Almost everyone has a tension headache from time to time. These headaches aren’t caused by disease. They are so common they are considered to be “normal” headaches.
The main symptom of a tension headache is a sense of tightness around the head, according to the National Headache Foundation (NHF). Neck and shoulder muscles are often tense and sore to the touch. The headache may last only a few hours, or it may linger for a day or more.
For tension headaches that occur less than three times a week, over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as aspirin or acetaminophen are usually effective. Medications that combine pain medication with caffeine may help some people, but they can be habit-forming. Don’t use any OTC pain reliever more than two or three days a week. That can cause rebound headaches, the NHF says.
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Nearly all women have occasional headaches, but having a headache in pregnancy is not fun. And, managing headaches is especially tricky in the first trimester when you should avoid medications. Whether your headache is from tension or is a full-blown migraine, there are some things you should know.
The exact cause of a headache isn’t always clear. In the first trimester, changing hormone levels and blood volume may play a role. A dull, overall headache can come with stress, fatigue, and eyestrain. Sinus headaches may be more likely because of the nasal congestion and runny nose that are common in early pregnancy. Hunger and low levels of blood sugar can trigger headaches, too. Women who abruptly stop their morning coffee and sodas may experience caffeine withdrawal headaches. Those who also suffer with nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy can become dehydrated, which can also bring on a headache.
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