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Posted June 12, 2023 by Jeannie Gombaski, APRN, CNP
Headaches, the most common health complaint, can be just that — a real pain. While headaches typically aren’t dangerous, they can cause severe discomfort and disrupt daily life.
Pain, pressure or aching from headaches can occur in the forehead, temples and the back of the neck. The pain can range from mild to severe and last anywhere from 30 minutes to a week. In most cases, a headache is not a symptom of an underlying condition. Instead, primary headaches may be due to overactivity of blood vessels, muscles, nerves or brain chemicals.
While there are more than 100 different kinds of headaches, the most common type are tension headaches. Tension headaches strike when the muscles in the head and neck tighten. Typically, people feel the pain spread across both sides of their head, often starting in the back and creeping forward. It’s often described as feeling like a tight band around the head.
There are many factors that trigger a tension headache. Summa Health describes common causes of tension headaches and what you can do to head off the pain. After all, when you know what’s causing your pain, it’s much easier to prevent it.
It seems simple enough: To prevent headaches, avoid the triggers that cause them. However, avoiding triggers takes careful planning and requires you to pay close attention to your environment and lifestyle.
One way to achieve this goal is by keeping a headache journal. It can help you track patterns and identify triggers. Jot down the day and time of onset, your symptoms and any activity before the headache began.
Journaling this information can help you pinpoint possible causes so you can develop a plan to avoid triggers and reduce frequency of headaches, if not prevent them, and bring you long-awaited relief.
Most people can feel much better by making lifestyle changes, practicing relaxation techniques and taking over-the-counter pain relievers, as needed. However, if your headaches are increasing in frequency or severity, and are interfering with your usual daily activities, it’s time to talk to your primary care doctor about a treatment plan.To learn more or schedule an appointment with a Summa Health primary care provider, visit summahealth.org/primarycare.