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Left Side Headache: 6 Common Causes & What To Do

Relieve headaches at the top of your head – It works!

Left side headaches generally occur due to blows to the head and other mild injuries. They can also occur due to ear inflammations or migraines, and may be accompanied by other symptoms like local swelling, nausea or fever.

Although it is not always a concerning finding, left-sided headaches that appear with symptoms like weakness on one side of the body, vision loss or seizures may be a sign of a more serious condition, like a brain tumor or serious brain injury. In these cases, imaging tests, like a CT or MRI, may be ordered.

If the left side headache occurs frequently, you should consult your doctor for further assessment to rule out any serious conditions and to start treatment as necessary.

Headache On Left Side Of Head: Causes And Treatment

Home » Blog » Headache on Left Side of Head: Causes and Treatment

If recurring headaches on the left side of the head make it hard for you to sleep, work or live a normal life, seek medical help. The expert pain specialist Dr.Amr Hosny at Advanced Headache Center is experienced in diagnosing and treating every type of headache. Relying on modern diagnostic equipment and multidisciplinary approaches, they will develop the best solutions to provide quick and lasting relief.

Headaches on the left side of the head can result from migraines, cluster headaches, or even tension-type headaches. The pain comes on slowly or suddenly and may feel sharp or dull and throbbing. In some cases, the pain radiates to the neck, teeth, or behind the eyes. Headache that subsides within a few hours does not cause concern, but intense pain in one side of the head or pain that does not go away can be serious.

There are two main types of headaches, primary and secondary. Both these types are different, but they can have similar symptoms, making it difficult to distinguish one from another. Headaches can be bothersome, especially when you dont know what is causing them. Finding effective treatment in such a case can be challenging, and you must work with an experienced physician to know more about pain management.

Headache Above Or Behind The Left Eye: Causes And Treatments

Jenny Hills, Nutritionist and Medical Writer Health

Experiencing a headache above or behind the left eye can have a debilitating effect on your daily activities. Pain that occurs around your left eye can start off as a dull throb and gradually becomes more intense and turn into sharp stabbing pain. Along with the headache on your forehead above the left eye, you may feel pressure in your head that can make concentrating and focusing difficult.

Some types of headaches that affect the left side of your head can also cause other symptoms. For example, along with the throbbing pain, you may experience flashing lights, nausea, sensitivity to light, or a stuffy nose if blocked sinuses cause a one-sided headache.

In the majority of cases, a headache behind or above your left eye that comes and goes can be treated with simple home remedies. Applying a cold pack, massaging your left temple and forehead, or getting more rest can be enough to relieve the pain and ease the discomfort behind your left eye. In some rare cases, if you have a constant headache that isnt relieved by natural treatment and is accompanied by other symptoms, you should see your doctor about it.

This article explores the most common causes of headaches that can occur behind the left eye and why some headaches affect your left forehead above your eye.

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Other Reasons For Sharp Pains On Left Side Of Head

Some types of chronic headaches that dont give you any relief can be associated with serious conditions.

Stroke. Although not common, Dr. Laurence C. Newman on WebMD says that a stroke can start with a sudden severe migraine-like headache. The more usual signs of stroke are weakness on one side of the body, loss of speech or slurring words, and confusion.21

Brain tumor. Persistent, chronic headaches that cause vise-like squeezing head pains can be a sign of a brain tumor. However, researchers at Johns Hopkins reassure people that most headaches, even severe headaches are caused by migraines, clusters headaches, or tension headaches.22

Nummular headaches. Although not serious, nummular headaches can cause persistent headaches on one side of your head. The headache pain is sometimes made worse by intermittent sharp, stabbing pains that last for up to 2 hours. The pain is usually localized to an area 2-6 cm in diameter.23

Other Types Of Headaches

Headache with sensitive upper teeth

Doctors have diagnosed hundreds of conditions associated with headaches. Here are just a few:

Medication headaches. Many drugs number headaches among their side effects. And although it seems paradoxical, many medications used to treat headaches can also cause medication overuse headaches or rebound headaches. Migraine sufferers are particularly vulnerable to a vicious cycle of pain leading to more medication, which triggers more pain. If you have frequent headaches and use medication, OTC or prescription, or both, for more than 10 to 15 days a month, you may have medication overuse headaches. The way to find out is to discontinue or taper your medication but always consult your doctor first. A corticosteroid such as prednisone may help control pain during the withdrawal period.

Sinus headaches. Acute sinusitis causes pain over the forehead, around the nose and eyes, over the cheeks, or in the upper teeth. Stooping forward increases the pain. Thick nasal discharge, congestion, and fever pinpoint the problem to the sinuses. When the acute infection resolves, the pain disappears. Sinusitis is not a common cause of chronic or recurrent headaches.

