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):
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • Magnesium Need
  • Rosacea
  • PMS C
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Low Melatonin
  • Allergic Tension

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:
intolerance of sugars
severe abdominal pain
carbohydrate craving during cycle
history of adolescent acne
allergies as a child
an enlarged nose
craving for salt
numb/burning/tingling extremities
unusual vaginal bleeding
being very easily irritated
slightly tight muscles
specific muscle weakness
... and more than 120 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
Adrenal Fatigue 98% Confirm
Magnesium Need 28% Unlikely
Rosacea 13% Unlikely
Allergic Tension 4% Ruled out
Hypoglycemia 4% Ruled out
PMS C 1% Ruled out
Low Melatonin 0% Ruled out
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity 0% 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.]

Dehydration

Dehydration is an important trigger of migraines and tension headaches.  The mechanisms are not entirely clear, but there appear to be several.  Dehydration leads to:

  • Narrowed blood vessels including those in the brain: A contributing factor for headaches
  • Histamine release to induce thirst: Histamine can trigger migraines
  • Decreased serotonin production: Changes in serotonin levels can trigger migraines
  • Oxidative stress: A major trigger of migraines [Dr. Jonathan M. Borkum, Headache, Vol. 58, Issue 1, January 2018: pp.118-35]
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.

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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