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Managing tension headaches

Tension headaches are the most common types of headaches brought about by muscular contractions in the head and neck regions. They can be mild or moderate which cause agonizing pain in both sides of the head, neck and behind the eyes. It feels like a tight band around the forehead.

People suffering from tension headaches experience episodic pains which happen 1 or 2 times every month and can also be chronic. Women are more susceptible to tension headaches than men.

Causes of tension headaches

  • Staring at a computer screen for prolonged periods of time
  • Certain foods and activities
    tension headaches

    Tenderness can be felt around the forehead and scalp.

  • Driving for long hours
  • Cold temperatures
  • Eye strain and dry eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Smoking
  • Common cold or flu
  • Sinus infection
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Emotional stress
  • Poor posture


  • Pressure around the forehead
  • Dull pain in the head
  • Tenderness can be felt around the forehead and scalp
  • Pain can be mild or moderate but can become severe
  • Sensitivity to light and loud noises


  • Take over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium and aspirin to lessen the pain due to tension headaches.
  • Once the person has a tension headache, there is sensitivity to sound and light. This can be remedied by resting in a dark and quiet room. Close the eyes and relax the back, neck and shoulders. Turn off sources of noise such as a computer, cellphone and television. Another alternative is closing the eyes and cup with the palm of the hands and apply gentle pressure for at least 2 minutes. This will shut down the optic nerves and help relax the body.
  • Perform deep breathing exercises to relax any stress in the body. Close the eyes and take plenty of deep breaths and exhale slowly to relax areas in the body that feels tight. Drop the chin toward the chest and slowly rotate the head in a half circle from side to side. Take another deep breath and exhale slowly. Continue this exercise until the body is in the state of relaxation.
  • Apply a hot or cold compress on the head to lessen the pain and tension of the muscles in the neck and head. A warm compress can be placed at the back of the neck or on the forehead.
  • Using the fingertips, rub the back and sides of the head and gently massage areas under the eyes. Move the scalp lightly back and forth using the fingertips.
  • Perform exercises regularly to release stress and tension in the body and produce endorphins in the brain that eliminates pain. Perform 30 minutes of walking, running or biking at least 3 times every week.
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep at night to prevent tension headaches.


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