Chronic headaches that are tension related are probably one of the worst headaches that one could imagine. You are suffering from such headaches when you have tension headaches that last for hours and are continuous for more than 15 days. This can be a period of more than 3 months and for some people, the headaches can strike almost everyday.
Tension headaches that are occuring for less than 15 days in a month are not considered as chronic headaches, but are otherwise known as episodic tension-type headaches. Tension headaches are by far the most common type of primary headaches, with approximately 78 percent of the general population experiencing them sometime in their lives.
A study has shown that an estimated 40 percent of people with tension headaches have experienced at least a headache within the past year. On top of this, most people who are suffering from tension headaches will experience headache once or twice each month with moderate intensity pain. If these headaches are left untreated for an extended period of time, the likelihood of developing chronic headaches becomes two fold. Similar to migraine, a tension headache is more commonly experienced by women than men.
An interesting trend was also spotted in a large U.S. study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. With this, it is said that men and women with higher levels of education were more likely to experience tension-type headaches. On the other hand, an opposite trend has been found in migraines. Interesting enough, people with lower socioeconomic levels seem to experience higher migraine occurences.
With chronic tension-type headaches, the pain is often described as a tight band encircling the top of the head with mild to moderate severity. You can easily differentiate this chronic headache from migraine and cluster headache since it is felt on both sides of the head and you will also not feel nausea.
At times, tension chronic headaches sufferers may also experience hypersensitivity to sound or light. This may sound similar to having migraines but take note that in a tension chronic headache, you will usually experience only one of of these symptoms. This is unlike migraine sufferers who will usually experience both the symptoms together.
A typical tension headache can last from 30 minutes to 7 days with at least 2 of the following characteristics:
- Routine physical activity will not worsen it
- Mild to moderate intensity
- Both sides of the head or bilateral
- Tightness or pressure like pain
In some cases, tension headaches sufferers may also feel that their heads are tender to touch. This is otherwise known as the pericranial tenderness. Pain may also be felt at the back of the neck as well as at the base of the skull.
Extra care must be taken when you are experiencing more than 2 of the above characteristics with longer headache episodes each time. Without proper treatment, this can easily develop into to chronic headaches which can have tremendous effect to your quality of life. The headache itself can cause sleep problems, difficulties in concentrating, irritability as well as fatigue.
If you suspect that you are suffering from tension headaches, seek help from professionals immediately before they got worse. Otherwise, treating chronic headaches can easily become an expensive and time-consuming affair which can easily affect your life and work.