The exact causes of tension headaches are not known, but there are many factors that may contribute to them. Keep reading to discover the various potential reasons for tension headaches.
Signs of tension headaches
When someone complains of a headache, they’re likely suffering from a tension-type headache — your common, “everyday” headaches that produce a dull, squeezing pain often described as a band around the head.i,ii
Tension-type headaches may last any where from 30 minutes to several days.i Tension headaches may be episodic or chronic. Episodic tension headaches occur on fewer than 15 days a month. If they’re happening more frequently than 15 days per month, for at least three months, they’re classified as chronic tension headaches.ii
Tension headaches often come on gradually, and typically occur in the middle of the day.iii It’s estimated that 30 to 80 percent of adults in the United States experience episodic tension headaches, while three percent experience chronic ones. Women are twice as likely to experience tension headaches as men.iii
Can stress cause headaches?
In most cases, there is no obvious or single cause for tension-type headaches. In some people headaches may be brought on by a buildup of stress from everyday situations, such as a demanding work schedule, a rough commute, screaming children, financial struggles, and relationship problems. That’s why they’ve earned the nickname “stress headaches”.iii
And once a headache strikes, noise, glare, fatigue, or stress can exacerbate the pain.iv