Understanding Chronic Migraines and Tension Headaches: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Options

Understanding Chronic Migraines and Tension Headaches: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Options


Migraines are one of the most common types of headaches. They often bring with them intense, throbbing pain on one side of the head and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache (with biggest % of people experiencing this). Unlike migraines, tension headaches feel like a band around the head that tightens. They can involve sensations such as feeling full or squeezed in the forehead area.

We shall discuse what causes chronic migraines and tension headaches. It also provides information on what you can do to treat them, including lifestyle changes and medications.

What are chronic migraines and tension headaches?

It is not known for certain why some people get chronic migraines and others get tension headaches. However, here are a few reasons that may explain why a person gets both.

Both migraines and tension headaches cause intense throbbing pain on one side of the head. Some people with migraines experience an aura – a temporary occurrence of visual, auditory, or sensory changes that usually precedes a migraine.


Some people experience chronic migraines because they suffer from cluster headaches or other serious problems in the neck, back, and jaw

Chronic migraine attacks can be either episodic or chronic. Episodic migraines last anywhere from 3 to 7 days, and are usually very short. These attacks often occur between 2 to 8 times per month. Episodic migraine attacks are triggered by specific triggers, such as light, heat, stress, or hormones. Chronic migraines can last for more than 7 days and are highly variable. They can also occur once or twice a month or every day for several weeks.

Migraines usually occur when the brain sends a lot of messages to the nerves. These messages irritate the lining of the inner ear, causing migraines.Migraines tend to develop in people in their 30s and 40s, although they can also occur in children. Although many people with chronic migraines experience them once or twice, some people have them for several years. Migraines are also known as cerebral migraines. This term comes from the idea that a migraine’s onset occurs in the brain.People with migraines may get frequent headaches due to medications like antidepressants, antihistamines, antacids, blood pressure medications, or anti-convulsants.

Tension headaches

The word “tension” describes how a person feels when a muscle is tensed, while “headache” describes the feeling a person has when a nerve is irritated.Frequent bouts of tension headaches can be caused by neck pain, headaches due to sinusitis, sinus infections or allergies, or neck pain associated with misalignment or muscle spasms in the neck. Headaches feel some type of blockage, pressure, or squeezing in the forehead area, although the pain can be localized in one part of the head or even just on one side of the head. These headaches typically occur on one side of the head or both sides. But there are more than one type of tension headache. Often, one side of the forehead area is sensitive and the other side is not.


Reasons for treating chronic migraine and tension headaches

There are many reasons for which chronic migraine and tension headaches can be treated without medication. By learning the underlying cause of chronic headache it is possible to identify the symptom that needs to be treated. For example, if you suffer from chronic migraine attacks, then you will need to consider certain lifestyle changes that can reduce your chances of getting another attack. For chronic headaches, physical activity is essential as it can help to relax your muscles. Physical activity helps to flush the brain and body with oxygen and nutrients to give it energy and reduce pain. As a bonus, regular exercise can even help to treat depression. Lastly, you should not eat too much sugary or oily food as it can trigger a headache attack.

Treatment for chronic migraine

It is essential to treat chronic migraine attacks quickly to prevent the headache from becoming more severe. It is essential to treat chronic migraine attacks quickly to prevent the headache from becoming more severe.

Migraines can be chronic, lasting anywhere from a few days to a few months. They tend to be more severe than tension headaches, and tend to last longer than 24 hours.

Treatment for chronic migraines will depend on the cause and severity of the pain. It may include:

Non-drug treatment like Vitamin B6 and supplements

Taking time off from work or school. Taking a day off every week or two would usually help a person manage their tension headaches. It is important to do this gradually as long-term sick leave can make chronic headaches even worse, as the person isn’t exercising the rest of their body.

Lifestyle changes

Cutting back on caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant and can actually exacerbate headaches. If you do suffer from chronic tension headaches or migraines, it is best to avoid caffeine as much as possible

Physical therapy, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation can be helpful in the treatment of chronic headaches.

Medication. Medication drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are used to control inflammation. A doctor may recommend having an MRI or CT scan to investigate any causes of the pain. This can reveal the reason for the recurring migraines or tension headaches, such as a stroke or brain tumor.


People that take immunosuppressants like interferon beta-1a, cyclosporine, or tacrolimus are not guaranteed to get migraines. In fact, it can take months or even years for these drugs to have an effect. The problem is that many people who take them develop side effects like diarrhea, weight loss, or shakiness. It is important to consult your doctor about any potential side effects.

Treatment for chronic tension headache

A spironolactone supplement can treat tension headaches. General practitioner A spironolactone supplement can treat tension headaches.

Treatment for chronic tension headaches may include:


artificial blood vessels in the head

anti-epileptic drugs (including gabapentin, pregabalin, valproic acid, divalproex sodium, and topiramate)

nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin


anti-convulsants, such as gabapentin

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant that is available in tablet form as a nasal spray and as an intravenous injection for use in combination with triptans.

Gabapentin is an effective treatment for chronic tension headaches due to its anti-convulsant effects.

Some people think that caffeine can make headaches worse. But some caffeine, like diet soda, can actually help relieve the tension headache by stimulating the body’s production of a natural headache reliever, caffeine. It can also relax muscles that are tight from tension headaches. Caffeine can be helpful if your headache is caused by dehydration. Drink lots of water.

Preventing chronic headache

The best way to reduce headache pain from triggers like stress or dehydration is to learn to relax and to rest. Spending some time on meditation can help decrease anxiety, and it can also help reduce muscle tension. Using aromatherapy in conjunction with some relaxation techniques can reduce pain from muscle tension. Getting more sleep each night and taking care of personal hygiene can reduce the risk of headaches.

Home remedies for tension headache

Before you go about any home remedy for tension headache, here are few questions to consider:

1. Why do I have a tension headache?

2. What do I usually eat when I have a headache?

3. How do I cope with a headache?

4. Is there anything I can do at home to ease the pain?

While home remedies can reduce the pain and minimize the duration of the headache, they don’t help in the long term and medication or even injections are the best options. I do recommend you try a couple of them at home for at least a week and see how it works.

1. Avoid caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and over-the-counter medicines like aspirin

2. Avoid hot baths and drinks

3. Take a bath with Epsom salt

4. Massage the back with a few drops of essential oils like lavender and peppermint


Both chronic migraine and tension headaches are common and the symptoms may be similar in some ways. Both conditions are more common in women than men, but not all people who experience chronic migraines or tension headaches have a family history of them. They can occur at any age, and are more likely to occur as you get older.

The effects of migraines or tension headaches may be similar in some ways, but they can also be very different. A person who experiences chronic migraines or tension headaches will need to manage their condition at home to make sure they get enough rest and support. If they have children, they will need to ensure that they are able to take care of them as best they can.

Many symptoms of migraine can be treated successfully without medication. If you feel that medication is your best option for treating your migraines, it is important to make a decision that is right for you. Talk with your doctor and decide whether you will use medications or some alternative remedies. The goal of any treatment is to relieve symptoms and make life a bit more enjoyable. To help you find a treatment that works best for you, use the tips above