Tension Headache

ExitCare ImageA tension headache is pain, pressure, or aching felt over the front and sides of the head. Tension headaches often come after stress, feeling worried (anxiety), or feeling sad or down for a while (depressed).


  • Only take medicine as told by your doctor.

  • Lie down in a dark, quiet room when you have a headache.

  • Keep a journal to find out if certain things bring on headaches. For example, write down:

  • What you eat and drink.

  • How much sleep you get.

  • Any change to your diet or medicines.

  • Relax by getting a massage or doing other relaxing activities.

  • Put ice or heat packs on the head and neck area as told by your doctor.

  • Lessen stress.

  • Sit up straight. Do not tighten (tense) your muscles.

  • Quit smoking if you smoke.

  • Lessen how much alcohol you drink.

  • Lessen how much caffeine you drink, or stop drinking caffeine.

  • Eat and exercise regularly.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Avoid using too much pain medicine.


  • Your headache becomes really bad.

  • You have a fever.

  • You have a stiff neck.

  • You have trouble seeing.

  • Your muscles are weak, or you lose muscle control.

  • You lose your balance or have trouble walking.

  • You feel like you will pass out (faint), or you pass out.

  • You have really bad symptoms that are different than your first symptoms.

  • You have problems with the medicines given to you by your doctor.

  • Your medicines do not work.

  • Your headache feels different than the other headaches.

  • You feel sick to your stomach (nauseous) or throw up (vomit).


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.