Temple headaches are as common as an aching back after a long day or the cold that you might get once a year when the weather changes. The aching pains that you may feel in your temples could certainly be a part of your daily routine, or they could be the symptom of a much larger issue.
What Causes a Temple Headache?
Temple headaches can be caused by a number of things. Temple headaches can be produced by the tension headaches that you might get from focusing on a project for an extended period of time or from the stress of a recent conflict.
However, there’s a number of medical conditions that could cause a temple headache. Your temple headache could be telling you that you might have a migraine disorder. Pain in the neck and temples can be a part of the prodrome, or warning phase of a migraine.
If the pain persists in your temples and worsens into a larger headache that lasts for hours, you may be having a migraine. It’s important to document how often these headaches are happening, and to share your concerns with your doctor.
Additionally, there’s a chance that you may have a sinus infection. A sinus infection or sinusitis is what happens when the sinuses (a group of four, air filled spaces around the nasal cavity that are located in your cheekbones, lower forehead, between your eyes, and bones behind your nose) become inflamed due to an invasion of bad bacteria or fungi.
Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome
Pain in the temples could also be a sign of Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ). Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome is what happens when the connecting joint between your jaw and your skull has been inflamed or damaged.
The joint that connects your jaw to your skull can be damaged when you excessively chew gum, grind your teeth in sleep, if you already have a case of arthritis that is affecting the joints in your jaw, or if you appear to have a tilt to your head.
If you have temple pain in conjunction with a clicking, grating, or popping noise that occurs when you open or close your mouth or chew, and swelling on the side of your face, you’ll want to schedule an appointment with your doctor.
You can expect to receive an x-ray of your face so that the doctor can properly view your jaws, temporomandibular joints, and teeth. A CT scan might also be ordered so that even the smallest details of the joints in your jaws can be seen by your doctor. From there, your doctor may refer you to an oral surgeon, a chiropractor, or a neuromuscular dentist and recommend that you eat soft foods and take an NSAID like ibuprofen to help reduce the swelling.
If you notice a dramatic increase in your temple headaches when you have to do a presentation at work or discuss disciplinary action with an official from your child’s school, your temple headaches could certainly be triggered by anxiety.
In some cases, your anxiety could be more than situational. The pain that you feel in your temples, neck, and shoulders could be a result of persistent tension from an anxiety disorder. Physical symptoms of anxiety could be your body’s way of telling you that it’s time to relax or to seek treatment for it. Consider incorporating a few of the activities listed below to greatly reduce your anxiety and in turn reduce your daily stress levels:
- Limit the amount of alcohol and caffeine that you consume.
- Do an online search of therapists that are in your area, and call their offices to see if they offer affordable sessions.
- Exercise daily. Thirty minutes of cardio can be a wonderful way to stave off anxiety throughout your day.
- If you already exercise daily, try trading in your morning jog for an hour of Vinyasa Yoga. Yoga can help regulate your metabolism, blood flow, and stress levels.
- Consider visiting a psychologist and asking questions about anti-anxiety medications. While lifestyle changes and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can certainly help with managing daily anxiety, some individuals respond better to a prescription drug that assists with the chemical imbalance in their brains that causes their anxiety.
Self-Care for a Temple Headache
While you should definitely make an appointment with your doctor if your temple headaches persist and grow in severity, here’s a few options to help you manage your temple headaches on your own:
- Take a warm bath or shower.
- Ask your spouse to give you a massage in the neck, head and shoulder region. This will help release some of the tension that you may be holding in your muscles.
- Reduce any emotional stress that may be causing you to hold tension in your body, and in turn, causing your temple headaches.
- Stretch the muscles of your neck to reduce the tension moving up into your head.
- If you’re a smoker, take the necessary steps required to stop smoking, as it only worsens your headaches and weakens your overall health. There are over the counter stop smoking aids such as NicoDerm CQ that can help with this.
As with any medical issue, it is essential to visit a doctor if the problem persists for a significant period of time.