Is My Tension Headache Serious? How Do I Know?

by John Blachford - Date: 2007-01-21 - Word Count: 349 Share This!

Muscles in the back of the head and scalp tighten which decreases blood flow into the head and leads to irritation of the pain fibers in the skin, muscles and walls of the blood vessels. Generalized pain is often felt in the head and neck but can also feel like a band around the head. Normally the onset of the attack is more gradual than that of a migraine and can last hours, days, weeks or months.

Tension headaches (easily the most common type of headache) can be triggered by a number of factors, but the most common are:

* Stress

* Tiredness

* Muscle tightness / strain

* Certain foods

* Anxiety

* Depression

* Menstruation

* Tobacco and alcohol use

Headaches can be hereditary so it is worth talking to your family members to find out what their triggers and cures are.

How do I know if it is serious?

Most headaches although painful and very unpleasant, are not serious. If however, you have any of the following symptoms then you should go to your medical practitioner immediately:

* A sudden "thunderclap" headache. One that builds in intensity in seconds or minutes and rapidly becomes the worst headache you have ever experienced.

* Convulsions (fits).

* Headaches that follow a recent fall or blow to the head.

* Headaches that are persistent and that are accompanied by memory loss, difficulty in concentrating and tiredness.

* Sudden, severe headache that is accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

*Extreme neck stiffness with a high fever.

* Headaches that are accompanied by weakness or numbness in any extremity (arms or legs) or on one side of the body, visual disturbances, trouble with coordination, impaired speech, confusion or behavioral changes.

Now you don't need to rush off to the emergency room every time you get a headache, but if it comes on more severely than normal or if you start to get symptoms as described above then do something about it. Certainly do something if your normal headache carries on worsening over a couple of days.

The rule of thumb here is, if you are worried about it, get it checked out. Your doctor is not going to shout at you for time wasting.

Related Tags: headache, frequent headache, eye strain, severe headaches, headache migraine, neck headache

John Blachford is an Osteopath with years of experience in the field of headaches. For further information on how to rid yourself of headaches go to

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