Ice cream headaches. Some people develop sharp, sudden headache pain when they eat anything cold. The pain is over in less than a minute, even if you keep eating. If you are bothered by ice cream headaches, try eating slowly and warming the cold food at the front of your mouth before you swallow it.

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Home Remedies To Treat Sharp Headache Pain On Left Side Of Head

Many home remedies can help to get rid of a headache that affects one side of your head. These natural headache treatments can sometimes work as an alternative to over-the-counter pain medications.

  • Use a warm or cool compress on the left side of your head for quick headache relief. Cold helps to numb pain and reduce nerve irritation. Warmth relaxes tense muscles in your neck and helps you relax.
  • Add a few drops of lavender oil in a warm bath and soak for up to 20 minutes. Lavender is a natural analgesic for temple pain relief when you breathe the vapors in. The heat from the bath also helps to relax your shoulders and neck as well as helping to unblock sinuses.
  • Get some shut-eye to help your brain relax and get rid of your migraine or tension headache quicker. Sleep can also help to prevent your headache from getting worse as the head pain can increase sensitivity to light.
  • If pain on the left side of your head is accompanied by pangs of hunger, try eating a light meal. Boosting your sugar levels can help your brain to function better.

When Should You Seek Help

Most headaches are benign and dont require a visit to a doctor. These are called primary headaches, and they make up more than 90 percent of headache complaints, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

If your headaches are chronic and interfere with your daily activities, see a doctor. The Cleveland Clinic notes that chronic tension-type headaches affect only 2 percent of the population, but account for many doctor visits and missed days of work.

Other headaches, called secondary headaches, have symptoms for which you should see a doctor or go to the emergency room. Secondary headaches may have serious underlying problems that are causing the headache. Seek help if your headache is:

  • sudden and severe
  • new but persistent, especially if youre older than 50
  • the result of a head injury

You should also see a doctor if you have a headache and any of the following:

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Other Causes Of Headache On Left Side Of Head

Sometimes, left side headaches can be secondary and result from some underlying issues such as:

  • Dissection of the vertebral or carotid artery
  • Strokes and brain tumors might also cause a headache on the left side of the head, but, such a headache is accompanied by double vision, weakness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, and other neurological symptoms.

One side headache can mean different things, but it often points to a group of disorders that need a thorough investigation to provide relief. Headache doctors focus on how these headaches occur and how long they last to narrow down which category your headaches fall under to provide the best treatment. They will do a physical exam, collect medical history and analyze the symptoms to make an accurate diagnosis and manage your pain.

Sharp Pain On Just Left Side Of Head

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Most headaches affecting just one side of your head are connected to arteries or nerves located on either side of your head.

According to expert in facial cosmetic surgery Dr. Bhupendra Patel, your temporal artery and facial nerves are located on the left side and right side of your head. Irritation or inflammation along the nerve can cause one-sided head pain.1

Also, the mastoid bone behind your ear can become inflamed and sore, and this usually causes pulsating headache pain behind just one ear.

Another reason why throbbing headache pain can affect just the left side of your head is if your left sinuses are blocked.

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Other Causes Of Headaches In Your Left Temple

In rare cases, persistent chronic headaches that cause throbbing headaches can be an indicator of a more serious condition.

Stroke. Strokes cause weakness on one side of your body along with vision problems and speech problems. On rare occasions, a stroke can cause a severe migraine that may affect just one side of your head.21 Please read my article on the early signs of a stroke for more information.

Brain tumor. Doctors say that most headaches are not caused by brain tumors. However, if you have constant headaches that dont respond to rest or painkillers, you should speak to your doctor. Other symptoms of a brain tumor include seizures, balance problems, headaches with blurry vision, personality changes, or changes in speech or hearing.22

Nummular headaches. A headache that causes continual pain in a small area of your head could be a nummular headache, or a coin-shaped headache. The pain can be intense and last for around 2 hours. However, there are usually no associated symptoms with nummular headaches. These types of headaches are rarely serious.23

How Are Ice Pick Headaches Managed Or Treated

Ice pick headaches disappear quickly. They arent like other headaches or migraines, which can last for hours or linger for days.

There isnt time to take pain relievers to treat ice pick headaches. By the time the medicine kicks in, the ice pick headache is long gone.

Instead, treatments focus on preventing pain. Preventive steps include:

  • Headache medications taken daily to ward off head pain like migraines.
  • Melatonin to reduce migraine frequency.
  • Prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as indomethacin , to minimize headache pain when it occurs.

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What Causes A Headache On The Top Of Your Head

Several different conditions can cause headaches on top of your head. These can include different types of headaches, nerve issues, and more rare causes.

There are a number of different forms of headache that can cause pain on top of the head.

