Tension headaches are believed to be caused primarily by high amounts of stress, and by definition occur at least 15 times per month. This particular type of headache can be especially painful and disruptive, but by recognizing the signs of a tension headache it is possible to stop it at the onset. Some of the classic signs of a tension headache includes pain on the side of the head near the temples. In addition, this pain may also feel like a vise that is squeezing the head tighter and tighter. Additional signs of a tension headache include clenching of the jaw or facial muscles.
One of the most common signs of a tension headache is associated with its area of origin. Typically, tension headaches occur on the sides of the head near the temples. In addition, headaches associated with high amounts of tension often produce pain that is dull and steady. In contrast, pain associated with sinus infections or other similar conditions may cause a pounding or throbbing pain. Finally, while the pain associated with tension headaches may range in severity, it typically always starts gradually, and slowly increases in intensity.
Another common sign of a tension headaches includes a clenched jaw. While a clenched jaw can often lead to more serious and painful tension headaches, recognizing this sign and avoiding or stopping it when it occurs can lead to significantly fewer and less painful tension headaches. Individuals who often experience a clenched jaw prior to the start of a tension headache are often encouraged to practice techniques that can relax these tense muscles. Taking deep breaths, practicing certain facial exercises, and even sucking on an ice cube are great ways to relax the muscles of the face and jaw.
A band of pain around the head is another of the common signs of a tension headache. Many people describe this feeling as though their heads are being locked in a vise, with the vise being squeezed tighter and tighter. This symptom is one of the major ways that tension headaches are differentiated from other types of headaches.
While this tension headaches are quite painful, there are a number of ways to avoid them. Individuals who suffer from tension headaches often are encouraged to avoid foods that have been linked to the development of the condition, including high amounts of chocolate. In addition, adding extra water and other fluids to the diets of those with tension headaches may prove successful.