Tension Headache Diagnosis

When making a tension headache diagnosis, your doctor will ask several questions about the frequency of your headaches, your symptoms, and possible headache triggers. Your doctor will also perform an exam that may point to other possible causes of the headache.

An Overview of Diagnosing Tension Headaches

In order to make a diagnosis of tension headaches, your healthcare provider will begin by asking a number of questions, including questions about:
 
  • The headache, such as how often you have headaches or where the pain is
  • Other symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, vision or other hearing problems, weight loss, fever or chills, runny nose, tearing, and shortness of breath
  • Possible triggers
  • Conditions that make the headache better
  • Any symptoms that might occur before the headache begins
  • Any medical conditions, including high blood pressure (hypertension), glaucoma, or shingles 
  • Any medicines that you are taking
  • A family history of headaches
  • Any personal history of headaches
  • Any recent trauma.
     
He or she will also perform a physical exam, looking for any signs that may point to other possible causes of the headaches (see Causes of Headaches).
 

Tests Used When Making a Diagnosis of Tension Headaches

There are no tests that are routinely recommended to help diagnose tension headaches. However, depending on your particular situation, your healthcare provider may recommend certain tests to help rule out other headache causes. This may include a blood test, imaging tests (such as an MRI or CT scan), or vision tests.
 
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Tension Headache

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