Treating Stress Related Headache and Other Headaches

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By Tess Thompson

A headache in medical terminology is pain in the head caused by dilation of cerebral arteries or muscle contractions, or a reaction to drugs. A large majority of headaches are not dangerous to overall health and run their own course. Some of the common causes of headaches are migraine, dehydration, eye strain, low blood sugar, sinusitis and stress. There are certain life-threatening diseases that may also lead to headaches. Some of these include meningitis, encephalitis and brain tumors. Headaches may also occur due to a head injury, and in women it may be related to variation in hormonal levels during or after menstruation.

Stress-related headaches are the most common type of headache, and are normally termed as tension or tension-like headaches. These headaches do not have an underlying disease, but may result from excessive worry about the occurrence of a disease, especially terminal diseases, perceived threats, and other such situations.

If we go by statistics, most headaches do not cause any harm and are self-limiting. Only certain headache syndromes require specific treatment. An unexplained headache may also be the body’s own natural way of indicating that something is wrong somewhere in the body.

Treatment of stress-related headaches is mostly symptomatic and usually managed with over-the counter pain killers like paracetamol, analgesic drugs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen. Stress-related headaches are aggravated by a state of mental stress or activities that lead to muscular tension. If the trigger is clearly identified, managing stress with techniques to deal with the cause usually cures the condition.

  • Sometimes bad posture or a stressful position can cause frequent headaches. Correcting postural flaws usually leads to a permanent cure.
  • If the cause is eye strain, an ophthalmic evaluation and vision-correcting glasses may be required.
  • Muscular tension is best treated with stretching exercises, focusing on the area where stress is felt. Massage therapy, especially targeted at neck and shoulder muscles, is one of the recommended and effective , ways to relieve stress in muscles.
  • Sleep deprivation is another reason behind stress and headaches related to it. A sound sleep is often very good for , stress relief - muscular as well as mental. At the same time, too much sleep can also act as a trigger for headaches.

Taking pain killers simply to get rid of tension headaches is not advisable. Unless it is caused by a vascular or neurological disease, it is better to endure a headache rather than expose yourself to the side effects of the long-term use of pain killers. The side effects may prove to be much more difficult to manage than a nagging stress-related headache.


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