Tension Headaches (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Exams and Tests
Finding out the type of headache you have
A doctor can usually diagnose tension headaches by asking you questions about your health and lifestyle and by examining you.
It can be hard to know which type of headache you have, because different types can have the same symptoms. But the treatments may be different, so it's important to find out which type you have. For more information, see Symptoms.
Finding other possible causes
In very rare cases, headaches can be caused by more serious health problems (such as brain tumors or aneurysms). But most headaches aren't caused by anything serious, so you probably won't need to have tests. For more information, see:
You can treat most tension headaches with:
Over-the-counter medicines to stop headaches
Prescription medicines to stop headaches
In some cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger medicine if over-the-counter drugs don't stop your headaches. These medicines may include barbiturates or narcotics. But these drugs can be habit-forming, so they should be used rarely and only for a short time.
Prescription medicines to prevent headaches
You may want to try medicine to prevent a headache if:
Your doctor may have you try one or more medicines, such as an antidepressant or a medicine that prevents seizures. These medicines can help prevent headaches even if you don't have depression or seizures. For more information, see Medications.
How you think can affect how you feel. So finding ways to relax and think in a positive way may help prevent headaches.
You may want to try:
For more information, see Living With Tension Headaches.
Treatment if headaches get worse
If you continue to have tension headaches while you are getting treatment, you and your doctor may want to try another treatment.
You may have to try different drugs or doses. If you have already tried several medicines, your doctor may order tests (such as an MRI or CT scan) to find out if a health problem is causing your headaches.
Other things to think about
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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