Tension Headache Triggers

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Story Updated: May 19, 2014

Although the vice-like grip of tension headaches is a recurring fact of life for millions of Americans they often strike without warning or obvious cause. Clinicians have long cited chronic stress as a major trigger.

But increasingly experts are pointing to a variety of other factors that may play a surprising role. The Cleveland Clinic, for one, says that fatigue and insufficient sleep could ultimately translate into neck and scalp muscle tightness. Bad posture as well as emotional distress and depression could also up the risk for tension-related issues.

The National Institutes of Health, meanwhile, cautions that diet may also play a role. Notably, NIH experts caution that drinking too much alcohol or caffeinated coffee could develop into a underlying problem as can turning off the coffee spigot cold-turkey. Dental issues such as teeth grinding or jaw clenching might also be headache drivers alongside eye-strain, sinus infections, and smoking.

Simply identifying... and minimizing these kinds of triggers might go a long way towards preventing such headaches from occurring in the first place.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the news doctors are reading health news that matters to you.

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