressors that cause these contractions. Physical activities, certain foods, staring at a computer screen too long, and too many hours of driving are all common causes. Of course, issues at home, work or school can all contribute to stress headaches, as well. Other triggers include:
• Tiredness, sleepiness, fatigue
• Sinus pressure
• Eye strain
• Emotional stress
• Hormonal changes, PMS (women)
• Illnesses such as colds and the flu
• Bad posture
• Low iron levels, anemia
• Teeth grinding, jaw clinching
How to Relieve and Prevent Stress Headaches
Medicines and Treatments
Most people turn to over-the-counter pain medications as the first step to getting rid of a pesky headache. Ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, naproxen and medicines that combine aspirin or acetaminophen with caffeine, all usually work well. If these do not help, your doctor may decide to write you a prescription for something stronger.
A low-fat diet with anti-inflammatory foods should be implemented. It is important to start off your day with a good breakfast and do not skip any meals. Hunger only contributes to bad moods and headaches. It is also vital to stay hydrated, while avoiding caffeinated drinks. Chocolate, sodas, energy drinks, aged cheeses, MSG and fermented foods can all trigger stress headaches.
Plenty of Rest
A good night’s sleep can reduce stress and help keep headaches at bay. It is recommended to get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep each night. A regular sleep schedule, with consistent wake and sleep times, is also important. If you are able to sneak in a short nap during the day, even better!
Exercise is the perfect way to reduce stress, which in turn, can reduce the likelihood of getting a headache. Regular, moderate exercise lowers stress hormones, boosts endorphins, increases energy and helps your mood.
Most individuals will experience stress headaches. They can be mild for some and debilitating for others. There are various factors that are associated with these headaches, but if you follow the suggestions mentioned in this article, you can decrease their occurrence drastically.