Top 10 Tips for Treating Tension Headaches

Jan 18, 2023

Top 10 Tips for Treating Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are the most common form of headaches. However, many adults are unaware of how to minimize their discomfort and avoid more serious health issues.


About 70% of adults experience tension headaches, according to the World Health Organization. For most, these events are relatively brief and mild, but they can become chronic and disabling for about 1% to 3% of patients.


If you notice a pain that starts at the back of your head and moves forward or you feel like a tight band is squeezing your forehead, you’re probably having a tension headache. Try these suggestions for preventing and treating your symptoms.



Preventing Tension Headaches


  1. Manage stress. Stress causes headaches, and headaches cause more stress. Break the cycle by learning to relax with yoga, meditation, a long walk, or a warm bath.

  2. Adjust your position. Another common cause is staying still too long working online or watching TV. Schedule a break each half-hour to move around. Check that you’re sitting up straight.

  3. Avoid overexertion. On the other hand, overdoing it at the gym can also bring on a headache. Increase the intensity of your workouts gradually, especially if you’ve been sedentary for a while.
  4. Prepare for sleep. Late nights and cold bedrooms can make your head hurt. Go to bed at the same time each night and set your thermostat around 65 to 70 degrees.
  5. Eat a snack. Skipping meals is another culprit. Munch on hummus and carrots or have a cup of yogurt before you start feeling too hungry.

  6. Limit alcohol and caffeine. Consume alcohol and caffeine in moderation. That means about one cocktail a day for women and two for men.

  7. Identify trigger foods. Many common foods have been associated with headaches including chocolate, cheese, and nuts. See if you can find relief by switching to more soy products like tofu, edamame, and soy milk.
  8. Drink water. It’s also important to stay hydrated. Carry around a water bottle you can sip from any time.

  9. Understand hormones. Women are more likely to have tension headaches, and menopause and menstrual periods can aggravate the symptoms. Use a calendar to see if you can find a pattern.

  10. Quit smoking. Nicotine worsens any headache by narrowing blood vessels and stimulating nerves. It’s one more good reason to give up cigarettes.


Getting rid of tension headaches can often mean treating the root cause, which can be as simple as learning how to cope with stress. By the same token, getting adequate sleep and exercise, applying heat or cold, massaging the affected areas of the head and neck, and avoiding eyestrain, can help.

Tension headaches and the overuse of medication can interfere with your health and ability to enjoy life. Try relaxing and adjusting your daily routine, and talk with your doctor if you need more assistance.


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