Tension-type headaches

Tension headaches cause constant pressure or aching around the head, which may feel like a tight band has been placed around the head.

You may also feel pain in your neck and near the back of your head or temples. The pain is dull and doesnt throb, and its often much less severe than that of a migraine. Although these headaches are uncomfortable, many people with tension headaches are able to resume their typical activities.

Episodes of tension-type headaches can last from about .


Migraine is a neurological condition that causes severe and debilitating headaches. It may cause headache pain on the top of the head, though it may also appear on or travel to one side of the head or the back of the neck.

Migraine can cause severe , along with symptoms that can also include:

  • light sensitivity

days of the month. This is an umbrella term that doctors use to refer to multiple conditions.

Chronic headaches can come in many different forms. These can include:

Occipital neuralgia occurs when the nerves that move from the spine to the scalp are damaged, irritated, or compressed. They can cause pain at the back of the head, or a tight, band-like feeling around the top of the head.

Other symptoms can include:

Treatments For Cluster Headaches

Headache At Your Temple with stiff neck

Cluster headaches are not life threatening, but they can cause severe pain and significantly affect your quality of life.

Over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol, are not effective for cluster headaches because they’re too slow to take effect.

Instead, you’ll need to have one or more specialist treatments.

3 main treatments are available to relieve pain when taken soon after a cluster headache starts.

These are:

  • sumatriptan injections which you can give yourself up to twice a day
  • sumatriptan or zolmitriptan nasal spray which can be used if you do not want to have injections
  • oxygen therapy where you breathe pure oxygen through a face mask

These treatments usually relieve the pain of a cluster headache within 15 to 30 minutes.

The Organisation for the Understanding of Cluster Headache has more information about the medicines used to treat cluster headaches.

Read Also: How Long Do Migraines Last With Medication

What Causes Headaches In A Child

Researchers dont fully understand the exact cause of headaches. Many headaches may be caused by tight muscles and widened blood vessels in the head. Stress and mental or emotional conflict can trigger tension headaches. Migraine headaches may be caused by changes in brain chemicals or nerve signals.

Other headaches may be caused by a change in pain signals from nerves in the head, face, and neck. Lack of sleep and poor sleep quality are often the cause of chronic headaches. In rarer cases, headaches may be caused by a problem in the brain such as a tumor.

Lifestyle Factors That Cause Headaches On Left Side

For many people, lifestyle choices are a major cause of preventable headaches that result in temple pain or pain behind one eye.

Stress and tension headaches. Most doctors agree that stress is a major cause of tension headaches. Stress can tighten the muscles at the back of the neck and result in dull, aching head pain that spreads from the base of your skull to your temples.16

Hunger triggers headaches. Being hungry can trigger headaches with migraine-like symptoms and pain on one side of your head. The journal BMC Research Notes reports that about 30% of all headaches are in some way related to feeling hungry.17

Sleep deprivation. Not getting enough sleep and feeling tired can bring on a throbbing headache and make it difficult to concentrate. According to the journal Cephalalgia, lack of sleep results in deep boring headaches that can last from 1 hour to a whole day.18

Too much alcohol consumption. Apart from damaging your liver, drinking too much alcohol can bring on a pounding headache along with feelings of nausea. Researchers have also discovered that even just small quantities of alcohol can increase the frequency and intensity of migraines and cluster headaches.19

Also Check: How To Get Rid Of Migraine Pressure Point

When To Worry About A Headache

You can take care of many types of headaches by yourself, and your doctor can give you medication to control most of the tougher headaches. But some headaches call for prompt medical care. Here are some warning signs for when you should worry about headaches:

  • Headaches that first develop after age 50
  • A major change in the pattern of your headaches
  • An unusually severe headache
  • Head pain that increases with coughing or movement
  • Headaches that get steadily worse
  • Changes in personality or mental function
  • Headaches that are accompanied by fever, stiff neck, confusion, decreased alertness or memory, or neurological symptoms such as visual disturbances, slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or seizures
  • Headaches that are accompanied by a painful red eye
  • Headaches that are accompanied by pain and tenderness near the temples
  • Headaches after a blow to the head
  • Headaches that prevent normal daily activities
  • Headaches that come on abruptly, especially if they wake you up
  • Headaches in patients with cancer or impaired immune systems

Living With Constant Headaches

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For most of us, an occasional headache is nothing more than a temporary speed bump in the course of a busy day. Even so, most men can ease the problem with simple lifestyle measures and nonprescription medications. Relaxation techniques, biofeedback, yoga, and acupuncture may also help. But for some of us, headaches are a big problem. Learn to recognize warning signs that call for prompt medical care. Work with your doctor to develop a program to prevent and treat migraines and other serious headaches. And don’t fall into the trap of overusing medications for some gents, rebound headaches are the biggest pain of all.

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