Headaches that appear on the top of the head are called tension headaches; these headaches can also affect the sides or front of the head, and can cause pain and stiffness in the neck. Tension headaches are quite common, and affect anywhere from 30 to 80 percent of the adult population in the United States, say experts at WebMD. Tension headache symptoms vary widely, may appear suddenly or gradually and last anywhere from 30 minutes to several days.
Tension headaches affect many people, but occur more often in women than men, reports WebMD. Many people develop tension headaches in subsequent flare-ups, which are called episodes. Some experience several short-lived episodes each month. For others, however, the pain from tension headaches is chronic and increases in severity over time.
Just as pain presents differently in individuals with tension headaches, these ailments arise from many causes. Some common causes are: emotional stress, lack of sleep or rest, hunger, general fatigue and even poor posture. Sometimes, tension headaches arise as an emotional response to troubles in life, such as faltering relationships, troubles at work, financial issues and more.
Although some people develop tension headaches as a result of a single triggering episode, others develop headaches over time as daily stresses accumulate. Although bothersome, tension headaches do not impair life functions, and are not associated with malignant causes.