Most human beings in their life time has experienced headache at some point of their lifetime. When people discuss about headache, they discuss about the most common type – tension headache or stress headache. Various studies opine that, 70% of the population has been affected with episodic tension type headache. Tension headache typically starts at the age of 15. Often females are diagnosed more than males.

What is tension headache?

Tension headache is the most common type of headache which characterized with diffuse mild to moderate pain in the head. Typically people complain about tight banded pain in the neck. Tension headaches can be managed with healthy diet, correcting life style and use of appropriate medicines.

Tension headaches can be episodic where it occurs once or twice in a month. It can occur in form of chronic headache when it lasts for more than 15days.


Tension headache generally happens in two forms:

  • Episodic Tension type headache (ETTH)
  • Chronic Tension type headache (CTTH)

Episodic Tension headache last for 30 minutes to a week duration varying from individuals. Frequency may happen less than 15 days a month, at least for 3 months. Continuous occurrence of ETTH, may gradually lead to chronic tension type headache.

Chronic tension headaches troubles for more than 15days a month and can last up to 3 months. What is the difference between Tension headaches and Migraines?


Tension Headache

Migraine Headache

  • Pain is generally musculoskeletal origin
  • Migraine headaches are of neurological nature
  • Pain occurs both side of head
  • Pain occurs one-sided
  • The common symptoms include pressure and tightness
  • Pain throbs with pulsating nature
  • Increases with noise sensitivity
  • Increases with light sensitivity


The actual cause of tension headaches is not clear. But physicians believe tension headache occurs due to the muscle contractions in the face, neck and scalp. These muscle contractions may happen due to stress, anxiety, depression or any head injury.
When the head is held in a static position for a long time, without any movement can cause headache. Eg: Typing works in the computer, fine arts with hands, long time work with microscopes; sleep with head in wrong position etc. Theories also opine, people suffering from tension headaches have high sensitivity to pain.
Other triggering factors include:
• Physical or emotional stress
• Excess use of alcohol
• Too much intake of caffeine or as a withdrawal to caffeine
• Sinus infections, cold or flu
• People who has experience jaw clenching or teeth grinding
• When the eyes get strain
• Due to dry eyes
• Uncontrolled smoking
• Fatigue or Over exerting the body
• Following wrong sitting or sleeping posture
• Decreased intake of fluids
• Lack of sound sleep
• Irregular food habits or skipping meals
• Squinting
• Dehydration
• Total absence of physical activity
• Sensitivity to certain smells
• Intolerance to loud noises

Most coming symptoms of tension headaches are:
• Muscle tightening in the head and neck
• Pain behind the eyes
• Dull aching pain
• Pressure around the forehead
• Intolerance to noises


Ayurveda explains the imbalance of pitta and vata. Due to the various causes the vata and pitta doshas increases in the body leading to headaches.
Ayurvedic treatments for tension headache
• Oil massage can be done over scalp, neck and shoulder. This helps to relive the tightness and stress in these regions. Oils like Bala ashwagandha taila, Mahanaryana taila, Dhanwantaram taila are helpful.
• Nasya can be instilled with anu taila or ksheerabala or ksheerabala 101. It also strengthens the nerves and muscles in neck and head.
• Shirodhara with Ksheerabala taila, Mahanaryana taila, himasagara taila can be done.
• Shirolepana with soothing Ayurveda herbs.
• Along with these, Ayurveda medications can help in treating tension headache.

• Have more of ghee, jaggery, and butter in the food
• Include fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet
• More liquid diets can be taken like buttermilk, sugarcane juice, or tender coconut water
• Avoid smoking or passive smoking
• Restrict your intake of alcohol
• Restrict coffee, carbonated and caffeinated drinks.
• Do not drink or eat anything that has artificial sweeteners.
• Avoid canned foods, preservatives or artificial colors.
• Avoid monosodium glutamate which is not suitable for the body

Yoga: Tadasana (mountain pose), Parsvottasana, Garudasana, Gomukhasana, Sethubandhasana (bridge pose), Suptabaddhakonasana, Adhomukhashwasana (downward dog), Viparita karani, Savasana.