Pressure in the head: the most common causes

Pressure in the head: the most common causes

Pressure in the head manifests itself as a dull pain that can occur on both sides or in just one part of the head. The symptom is perceived very differently by those affected. Some feel their “heads would burst”; others compare the pressure to a “plank in front of them”. What can be the causes behind it, and what helps against pressure in the head?

The most common causes of pressure in the head

Pressure in the head is relatively common and usually nothing to worry about. A variety of causes are possible.


Tension in the neck and shoulder muscles

In most cases, the pressure in the head comes from tense neck and shoulder muscles. This is favoured by one-sided, sometimes incorrect posture (often when working on a computer screen) and a lack of exercise. Stress and lack of sleep are also possible triggers.

A tight jaw causes pressure in the head.

Tight muscles in the jaw area can also lead to a feeling of pressure in the head. The cause of tense jaw muscles is teeth grinding or clenching. The grinding or clenching of the teeth usually happens at night during sleep, which is why those affected do not notice it.

Long-term teeth grinding is associated with wear and tear of the teeth, which is why a dentist often diagnoses it. Wear a splint to prevent further wear and tear on the teeth.


Pressure in the head from respiratory diseases

Suppose the pressure in the head primarily affects the front area of ​​the head, i.e. the forehead and temples, and the symptom only appears temporarily. In that case, a respiratory disease, such as a cold or flu, is often behind it. An inflammation of the paranasal or frontal sinuses often causes head pressure.

Typically, a feeling of pressure in the head caused by respiratory diseases increases when the upper body is bent forward, and a throbbing is added to the dull pain in the head.

Unilateral pressure in the head and ear with dizziness

If the feeling of pressure is only on one side and suddenly there are strong feelings of dizziness simultaneously, Mèniere’s disease (rotating vertigo) is often the cause of the symptoms. This is a disease of the inner ear in which a defect in its metabolism leads to fluid build-up in the ear.

This increases the pressure inside the vestibular system, which manifests in pressure in the affected ear, including dizziness. Meniere’s disease is often accompanied by drowsiness.

Pressure in the head from high blood pressure or diabetes

In addition, diseases that affect blood circulation can also cause pressure in the head. These include, for example, diabetes mellitus or high blood pressure. If they trigger the symptom, a doctor should check the medication or, if necessary, prescribe it for the first time.


Can a brain tumour also cause pressure in the head?

Theoretically, brain tumours can also cause a feeling of pressure in the head. However, in the rarest of cases, tumours are only the reason for pressure in the head, which is why there is no reason to worry about this symptom in this regard.

When should you see a doctor if you have pressure in your head?

If those affected know that the pressure in the head is due to a harmless, temporary cause such as a mild cold, a doctor’s visit is usually unnecessary. If, on the other hand, the trigger is unknown, if the symptoms persist for more than two days, or if the person concerned feels severely restricted by the feeling of pressure, a doctor should always be consulted.

Even if the pressure in the head is extreme, occurs repeatedly and is possibly accompanied by dizziness and a severe headache, those affected should not hesitate to consult a doctor. This also applies if nausea, blurred vision or cramps are added.

Diagnosis of pressure in the head: That’s what the doctor does

Der richtige Ansprechpartner bei Druck im Kopf ist zunächst der Hausarzt. Der Mediziner ermittelt meist schon mit Hilfe der Befragung des Patienten (Anamnese) sowie einer einfachen körperlichen Untersuchung die Ursache für den Druck im Kopf. Die Messung des Blutdrucks und ein Bluttest gehören zu den Standarduntersuchungen.

Seltener bedienen sich Ärzte bei Vorliegen von Druck im Kopf auch bildgebenden Verfahren wie Röntgen oder einer Magnetresonanztomografie (MRT).


Was tun bei Druck im Kopf?

Which treatment against the feeling of pressure in the head is the right one depends on the respective cause. If muscle tension is the reason for the pressure in the head, it should be counteracted with specific exercises and possibly physiotherapeutic treatments. In addition, attention should be paid to correct posture, sufficient sleep and a stress-free everyday life.

If respiratory disease is present, it should be treated appropriately. Suppose substance abuse or insufficient sleep are the causes of the feeling of pressure in the head. In that case, only a change in behaviour in the sense of a holistically healthy lifestyle can help. In the case of stress, regular relaxation techniques such as meditation, autogenic training, or yoga can help eliminate the pressure in the head in the long term.

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