A tension headache is the most common class of headaches, but the causes arestill not fully understood. It includes pain of soft to medium intensity,which is often described by patients as a feeling similar to having a firm belt aroundthe head. Patients often feel that the muscle contractions are accounted forthe pain, but there is no medical proof for that. Therapy of tension headachesincludes the processes of nurturing a healthy lifestyle, proper non-drug treatmentand using the right medications.
Some patients optfor a non-medical treatment. The overuse of over-the-counter(OTC) medications can provoke more headaches.
Both OTC and prescription medications canbe used in relieving the pain.
Nonsteroidalanti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) from the class of analgesics are often the firstchoice for pain therapy. OTC NSAIDs that are often used are Aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, and the most common prescription NSAIDs areindomethacin and ketorolac. Acetaminophen and Aspirin can often provoke overuseheadaches so their are scarcely used. They can be combined with caffeine or asedative drug to gain better results. An analgesic-sedative combination istaken by prescription because they can provoke chronic headaches and addiction.
Triptan is used for patients with a combinationof migraines and episodic tension headaches. Opiates are seldom in use becauseof their side effects and the development of an addiction. Pain medications just alleviatethe symptoms for a limited amount of time, with the passing of time, their effectis lessened and they can even be the cause of headaches. To prevent that, it is advised notto take OTC medications more than nine days a month. One should be carefulabout the possible side effects of every medication.
Preventive medications can lessen the incidenceand severity of the attacks. They can be introduced into the therapy if thepatient encounters chronic pains that are not relieved by standardmedications or non-drug therapy. They can also be prescribed if the painbecomes disabling or acute pain relievers cannot be taken because of variousmedical conditions. Antidepressants can also be used for chronic states, theydo not relieve the pain but rather balance the level of brain chemicals likeserotonin which are sometimes the cause of headaches. The most commonly used preventivemedications are:tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline,nortriptyline) for all types of headache. They have numerous side effects, forexample gaining weight and dizziness.selective serotonin re-uptakeinhibitors (SSRIs) like paroxetine (Paxil), venlafaxine (Effexor) andfluoxetine (Prozac) possess smaller number of side effects than tricyclicantidepressants but they are less efficientanticonvulsants, muscle relaxants
Preventive medicationsneed some time to show their full effect so they should be taken for a coupleof weeks.