How Do You Get Rid of a Pressure Headache?

Reviewed on 4/28/2021

A pressure headache (tension headache) is the most common type of headache with symptoms such as pressure or tightness on both sides of the head. Tension headaches can happen randomly (episodic) or chronically. Treatment can include rest, ice, heat, massage, biofeedback, pain relievers, and antidepressant medication.
A pressure headache (tension headache) is the most common type of headache with symptoms such as pressure or tightness on both sides of the head. Tension headaches can happen randomly (episodic) or chronically. Treatment can include rest, ice, heat, massage, biofeedback, pain relievers, and antidepressant medication.

The most common form of headache is a pressure headache (also called a tension headache), which causes pressure or tightness on both sides of the head. 

There are two main types of pressure headaches

  • Episodic 
    • Happens randomly 
    • Often triggered by stress, fatigue, anxiety, or anger
    • May go away after taking over-the-counter pain relievers, removing the source of stress, or a period of relaxation
  • Chronic

Treatment to get rid of a pressure headache may include: 

What Are Symptoms of Pressure Headaches?

Pressure headaches (tension headaches) usually cause mild to moderate pain and pressure in the forehead, temples, or the back of head and/or neck. 

Symptoms of pressure headaches include head pain that:

  • Is dull, aching, and not throbbing 
  • Affects both sides of the head
  • Feels like a “vice-like” tightening band-like sensation around the neck and/or head
  • Is not usually severe

Other symptoms that may accompany a chronic pressure headache include: 

What Causes Pressure Headaches?

Pressure headaches (tension headaches) may be caused by:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Withdrawal from caffeine/suddenly stopping medications that contain caffeine
  • Lack of sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Anger
  • Hunger
  • Changes in weather
  • Certain foods and drinks, such as chocolate, processed foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG), and alcohol
  • Depression

How Are Pressure Headaches Diagnosed?

The cause of pressure headaches (tension headaches) is diagnosed with a patient history, a physical exam, and tests such as: 

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Reviewed on 4/28/2021
References
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/causes-of-headaches

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/tension-type-headache-in-adults-acute-treatment?search=headache%20treatment%27&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1

https://headaches.org/2007/10/25/tension-type-headache/