What is a Hatband Headache?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A hatband headache is a type of tension headache. It is characterized by a distinctive band of pain which runs around the head, much like a hatband. As a general rule, patients usually treat hat-band headaches at home, since the pain is mild and relatively easy to manage. Recurring headaches of this type may be a cause for concern; if you experience chronic hatband headaches, you should consult a doctor to rule out underlying medical conditions.

Aspirin may be used to relieve pain associated with a hatband headache.
Aspirin may be used to relieve pain associated with a hatband headache.

Tension headaches are usually linked to fatigue and stress. As you push your body to its limits, it may respond with a myriad of symptoms indicating a general imbalance in health. It is important to recognize these symptoms and to take steps to prevent them from recurring, as you want to keep your body healthy. Tension and fatigue can seriously undermine the health of your immune system, causing you to be more susceptible to serious medical problems.

Tension headaches are usually linked to fatigue and stress.
Tension headaches are usually linked to fatigue and stress.

The pain of a hatband headache is caused by muscle tension around your head. As your muscles tighten, they put pressure on your skull, leading to a generalized pain. The pain is usually not excruciating, but it can be distracting and irritating. Typically, taking aspirin or ibuprofen provides relief from a hatband headache, although some people also like to lie in a dark room or ice their heads to manage the pain.

Patients usually treat hat-ban headaches at home.
Patients usually treat hat-ban headaches at home.

These headaches are not migraines, more serious headaches which can cause vomiting and nausea. The pain of a migraine is usually described as entirely disabling, and it may come in waves, rather than settling in as a low-grade pain. A hatband headache also does not have an aura phase, like migraines do, and one may appear suddenly. Tension headaches may be related to diet at times; increasing caffeine uptake, for example, can help to treat them, but restrictive diets do not appear to help with tension headaches.

In many cases, a hatband headache is caused by muscle tension that puts undue pressure on the skull.
In many cases, a hatband headache is caused by muscle tension that puts undue pressure on the skull.

When you get a hatband headache, take pain relief medication. There is no reason to continue enduring the pain, and pain can be harder on your body than any medication would be. Frequent tension headaches indicate a need for medical evaluation or a change in lifestyle to reduce the tension and stress which is causing these headaches. In some cases, a doctor may also prescribe different pain relief drugs to treat your hatband headaches, or he or she may order medical testing to see if the headaches are caused by a neurological issue.

Reoccurring hatband headaches can be cause for concern.
Reoccurring hatband headaches can be cause for concern.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

trekker

There is enough stress in our world today. It’s unfortunate that stress causes a painful condition that can be a stressor on its own! I used to have a lot of trouble with neck pain and headaches.

I saw my doctor to rule out underlying causes for my hatband headaches. I use acetaminophen when I need to. Finding ways to relax and unwind has been the biggest source of relief from my headaches.

I just started a yoga dvd and it has been a lot of fun so far. I think if we all could find a little more time to unwind, the occurrence of headaches would become less prevalent.

SalmonRiver

I get anxiety headaches that fit the description of hatband headaches. I am being treated for anxiety, but the headaches have not gone away. I have recently started adding self massage to my neck and scalp when the headaches come on. It seems to help while I am massaging, but not after.

I have heard that adding calcium to your diet can help with these headaches, too. A friend of mine recommended I try breathing exercises daily to reduce tension. I don’t like taking headache medication all the time.

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