Tension Headache: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/4/2020

Tension headache is the most common type of headache.

Tension headache can affect anyone, and the symptoms associated with it can vary in severity. Symptoms can include

  • mild to moderate pain or pressure in the front, top, or sides of your head;
  • a headache that starts later in the day;
  • trouble sleeping;
  • feeling very tired; and
  • irritability.

Other associated symptoms can include

Some people have both migraine and tension headache, and the tension headache can trigger migraine symptoms in susceptible people.

Causes of tension headache

The cause of tension headache is unknown, but certain factors have been linked to development or worsening of symptoms. These include eyestrain, vision problems, muscle strain, and overexertion.

Other tension headache symptoms and signs

  • Concentration Problems
  • Feeling Very Tired
  • Headache That Starts Later in the Day
  • Irritability
  • Mild Sensitivity to Light or Noise
  • Mild to Moderate Pain or Pressure in the Front, Top, or Sides of Your Head
  • Muscle Aches
  • Trouble Focusing
  • Trouble Sleeping


16 Surprising Headache Triggers and Tips for Pain Relief See Slideshow

Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.