You get tension headaches when the muscles in the head and neck regions become tensed. Traditional methods of treating headaches include home remedies and alternative treatments besides using allopathic medication. Tension headaches are mild as compared to migraines that exhibit a throbbing pain in the temples.
For some people, the tension headache is like a steel band that is tied around the head. In some people, the pain is centered behind the eyes. For most of the people, the tension headaches are episodic headaches meaning they occur periodically once a fortnight or once a month.
Other people get chronic headaches. This type of a headache will last for 12-15 days and may occur with an interval or a week or ten days in between the headaches. Women get these headaches more frequently than men.
Causes for tension headaches
Other than muscle contractions in the head and neck region, the tension headaches might also occur due to the pressure from some stressors, eating a certain type of food, or some specific activities. One might develop tension headaches by staring at the computer screen for a long time. In some other cases, the tension headache happens due to the change in the temperatures such as the cold climate or extreme heat. The other reasons for these headaches may be due to dry eyes, smoking, fatigue, poor posture, alcohol, emotional stress, caffeine, or eye strain.
- Eating a certain type of food
- Some specific activities
- By staring at the computer screen for a long time
- Due to the change in the temperatures such as the cold climate or extreme heat
- Dry eyes
- Poor posture
- Emotional stress
- Eye strain
You can treat most headaches with prescription and OTC medicines. But, there is the danger of overusing this method of treatment.
Pain relievers are the first recourse whenever one has a headache. These drugs will include medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Among the prescription medicines, we have indomethacin, and ketorolac.
The second group of medicines is for people who experience episodic headaches and migraines. Triptan will effectively help relieve the pain in both types of headaches. Opiates or narcotics also find a use but people do not prefer them due to their addictive effect.
Use of combination medicines is useful in a few cases. They combine medicines such as acetaminophen and aspirin with a sedative drug or caffeine. Combination drugs have more effect than single drugs for relieving pain. You can buy combination drugs as OTC medication.
When painkiller does not work, the physician may prescribe a muscle relaxant. This will stop the muscle contractions.
Have a shower
When you are afflicted by the tension headaches, you should have a shower. Some of the headaches are caused by the heat and cold changes in the environment. If we have a bath, it will neutralize the temperature in our body so that the tension is removed.
Alternatively, you could dip a cloth in cold (or warm water) and tie it firmly around your forehead.
Prevention of tension headaches
For those who experience headaches and migraines frequently, preventive medication is needed. You can either avoid the headaches entirely or reduce the severity of the attack by using these medicines.
Tricyclic antidepressants: Medicines used commonly for tension headaches include tricyclic antidepressants such as protriptyline and amitriptyline. However, these medications have side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, and constipation.
Muscle relaxants and anticonvulsants: This is the next group of medicines they use to treat tension headaches. Anticonvulsants such as topiramate find a use for treatment.
Additional antidepressants: In a few instances, they may use antidepressants such as mirtazapine and venlafaxine.
You should know these rebound headaches will occur. These types of headaches keep coming back. It will happen if you use the same pain medication repeatedly.
Home remedies and alternative medicine for tension headaches
A variety of home remedies is available. People prefer this due to the simplicity in use. There are few side effects, and the relief is immediate.
Applying the massage technique is effective and easy. You have diverse types of massages depending on the type and origin of a headache. The massage is especially useful if you tension in the neck and shoulder. You can try the Swedish massage or the Deep Tissue Massage if you want more relief.
Hot and cold compress
You can try a hot or cold compress too. During the cold compress, the pain transmitted through the nerves of the head is subjected to the low temperatures. This reduces the intensity of signals that the nerves send. This will help reduce the pain you feel.
In the hot compress, the blood vessels that supply the blood in the head and neck region is enlarged by the heat you apply. The increased blood flow helps ease a headache.
Other treatment options
You can try a variety of other treatment options that change your lifestyle and habitual movements. This directs the action towards the cause of the headaches and so the cure will be more long-lasting. First, you have the stress-management classes. Here you study how to deal with the various stresses you have in your daily life. They teach you to address the causes and look for hidden areas where the stresses build up. This type of treatment is recommended when you do not know why the headaches occur.
Next, we have acupuncture treatment. In this treatment, they draw the tension out of the body by pinpointing the lines of tension in the body. This is effective and very relaxing. You will get the most benefit if you do this regularly. They use pins in the acupressure points on the body.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
For those who are having orientation problems and are suffering an identity crisis, the use of cognitive behavioral therapy will do much good. They teach you to go through the situation where you face a threat, stress, and other negative emotions. When you do not react in the proper manner, you will be instructed to go through the situation again until you get the answer to your problem. This is a long-lasting solution, and you will benefit by attending the behavioral therapy classes.
Last, we have the biofeedback methods where you address the stresses in the body through relaxation techniques. This removes the stresses in the body, and you get relief from your headache.
The bottom line
Beware of the use of headache medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen. They might irritate the stomach causing a diarrhea and other unpleasant symptoms. Acetaminophen can damage the liver is you take it in doses exceeding 3,000 mg/day. So, it always advisable to consult a doctor before taking any medicine.