Tension-type headache is the most common type of headache and is characterized by a dull pain and tightness in the head, neck and shoulders on both sides. It may be either episodic (30 minutes to a week) or chronic (more than 15 days a month for three months), but does not usually affect activities of daily living. It is more common in women.
The exact cause of tension headaches is not known, but it may be due to an increased sensitivity to stress. Poor posture, eye strain, dehydration, bright sunlight or missed meals are some of the triggers of tension headaches.
Tension headaches are usually diagnosed with a thorough physical examination and neurological tests that study the characteristics and location of your headaches. If your headaches have an unusual pattern, imaging tests such as CT or MRI may be performed to rule out underlying causes such as a tumor or injury.
Tension headaches may be treated by making appropriate lifestyle changes and avoiding triggers. Relaxation techniques such as massage, yoga and exercise may be suggested. Your doctor may prescribe simple pain relievers or muscle relaxants to treat headaches. If your headaches are frequent or severe, your doctor may prescribe medications to be taken on a regular basis to prevent such headaches.