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Tension Headache Prevention: From Short-Term Relief to Long-Term Lifestyle Changes

The tension headache is the most common type of headache and one that is marked by tightness, pain, and discomfort in the head, face, scalp, and neck. Anyone can develop a tension headache, but some go away easier than others with at-home care and medication. Fortunately, there are some effective strategies for tension headache prevention that go beyond the best short-term solutions and focus more on healthy lifestyle habits. Many of the things people habitually and instinctively do affect muscle tension and can result in chronic tension headaches that range from mildly annoying to downright debilitating. This article will discuss how to prevent tension headaches through both short-term relief strategies and long-term lifestyle changes for better overall health.
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Short-Term Relief for Sporadic Tension Headaches

For tension headaches that only occur sporadically and are not part of a chronic pattern with underlying health conditions, many people only require an effective over-the-counter solution. Vanquish is a powerful tension headache medication with a unique formula to fight tough headaches quickly and gently.1,3 Adults and children age 12 and older may take two caplets every six hours for muscle tension headaches, not to exceed eight caplets in 24 hours unless directed by a doctor.

Stretching and Exercises for Chronic Tension Headaches

One great long-term strategy for chronic tension headaches is to incorporate more stretching and exercise into daily routines.5 Some good stretches include grasping the hands behind the back, bringing the chin to the chest to stretch the back of the neck, and very gently pulling the head to one side and then to the other side to stretch the long muscles of the neck. Simple neck rotations in a circular motion and shoulder rolls back and forth are also recommended for chronic tension headache sufferers.5 For exercise, swimming and yoga are wonderful for stretching out tense muscles all over the body and a proactive solution for how to prevent tension headaches.

How to Help Tension Headaches While You Sleep

It is also possible to help prevent tension headaches while you sleep by changing sleeping positions or investing in a more supportive pillow. Shop for an ergonomic cervical support pillow that has structure to it and that isn’t too flimsy or overused. Also, try sleeping on one side with a pillow that is higher in the neck area than the head area to support the spine and reduce headaches.

Ensuring Good Eye Health for Muscle Tension Headaches

Since eye strain is a common cause of recurrent muscle tension headaches, make sure to schedule an eye checkup once per year test for vision changes. The answer to how to help tension headaches may be as simple as getting a pair of glasses or changing an existing prescription.2

Managing Stress for Constant Tension Headaches

A major lifestyle change that can prevent constant tension headaches is managing stress. Daily stresses tend to pile up and collectively establish long-term stresses that really weigh a person down.3,4 Everyone manages stress differently, so it’s important to find a strategy that personally and consistently. To prevent tension headaches, it may help to meditate, go for a long walk, listen to a favorite podcast, or play fetch with the dog in the backyard.4 Just avoid using alcohol as a coping mechanism for stress because regular alcohol use is another common cause for chronic tension headaches.
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References for Tension Headache Prevention: From Short-Term Relief to Long-Term Lifestyle Changes

  1. Altabakhi, I. W., & Zito, P. M. (2018, December 2). Acetaminophen/Aspirin/Caffeine. Retrieved on August 22, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513274/
  2. American Migraine Foundation. Do I Need To Have My Eyes Checked If My Head Hurts? Retrieved on August 19, 2019 from https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/do-i-need-to-have-my-eyes-checked-if-my-head-hurts/
  3. Columbia University Neurology. Help for Tension Headaches. Retrieved on August 22, 2019 from http://www.columbianeurology.org/neurology/staywell/document.php?id=1090
  4. Mayo Clinic. Tension Headache; Diagnosis and Treatment. Retrieved on August 19, 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tension-headache/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353982
  5. Stalbert Physiotherapy. (2019, July 11). Tension Headache Treatment with 4 Simple Stretches. Retrieved on August 22, 2019 from https://stalbertphysiotherapy.com/help-tension-headaches-get-relief-with-these-4-easy-stretches/
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