Symptoms of Tension-Type Headaches
Symptoms of tension-type headaches include a tight feeling around the head, shoulder pain, neck pain, and sometimes even light or noise sensitivity. The pain is typically steady, not throbbing or pulsing.
Tension-type headaches and migraines have similar characteristics, so people tend to think they have migraines when they actually don’t. You can distinguish migraine headaches by these characteristics:
- Pulsating, throbbing pain
- Often affect only one side of the head (tension-type typically affects both sides of the head)
- Often accompanied by nausea/vomiting & sensitivity to light/sound
Head tension episodes are rarely disabling and do not usually require emergency treatment. Chronic headaches, however, can have a negative impact on your quality of life. Many suffering from chronic tension-type headaches can develop depression and anxiety, as is common with other types of chronic pain. Stress can trigger or aggravate these headaches as well. This can create a cycle of worsening headaches.
As headaches become more frequent, treatment with pain relievers can lead to medication overuse headaches, further exacerbating the pain cycle.