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Woman holding her head up to her forehead in pain due to headache

Taming the Tension Headache

When you think of the upcoming holidays – the parties, the relatives, the gift exchanges, the cleaning – does your stress level zoom to 10? If so, you may be warming up for a 4-alarm tension headache. A tension headache is the most common headache and is a band-like pain felt on both sides of the head, across the forehead or at the temples. Unlike migraines, tension headaches don’t usually come with light, sound and movement sensitivity and nausea. But, like migraines, they can last for hours, days or weeks and can be chronic.

“A tension headache that occurs more than 15 days a month for 3 months in a row is considered chronic,” said Advance ER physician Dr. Ron Bryce. “If you’ve been suffering from headaches, if you suddenly have a severe headache, or if you have a headache accompanied by fever, chills, stiff neck, confusion, vision problems, weakness or head injury, come to the ER right away. Your condition could indicate something more serious is going on.”

What causes my tension headache?

Your tension headache may be caused by any of a number of triggers including: environmental factors, food allergy, stress, dietary changes, lack of sleep, work, jaw clenching, eye strain, smoking, alcohol, caffeine, sinus infection, or fatigue.

“The #1 cause of tension headaches is stress,” said Dr. Bryce. “If you can reduce or better manage your stress, you should see a reduction in the amount of headaches you have.”

Try these 3 prevention techniques for tension headaches:

  1. Relaxation techniques – try listening to a relaxation recording, such as ocean sounds, and rest in a quiet place. As you rest, focus on relaxing each muscle group, starting with your toes and progressing to your head. Deep breathing is also a great place to start. Helpful biofeedback techniques can be researched online or at the library.
  1. Healthy lifestyle – make sure you are getting enough sleep each night. Don’t skip meals but strive to consistently eat a healthy diet and avoid caffeine, sugar, alcohol and smoking. Drink plenty of water.
  1. Exercise – exercise is often helpful in preventing recurring tension headaches. Yoga is one easily-accessible form that is designed to release stress while encouraging flexibility and strength.

“If you’ve tried these techniques and you’re still having headaches, make an appointment to be seen by your physician,” said Dr. Bryce. “If you are depressed or struggling with anxiety, tell your doctor right away. Don’t wait for the stress of the holidays to escalate your condition.”

What if I need a specialist?

Once you have been examined at Advance ER by your board-certified physician, a neurologist or other specialist may be needed. Advance ER is one of the first freestanding ERs to have a neurologist co-managing headaches by the bedside. We have the resources you need to work toward finding from your tension headaches. Our revolutionary SPECIALIST NOWSM program gives you the specialist advantage at no additional office charge from the specialist.

Where is Advance ER?

Advance ER is available in two locations for your convenience:
Advance ER – Galleria Area

12338 Inwood Road Dallas, TX 75244

Advance ER – Park Cities

5201 W Lovers Lane Dallas, TX 75209

*Access to specialists through Advance ER’s SPECIALIST NOWSM program is contingent on the specialist’s availability.

Meet Dr. Ron Bryce:

Ron Bryce, M.D., is board-certified in family practice. Dr. Bryce received his medical degree from Oral Roberts University School of Medicine, Tulsa, OK. He completed his residency at John P. Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, TX.

Experienced with providing both emergency and routine care for patients of all ages, Dr. Bryce believes in keeping the lines of communication open with his patients and in treating them like family.