This topic is about finding and avoiding triggers for tension headaches. For information on finding and avoiding triggers for migraine headaches, see Migraines: Finding and Avoiding Triggers.
You can have fewer
headaches—and less pain when you do get them—by finding out what things, or
triggers, bring on your headaches. You can try to avoid triggers to
prevent tension headaches. To prevent headaches:
tension headaches include:
You may have one or more triggers from the above list. Or you may have other triggers.
Skipping meals, leaning over your computer for hours
at a time, and stressful life events can all trigger tension
A trigger is anything that can lead to a
headache and symptoms of tense muscles and pain in your head, neck, forehead,
and temples. Triggers vary from person to person and from headache to headache
in the same person.
Continue to Why?
Finding out what triggers your headaches can
help you avoid those things. That will help you have fewer headaches and have less
pain when you do get a headache.
Avoiding headache triggers can help you
prevent tension headaches.
Finding your triggers helps you avoid the
trigger and reduce the number of headaches you
Continue to How?
Use a headache diary(What is a PDF document?) to find your headache
triggers. Keeping track of what you
do every day—the foods you eat, the stress you feel, the
weather, and other things—can help you find a
pattern to your headaches. This helps you know what to avoid to
To avoid your triggers, try to:
Keeping a daily headache diary is not helpful for
Keeping a headache diary can help you
find triggers such as stress, lack of sleep,
and hormone changes. Finding and avoiding triggers can
reduce how many headaches you get and how bad they
Continue to Where?
Now that you have read this
information, you are ready to start finding and avoiding
tension headache triggers.
If you have questions about
this information, print it out and take it with you when
you visit your doctor. You may want to use a highlighter to mark areas or make
notes in the margins of pages where you have questions.
headache diary with you when you visit your doctor. Be sure to let your doctor
know if you have changes in your symptoms.
Talk with your doctor about what might be triggering your headaches.
Discuss ways that you can avoid those triggers.
Return to topic:
July 7, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
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