If you have been wondering on how to get rid of a tension headache that keeps recurring; rest assured that you are not alone. Statistics indicate that 48% of women and 38% of men have gone through the experience globally.
What is a tension headache?
A mild to moderate intensity pain in the region of the head and the neck accompanied by a band like sensation around the forehead is suggestive of a tension headache.
Classifying tension headaches
Women are twice as prone when compared to men and it seldom occurs as a one time episode. When these headaches occur for one to three days in a month, they are classified as episodic tension headaches. On the contrary, when the frequency is for 15 or more days in a month, medical literature will connote them as chronic tension headaches.
Muscle contractions in the region of the head and the neck can trigger off an attack of tension headaches. While some people would contract a tension headache by merely staring at a computer screen for a long period of time, there are others who would experience one after they have had a severe attack of flu or a cold.
Tension headache symptoms
Tension headaches may present with some or more of these symptoms:
- Localized or diffuse pain around the scalp and the head
- Experiencing a constricting pain around the forehead and
- A dull pain in the head
Although tension headaches are usually accompanied by a dull or moderate intensity pain, in some instances the pain can be excruciating.
How to get rid of a tension headache fast and naturally
Experts are of the opinion that tension headaches are close to being an epidemic; thus the need is to diagnose it early and treat appropriately.
Conventional medicine invariably treats tension headaches with over the counter pain medications and can only provide temporary relief. If you opt for natural remedies and lifestyle modification, future attacks can be minimized.
One of the more intimidating limitations of relying on pain killers is that it could lead a disconcerting medical condition known as Medication Overuse Headaches. This is one type of headache that occurs when pain killers are consumed for more than ten days.
This invariably results in a habituation situation wherein if you stop taking the drug, headaches are triggered off. Thus, it is scarcely surprising that the preferred option is to adopt for natural tension headache remedies:
Maintain a Diary
Keep a log or a diary of your daily activities, diet, beverages consumed and stress situations encountered. This will help you isolate and identify the factors which can cause or trigger an attack.
All that you may need to do is to first identify the trigger and then avoid the precipitating factor, so that future episodes of tension headaches are minimized. To illustrate the case in point, if you maintain a diary and make a note of any attack that you have had, then you would be able to connect and correlate with other factors. Thus, it helps to determine as to which food or activity triggered off an attack in the past.
Rest and Cure
Lack of sleep and fatigue continue to be considered as some of the most important triggers when it comes to tension headaches. When you sleep less, you are prone to contracting tension headaches as your threshold for pain falls.
Naturalists believe that adequate amount of rest must be taken by those who have been experiencing frequent attacks of tension headaches.
If you have been debating on how to treat tension headaches, then the probability is that you have not tried a heating pad yet. One of the simplest yet most frequently overlooked options is to procure and use a heating pad.
Ideally, the pad may be placed just under the shoulders and the base of the neck for best results. This results in relaxing the muscles in the affected area and invariably results in quick relief in most instances.
The scientific logic being that most tension headaches are due to the stiffening of the muscles in the region of the neck and the shoulders.
It has been medically validated that tension headaches are an outcome of extreme stress. Hence, it is evident that if one could relieve stress, these headaches will subside.
One of the simplest methods of relaxing is listening to music. There would be others who may find comfort in taking a quiet walk. Alternatively, taking a short power nap can help rejuvenate and relax which relieves tension headaches quite effectively.
If you are suffering from tension headaches, it is possible that you are under extreme stress which may lead to a state of hyperventilation. Hyperventilation is a physiological process where the rate of breathing is fast and shallow. This means that the oxygen requirement of the body is not met. In situations like these, one would find a relief from adopting a deep breathing maneuver.
The technique is simple:
Lie flat on a bed, take a deep breath and hold your breath for a few seconds and follow this up with a deep exhalation process.
When pressure is applied to specific zones in the hands and feet, it is believed that blocked energy is released which ensures that the affected organ begins to function normally again.
The specialist will first use gentle soothing motions over the sole of the foot. This is invariably followed by using the thumbs and the fingers of the hand to apply sustained pressure at multiple points over an invisible tract. This results in removal of the toxins from the body as well as release of blocked energy within the body.
The affected organ begins to heal. Thus, leading to reversal of symptoms commonly associated with tension headaches.
This is one of the traditional Chinese medicine techniques which is becoming increasingly popular as a remedy for tension headaches. Acupuncturists are convinced that when the energy pathways are blocked, it invariably results in a tension headache.
