Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Stress Headaches

ave you been to your doctor lately complaining about that unexplained bout of headaches or body pain? Only to be told that there's nothing wrong. Well, it could be work-related stress that is causing aches, depression and other health problems say health experts.

A survey conducted by India's industry body Assocham has revealed that "the menace of stress and mental fatigue has intensified in recent times at the top and middle positions of sectors comprising construction, shipping, banks, government hospitals, trading houses, electronic and print media, courier companies, small-scale industries, retail and card franchise companies".

As more of the Indian workforce rushes to catch up with the deadlines, the boundary between home and work is becoming blurred. As the work hours stretch and more and more jobs entail odd work hours, the stress levels among the Indian workers is increasing in an alarming way causing many health problems……

Well stress leads to a certain type of headache known as “Tension Headaches”
What are tension headaches??

What's in a name?

"Tension headaches" was first used to suggest that these headaches were the result of psychological stress and tension. Since they are not psychological in nature, that's misleading. "Muscle contraction" was used because increased activity of the pericranial muscles (pertaining to the periosteum of the skull, the periosteum being the fibrous membrane that lines the skull.) is so often involved. When researchers realized that was true just as often in episodes of migraine disorder, the use of "muscle contraction headache" was pretty much abandoned, and the term "tension-type headache" came into use.

"Tension-type" headaches, or tension headaches, are the most common type of headache. About 30% to 80% of adults occasionally experience this kind of headache. Tension headaches are more common among women than men. These headaches are sometimes called stress headaches, muscle contraction headaches, daily headaches, or chronic non-progressive headaches.

Tension headaches usually begin gradually and often occur in the middle of the day. A tension headache may occur on an episodic basis (less than 15 days per month) or on a chronic basis (daily or more than 15 days per month). Most people with episodic tension headaches have them no more than once or twice a month, but the headaches can occur more frequently.

What Causes Tension Headaches?

There is no single cause for tension headaches. This type of headache is not an inherited trait that runs in families. In some people, tension headaches are caused by tightened muscles in the back of the neck and scalp. In others, tightened muscles are not part of tension headaches, and the cause is unknown.

Tension headaches are usually triggered by some type of environmental or internal stress. The most common sources of stress include family, social relationships, friends, work and school.

Episodic tension headaches are usually triggered by an isolated stressful situation or a build-up of stress. Daily stress can lead to chronic tension headaches.

What Are the Symptoms?

In mild to moderate tension headaches, there is a constant, band-like pain or pressure that lasts from 30 minutes to all day. Tension headaches tend to be moderate or mild and are rarely severe. Unlike migraines they are not usually unilateral, throbbing or associated with light and sound sensitivity or nausea and vomiting. Other features of tension headaches may include:

  • Headache upon awakening
  • General muscle aches
  • Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Disturbed concentration
  • Mild sensitivity to light or noise
  • Occasional dizziness

Chemical changes

Researchers now believe that tension headache may result from changes among certain brain chemicals — serotonin, endorphins and numerous other chemicals — that help nerves communicate. These are similar to biochemical changes associated with migraine. Although it's not clear why the chemical levels fluctuate, the process is thought to activate pain pathways to the brain and to interfere with the brain's ability to suppress the pain. On one hand, tight muscles in the neck and scalp may contribute to a headache in someone with altered chemical levels. On the other hand, the tight muscles may be a result of these chemical changes.

Another chemical in the body that may play a role in tension headache is nitric oxide, which is involved in the transmission of nerve impulses. Overproduction of nitric oxide has been linked to chronic tension headache and migraine. And substances that block the production of nitric oxide have been shown to reduce the muscle tightness associated with tension headache.

Because both tension headache and migraine involve similar changes in brain chemicals, some researchers believe that the two types of headache are related. A majority of people diagnosed as having migraine also get an occasional tension headache, and a quarter of people diagnosed with tension headache get occasional migraine. Some experts speculate that migraine may develop from the regular occurrence of tension headache. The distinctive migraine features form as the pain becomes more severe. Other research suggests that mild migraine is in reality a type of tension headache.

How Are Tension Headaches Treated?

Treatment for this type of headache usually includes nonprescription pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Prescription medications (antidepressants like Diazepam) may be needed in some cases.

Therapies such as stress management or biofeedback may be used in an effort to reduce or prevent tension headaches.

14:30, 4th June

1 comment:

Atlanta Plastic Surgeons said...

Goos that you posted this.Not many would know about it though facing these symptoms often.I think the rising stress levels of life are also responsible for such conditions.

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