man with headache from staring at computer screen

An Overview of the Most Common Tension Headache Causes

Medically Reviewed By:

There are many different types of headaches, but some of the most frequent and misunderstood ones are tension headaches. In fact, around 90 percent of all headaches can be classified as tension headaches.4 Yet the answer to what causes tension headaches is not always simple. These headaches can be the result of many different factors, including jaw clenching, caffeine withdrawal, long-term stress, smoking, poor posture, and eye strain. Therefore, it is important to determine what is causing a tension headache in order to alleviate the pain and symptoms. Here is an overview of the possible root causes of tension headaches, as well as how headache sufferers can relieve this pain with powerful over-the-counter remedies.

Jaw Clenching Headaches

Tension headaches can be the result of a jaw issue, especially if a person subconsciously clenches the jaw often or if there is an underlying infection in the ears, nose, or throat. Many people mistakenly believe they have migraines when they actually have severe tension headaches caused by jaw clenching instead.3
Buy On Amazon
To diagnose this issue, a doctor may use a “spray and stretch” technique that involves applying vapocoolant spray on the facial muscles to determine whether the headache responds to this stress headache strategy.7 Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) and grinding of the teeth can also cause jaw clenching headaches.3,7

Caffeine Withdrawal Headaches

Caffeine can help people feel more energized throughout the day, but it can also lead to a caffeine headache when cutting back on this stimulant. Caffeine affects the brain in terms of blood vessel size, adenosine levels, electrical movements in the brain, sleep patterns, and motor skills.1 Tension-related caffeine withdrawal headaches can be minor or severe based on how dependent a person has become upon caffeine.1,6 However, in moderation and in very low doses, such as the dose of caffeine in Vanquish, this stimulant can actually relieve tension headache pain very effectively.6

Stress Tension Headaches

Small daily stresses and prolonged stresses are major tension headache causes. These types of headaches often result in neck pain, pain that fluctuates in severity, and pain that begins above the eyebrows before radiating throughout the entire head. Some effective strategies for taming stress tension headaches include relaxation techniques that involve deep breathing, eating healthy meals regularly, and biofeedback with electrodes to train the body’s muscles to relax before they tighten so much to cause stress tension headaches.5

Eye Strain Headaches

Staring at a computer screen, smartphone, or even print text without easily being able to see it can result in an eye strain headache, which is one of the many tension headache causes.2 To prevent tension-based eyestrain headaches, limit the use of electronic devices throughout the day by taking frequent breaks, moving the eyes in all directions to exercise them, and blinking often to promote the natural production of tears. Adjusting interior lighting, screen brightness, and posture can also reduce a person’s risk of eye strain headache. Vanquish is a highly recommended over-the-counter solution for these various tension headache causes. It’s the perfect combination of pain relief and a low dose of caffeine 4,5 to make tough tension headaches go away quickly and gently. Vanquish® is indicated for tension headaches. If you have a cluster headache, sinus headache, migraine headache or any other type of headache you may want to consult a doctor.
Buy On Amazon

References for An Overview of the Most Common Tension Headache Causes

  1. American Migraine Foundation. Caffeine and Migraine. Retrieved on August 19, 2019 from
  2. American Migraine Foundation. Do I Need To Have My Eyes Checked If My Head Hurts? Retrieved on August 19, 2019 from
  3. Cleveland Clinic. Your Jaw May Be to Blame for Your Migraine Headaches. Retrieved on August 19, 2019 from
  4. Illinois Department of Public Health. Facts About Headaches. Retrieved on August 19, 2019 from
  5. Mayo Clinic. Tension Headache; Diagnosis and Treatment. Retrieved on August 19, 2019 from
  6. National Headache Foundation. Does Caffeine Trigger or Treat Headaches? Retrieved on August 19, 2019 from
  7. University of Utah Health. How To Tell If Your Headaches Are A Jaw Issue. Retrieved on January 19, 2019 from
Back to blog