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Tension Headaches - Cause

The cause of tension headaches is not clear. In the past, doctors believed that tension or spasms of the muscles of the neck, face, jaw, head, or scalp played a role in causing these headaches. Now they think a change in brain chemistry may also help cause a tension headache.

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. They can be brought on—or triggered—by things such as stress, depression, hunger, and muscle strain. Tension headaches may come on suddenly or slowly.

Recommended Related to Migraines/Headaches

Understanding Headache -- Treatment

Most headaches can be diagnosed by a medical history and physical exam. To rule out other causes of headaches such as an aneurysm, tumor, or structural abnormality, a doctor may call for vision tests, X-rays, a CT scan, MRI, a lumbar puncture, or an EEG.

Read the Understanding Headache -- Treatment article > >

Chronic tension headaches often occur along with other health problems such as anxiety or depression.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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