Tension-type headaches (TTH) are one of the primary headache types. Many people suffer from this type of headache, but most do not seek medical attention unless it becomes very frequent or chronic (15 or more days per month).
We do not completely understand what causes tension-type headaches, though the current thought is that it is triggered by peripheral mechanisms. That is, from irritation of nerves outside the brain. Often there is associated sensitivity of muscles of the face, head, neck, and shoulders.
The diagnosis of tension-type headaches is made based on history and a physical exam. It usually takes the form of a mild-to-moderate headache that can affect both sides of the head, usually described as “pressing” or “tightening” and generally not made worse by everyday physical activity. Although patients with tension-type headaches can experience sensitivity to light or sound, they usually do not have both. This headache is not associated with nausea or vomiting.
TTH tends to be easy to treat with rest or over-the-counter remedies as-needed. If headaches become more frequent, preventive therapies may be beneficial.