Acupuncture is a specialized procedure, wherein needles are inserted into the energy tract so that the energy channels are unblocked. Concurrently, acupuncture is known to release opioids which are strong pain relievers. It also slows down the sympathetic system and releases neurotransmitters in the brain.
The Massage Specialist
One of the popular options for treating tension headaches is massage. This works on the concept of relaxing the muscles in the neck, shoulders and upper arms by resorting to different massage techniques. A massage therapist will first evaluate your posture and suggest correction methods like keeping the head in a neutral position. This will help you keep the neck leveled.
When the symptoms are milder, a hot towel or a heating pad will help. Apply the hot towel locally for a period of 15 to 20 minutes. The pain, tenderness, and contractions will subside.
Yoga and Tension Headaches
Yoga experts think that an imbalance between your sympathetic and parasympathetic system invariably triggers off a tension headache. It could well be concluded that adopting high energy yoga postures, such as Sun Salutations and headstands, can go a long way towards relief of symptoms. Also, including neck stretching movements will help to reverse symptoms.
Chiropractics are known to work on the concept of correcting the misalignment of the spine to cure tension or stress headaches; as they are more commonly known. Conceptually, chiropractics are of the opinion that misalignment of the spine is responsible for compression or nerve pressure and once this pressure is released, tension headaches will subside.
Those with a penchant for scientific logic, would find it interesting that when one of the vertebra located in the cervical or neck region of the spine are displaced, it can lead to a compression of the nerve which running close to the border of the vertebra. This compression disturbs the transmission of impulses through the nerve and in turn could lead to tension headaches.
It is more than evident that when this misalignment is corrected by the chiropractic, it can lead to reversal of symptoms and permanent relief from the symptoms associated with tension headaches.
Tension headaches are best addressed using the concept of neurofeedback. The technique is arguably the new buzzword in managing these headaches. This revolutionary method works on the concept of first identifying and understanding the typical brain wave pattern that is associated with your tension headache.
Your family physician can help by advocating an EEG and studying the pattern of brain waves that are associated with the headache. The process is simple, considering that one must be aware of the brain wave pattern and then to work towards moving away from this pattern to ensure instant relief.
If you are one of those who suffer from tension headaches regularly, then you may have developed a resistance to pain killers like ibuprofen and tylenol. In these situations, neurofeedback becomes the preferred option and the results are encouraging.
Herbs and Cure
Although, the west uses celery seeds as a food option, it has been used to treat tension headaches by the Chinese.
One tablespoon of celery seeds are powdered and then mixed with warm water. The mix must be consumed at least twice a day for optimal results.
Willow Bark Relief
When willow bark is boiled with water and the mix consumed several times a day, the results are instantaneous. The only limitation being that people with a bleeding disorder or a kidney disease must avoid this mix as it could prove to be hazardous.
Lemon Balm tea is particularly effective and can be consumed several times a day. This works on the concept of slowing down the sympathetic nervous system and hence can reverse a tension headache.
The Cayenne Wonder
Cayenne is a great natural remedy that can treat and reverse the condition without any side effects. This could be attributed to the fact that cayenne can control the inflammation and treat your pain symptoms very quickly.
Cayenne contains a specific chemical called capsaicin which can inhibit the synthesis of Substance P and hence controls our pain symptoms.
Alternatively, cayenne can be applied locally, topically in the region of the nostrils and the results are equally encouraging.
Peppermint and Pain Killers
One of the most effective options is Peppermint oil. When a 10% peppermint oil mix is applied to the forehead, it can lead to instant relief of symptoms. Studies have now validated that the results are comparable to pain killers.
However, caution must be maintained and ensure that the oil does not enter the eyes.
Foods and Control
Although, opting for a particular diet plan may not cure or eradicate tension headaches, nutritionists believe that there are certain options which can minimize the symptoms. Gluten or wheat allergy is one of the common causes of tension headaches.
When one opts for a diet without wheat or gluten, the probability of contracting tension headaches is low. Concurrently, adopting a diet rich in complex carbohydrates like cereals, rice and pasta invariably helps minimize episodes of tension headaches.
A handful of almonds are all that you need if you have been diagnosed with a tension headache. Almonds are a particularly rich source of salicin. This is a chemical component present in most over the counter pain medications which are prescribed for tension headaches.
Tension headaches are the most common headaches in adults and many people get them at least once a year. The mantra is to identify the cause and prevent future recurrences by avoiding the particular triggers rather than resorting to pain killers.
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