Introduction

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:

  • Use a headache diary (What is a PDF document?) to find your triggers.
  • Manage stress.
  • Seek treatment if you have depression or anxiety. They can lead to headaches.
  • Sleep, exercise, and eat on a regular schedule.
  • Practice good posture to reduce neck strain.
  • Reduce eye strain from computers at work and at home.
  • Don't clench your jaw. Clenching can cause muscle tension in your face.

How do you find and avoid headache triggers?

Finding your headache triggers

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 prevent headaches.

Avoiding your headache triggers

To avoid your triggers, try to:

  • Get regular exercise. If you do have a headache while you exercise, write down the activity you were doing. Avoid very hard exercise. This can trigger a tension headache.
  • Keep regular sleep patterns. Sleeping too much or too little can trigger headaches. If you do get a headache when your sleep pattern has changed, this may be a trigger that you can control.
  • Eat healthy food on a regular schedule. This may help prevent headaches. Going a long time without eating can trigger a headache.
  • Get treatment if you have depression and anxiety. These health problems can cause headaches.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Karin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine

Current as ofOctober 14, 2016