Tension Headache Symptoms

Common symptoms of tension headaches include a dull, aching tightness or pressure in the head that is usually mild to moderate in severity. In some people, the pain may be severe. Besides pain, tension headache symptoms can also include loss of appetite, insomnia, and irritability. Left untreated, a tension headache may last for hours or a day or two.

An Overview of Tension Headache Signs and Symptoms

Tension headaches (also known as tension-type headache or stress headache) affect some 2-3 percent of people on a chronic basis, with twice as many women affected as men. A tension headache is named not only for the role of stress in triggering the pain, but also for the contraction of neck, face, and scalp muscles brought on by stressful events.
 

Specific Symptoms of Tension Headaches

Symptoms include a dull, aching tightness or pressure in the head that is usually mild to moderate in severity. Often, this pain is described as a tight band around the head or a feeling that the head and neck are in a cast or vice. In some people, the pain may be moderate to severe in intensity. The severity of pain can vary from person to person and from one headache to another within the same person.
 
The pain of a tension headache is usually felt on both sides of the head either towards the front or on the sides. In some cases, the pain may only be on one side. Neck and shoulder muscles may also be tight.
 
Besides pain, other symptoms of a tension headache may include:
 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating.
     

Are Migraine and Tension Headache Symptoms the Same?

Tension headaches and migraines are considered separate conditions, and each tends to have separate symptoms (see Migraine Symptoms). However, some people have symptoms that exhibit both. This means that for a person with tension headaches, symptoms of migraines may also be present, including nausea and vision or hearing changes. With tension headaches, however, there is no pre-headache syndrome ("aura"), as there can be with certain types of migraines.
 
 
Know the Signs - Concussion Safety

Tension Headache

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