Tension-Type Headaches

What Causes Tension Headaches?

Tension headaches can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'very serious'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose tension headaches, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "tension headaches" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Iron Deficiency Anemia
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • Aspartame/Neotame Side-Effects
  • Magnesium Need
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Low Melatonin
  • Dehydration
  • Low Carbohydrate Diet Consequences

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
multiple swollen axillary nodes
tongue swelling
seizures
strong appetite
shortness of breath when at rest
frequent unexplained fevers
moderate abdominal pain
moderate unexplained weight gain
very cloudy urine
low energy/stamina
excessive thirst
stomach ulcers
... and more than 110 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of tension headaches:
Cause Probability Status
Dehydration 90% Confirm
Low Carbohydrate Diet Consequences 20% Unlikely
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity 15% Unlikely
Aspartame/Neotame Side-Effects 5% Ruled out
Low Melatonin 3% Ruled out
Magnesium Need 1% Ruled out
Sarcoidosis 1% Ruled out
Iron Deficiency Anemia 1% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate chronic headaches, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you get Tension Headaches? This is the most common type of headache where a dull, steady ache usually occurs on both sides of the head.
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Probably had some/minor episode(s) now resolved
→ Major episode(s) now resolved
→ Current minor problem
→ Current major problem
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either history of tension headaches or current tension headaches, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Aspartame/Neotame Side-Effects

Double-blind studies have demonstrated that aspartame causes headaches.  [Headache 1988:28(1) pp.10-14, Biological Psychiatry 1993:34(1) pp.13-17, Neurology 1994:44 pp.1787-93.]

Environmental Illness / MCS

Central nervous system dysfunction is common, resulting in headaches, chronic fatigue, poor short term memory, hyperactivity, and increased appetite leading to food cravings and overeating.

Estrogens Low

Women must first be exposed to elevated estrogen levels before low estrogen levels will trigger headache activity.  Constant low levels of estrogen, as in menopause, are less likely to be associated with increased headache pattern.

Liver Detoxification / Support Requirement

A 'sluggish liver' often contributes to headaches.

Low Female Testosterone Level

Migraines are more common among women who have very low testosterone levels.

Low Melatonin Level

Migraines sufferers often are found to have reduced blood levels of melatonin.

Lupus, SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)

Vascular or migraine headaches occur in 10% of lupus patients.

Magnesium Requirement

Migraines sufferers often are found to have reduced blood levels of magnesium.

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