What causes a feeling of pressure in the head?

Various health conditions, such as a sinus infection or an ear problem, cause a feeling of pressure in the head. Some of these health conditions are easy to treat. However, intense pressure or pain in the head can indicate a serious underlying medical condition. These should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Below are descriptive information about the causes of intracranial pressure and treatment methods:

Causes and Other Symptoms

Some conditions cause a feeling of pressure in the head. These conditions are as follows:

Tension headache

The pressure in the head is a tension headache. According to the American Migraine Foundation, approximately 75% of the general population experiences tension-type headaches (TTHs). A TTH feels like the head is tightened with a tight band or tightened in a vise. The pain of a TTH ranges from mild to moderate. According to the International Classification of Headache Disorders, TTHs are divided into three categories. These categories are as follows:

• Rare episodic TTH: Occurs on average once a month or less.

• Frequent episodic TTH: Occurs on average 2 to 14 times per month.

• Chronic TTH: Occurs 15 or more times a month for at least 3 months.

Experts do not know exactly what causes TTHs. However, these headaches develop for a number of reasons. These reasons are as follows:

Sinus infection and sinus headache

Health problems such as seasonal allergies and upper respiratory tract infections cause inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses, and this is the cause of sinus headache. Sinus headache is the cause of constant pressure sensation in front of the head. In addition, the person experiences this feeling in the nose, ears and cheekbones.


Migraine is a neurological health problem. It is the cause of headaches, these include severe and throbbing pain on the sides of the head. Migraine headaches usually affect one or both sides of the head. Migraine is more common in women than men. Approximately 29.5 million people in the US experience pain and other discomfort symptoms, according to the Office of Women’s Health, Trusted Source. In addition to migraine pain, it causes vision problems such as sensitivity to light or sound, blurred vision, partial loss of vision or the appearance of flashing lights, nausea, vomiting or both, and fatigue. In addition, the exact cause of migraine is still unknown, and however, genetic and environmental factors affect one’s risk.

Ear problems

Dull, painful pressure on the side of the head, face, or jaw indicates an ear infection or vestibular migraine. There are symptoms that usually accompany problems with the ear, and symptoms are as follows:

  • Pain in the ear, jaw or temple
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Hearing problem
  • Tinnitus or buzzing in the ears
  • Vision problems
  • Fluid discharge from the ear


Meningitis is a rare medical condition that causes inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, and these membranes are called the meninges. Meningitis typically develops after a viral or bacterial infection enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain. The infection then spreads in tissues and fluids in the brain or spinal cord. In addition, there are other causes of meningitis and these reasons are as follows:

  • Fungal infection
  • Infection with parasites
  • Infection with Naegleria fowleri amoeba
  • Some medications
  • Lupus
  • Some head injuries
  • Some cancers

Inflammation in the brain and spinal cord causes severe headache, as well as other problems. These problems are as follows:

  • Stiff neck
  • Fire
  • Tiredness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion
  • Nausea, vomiting, or both
  • Seizures


The tumor in or near the brain increases the pressure inside the skull. The American Cancer Society has defined the general list of brain tumor symptoms. The general list of this brain tumor is as follows:

• Headache

• Nausea, vomiting, or both

• Tiredness

• Blurred vision

• Dizziness or loss of balance

• Personality or behavior changes

• Seizures

• Coma

Brain aneurysm

There is a protrusion or extension formed in the aneurysm blood vessel. Due to the weakness of the blood vessel wall, aneurysms develop and the protruding area is filled with blood. Brain aneurysm puts pressure on nerves and brain tissue, causing symptoms, and these symptoms are as follows:

• Numbness

• Weakness

• Pain above and behind the eye

• Pupil dilation

• Vision changes

• Paralysis on one side of the face

If the person is not treated, the surrounding tissue fills with blood, so a brain aneurysm ruptures or bursts. In this case, the person experiences a sudden and serious headache. Other possible symptoms of a ruptured and burst brain aneurysm include:

• Double vision

• Stiff neck

• Sensitivity to light

• Nausea, vomiting, or both

• Seizures

• Loss of consciousness

• Stroke

Torn brain aneurysm is an emergency. Anyone who believes they have ruptured their aneurysm should go to the emergency room immediately if they experience any of the above symptoms.


Pressure therapy in the head varies depending on the cause. These treatment options are as follows:


Several types of medications are suitable for treating pressure in the head. These drugs are as follows:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These drugs help reduce the pressure from TTHs, migraines and sinus headaches. In addition, NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen are available.

Triptans: This group of drugs is very effective in the treatment of moderate to severe migraine headaches.

Antibiotics: These destroy bacteria that cause sinus infections or bacterial meningitis. Bacterial meningitis patients are usually given intravenously.

Corticosteroids: These drugs help reduce inflammation and pressure caused by inflammatory conditions such as infection or lupus. Along with antibiotics, it is also effective in treating bacterial meningitis.

Antiviral drugs: These drugs help eradicate the viruses responsible for conditions such as viral meningitis and other infections, but they are not always effective.

Chemotherapy: These powerful anticancer drugs help slow the growth of some types of brain tumors.

Surgical operation

Some brain tumors or aneurysms require surgery and the procedures differ depending on the situation. These procedures are as follows:

Surgery for brain tumors

Surgery is required to remove the brain tumor in the person. However, sometimes it is not possible to remove the tumor because of the tumor it is located in. In this case, the medical team recommends mass removal surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Doing so makes subsequent radiation therapy or chemotherapy more effective.


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