How to prevent tension headaches

by Dr. Chi
Jun 01, 2018

It is estimated that 80 percent of the adult population in the United States suffers from occasional tension headaches, making them the most common type of headache in the country. About 3 percent of this population suffers from chronic daily tension headaches.  For many people, a chronic headache can make it hard to concentrate at work, cause trouble when trying to get quality sleep, put you in a bad mood, and disturb the quality of life.

Causes and Prevention 

Tension headaches can feel like an uncomfortable pressure of tightness around the entire head. The causes of tension headaches are not well understood, and can occur almost daily. Tension headaches, unlike migraines, are not caused by genes. The leading cause of this type of headache is stress. Depression, poor posture, and lack of enough rest can make them worse.

Tension headaches can be avoided. You may not be able to prevent all of them, but you can improve your lifestyle to minimize the frequency of your headaches. Here are some of the strategies that can help you tame the tension headaches if you experience them frequently, say more than once or twice a week.

Reduce Stress to Relieve Tension

Our lives can be stressing, causing us a lot of tension from work, school, home, etc. Some of us hold tension without even knowing it. As a result, we develop tension headaches and don’t even do anything about it — perhaps just doing self-medicating with Over-the-Counter drugs (OTC) — because we think it’s normal. Avoid getting stressed unnecessarily and lower your stress levels. Reducing stress will help you relieve all the tension in your mind and consequently reduce your tension headaches.

Improve Your Posture

Stress mostly causes tension headaches, but poor posture can worsen the headaches. Poor alignment affects the muscles in the neck and back, so it has the potential to create tension headaches as well. Standing up in good posture relieves some of the stress, while yoga can be a good way of reducing tension caused by poor posture.


Exercise can boost the number of happy hormones your body is releasing. The release of happy hormones in your body can force the balance of cortisol and even stop further production of the hormone. Too much cortisol in the body for an extended period depletes adrenal glands which can lead to headaches and backaches.

Get a Good Night Sleep

Besides stress, inadequate sleep is the most significant cause of tension headaches. Lack of sufficient rest starts putting pressure on various elements in your body. Also, lack of a good sleep leads to the production of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, and other bad hormones in the body. Your body will not be able to carry the tension in its muscles because they haven’t had a chance to repair and relax overnight. Get enough sleep to prevent the development of these headaches.

Additionally, check what you eat. Limiting the amount of sugar and caffeine you consume on a daily basis can help you prevent tension headaches. A lifestyle change is the only sustainable form of treatment for tension headaches.



The Service offers health, fitness and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.

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