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Alternative Names Return to topHeadache - mixed tension migraine
Definition Return to top
Mixed tension migraine is a headache with features of both tension and migraine headaches.
Causes Return to top
Migraine headaches affect millions of people. Tension headaches are even more common, affecting about 40% of the population. People with mixed tension migraine have features of both types of headaches. It is difficult to differentiate which symptoms are due to which type of headache. Women have mixed tension migraines more often than men.
Common triggers for these headaches are hormonal changes, dietary factors, environmental factors, stimulation, and stress. Examples include:
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you about your symptoms. Tests that may be done include:
Treatment Return to top
Certain things may cause your headaches. For example, some people get headaches after drinking alcohol or eating certain foods. These are called triggers. You should identify your specific triggers and avoid them as much as possible.
A headache diary can help you identify your headache triggers. When you get a headache, write down the day and time the pain began. The diary should include notes about what you ate and drank in the last 24 hours, how much you slept and when, and what was going on in your life immediately before the pain started. For example, were you under any unusual stress? Also include information about how long the headache lasted, and what made it stop.
Hot or cold showers or baths may relieve a headache for some people. It is important to follow a healthy lifestyle, get plenty of sleep, and to avoid stress as much as possible.
Over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen may help. If your headaches are severe, your doctor may prescribe other medicines to relieve your pain and prevent further attacks.
For specific treatment information, see:
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Avoiding triggers and taking the appropriate medicine can help manage headache symptoms in many people.
Possible Complications Return to top
Rebound headaches -- headaches that keep coming back -- may occur from overuse of painkillers.
It's important to see a doctor if you have chronic headaches. In some cases, the headache may be a symptom of a more serious disorder.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
It is important to have a full medical and neurological exam if you suddenly have regular or severe headaches.
See your health care provider if headaches are severe, persistent, recurrent, or are accompanied by other symptoms, including:
Also call your health care provider if your current treatment does not help your headaches.
Prevention Return to top
Tips for preventing headaches:
Medicine may be needed to prevent headaches.
References Return to top
Silberstein SD, Young WB. Headache and facial pain. In: Goetz CG, ed. Textbook of Clinical Neurology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 2007:chap 53.
Wilson JF. In the clinic: migraine. Ann Intern Med. 2007;147(9):ITC11-1-ITC11-16.
Fumal A, Schoenen J. Tension-type headache: current research and clinical management. Lancet Neurol. 2008:7(1):70-83.Update Date: 6/19/2008 Updated by: Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.