A chronic tension headache is a type of stress headache. When you have tension headaches more than 15 days a month, you have chronic tension headaches.
To be diagnosed with chronic tension headaches, you need to have tension headaches for more than 15 days a month, for 6 months.
When you have chronic tension headaches, the pain may get worse or better during the day, but it never really goes away.
While most tension headaches are the result of physical position, physical tiredness or emotional overload, you can also cause chronic headaches by your use of medicine.
Symptoms of a Chronic Tension Headache
To be diagnosed with a chronic tension headache, you need to have at least 2 of these symptoms:
- The headache is mildly to moderately painful
- Pain is felt as pressure, or tightening (not throbbing)
- You do not feel nauseous or vomit
- Pain is located on both sides of your head
- If you sit, stand up, go up and down stairs—your headache remains the same and does not get worse
- You might be sensitive to light or sound—but not both
Stress is the most common cause for these headaches. Here are some specific reasons that you might get stress headaches:
- Position – If you work at a computer or keep your head fixed in one position for long periods of time, this can cause headaches. Poor posture can also cause them.
- Fatigue – If you don’t get enough sleep, work extra long hours, have eyestrain from looking at your computer, exercise too long or you are hungry—you can get tension headaches.
- Emotional – People under emotional stress, working under stressful conditions, having relationship problems, or people who are feeling depressed or anxious, are prone to chronic tension headaches.
- Rebound headaches – While not technically a stress headache, rebound headaches are caused by improper use of medications. If you have frequent, severe headaches and take take medicine to relieve them, you can get this kind of headache.
Here’s how it works. A rebound headache occurs when the pain medication wears off. Because of the pain, you take more medication. This cycle continues, and, as you build up tolerance for the medication, the headaches become more frequent and more severe.
If you find yourself in this position, you should consult your doctor to help you get off the medicine.
Tension type headaches are fairly common, and most are preventable. However, if you don’t reduce your stress, tension or stress headaches can become chronic tension headaches.
In addition, if you need a little help, there are some very effective self-hypnosis programs on the market, and even a simple relaxation program can help you get relax at the end of a hectic day.