Pressure In Head

By Shaffer, Michael
By Spader, Catherine, RN

What is pressure in the head?

Pressure in the head is a sensation of tightness, throbbing or pain affecting the head, which includes the face, scalp, skull and brain. Pressure in the head may frequently be described as a headache and can affect all or just a portion of the head.

Feeling head pressure or a headache is very common, and people of any age group or population can experience pressure in the head. Head pressure and headaches can be caused by such common conditions as inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis), a cold, or allergies. Head pressure may feel slightly uncomfortable, such as with a mild tension headache or sinus congestion, or it may cause severe pain, such as that due to a migraine headache or head injury.

In medical terms, pressure in the head can also refer to a serious condition in which there is an increase in intracranial pressure inside the skull. However, feeling like you have head pressure or a headache does not necessarily mean that you have increased intracranial pressure.

Increased intracranial pressure is caused by serious conditions, such as an increase in cerebrospinal fluid, which cushions and lubricates the brain and spinal cord, or it can be due to a change in the brain itself, such as a brain mass (tumor). Increased intracranial pressure can also be caused by bleeding into or on the brain due to a head injury.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have had a head injury or an unexplained or sudden feeling of severe pressure in the head, paralysis, difficulty speaking, a seizure, a change in vision, or a change in level of alertness, such as passing out.

For infants and young children unable to communicate, seek immediate medical care (call 911) for a head injury or such symptoms as vomiting coupled with drowsiness or lethargy, or bulging of the soft spot on top of the head (fontanel).


What other symptoms might occur with pressure in the head?

Pressure in the head can be accompanied by other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition, a person’s age, and individual factors. In some cases, symptoms may also involve other body systems, such as the cardiovascular, digestive and respiratory systems. For instance, a migraine headache is often accompanied by Read more about pressure in headsymptoms


What causes pressure in the head?

A feeling of pressure in the head can be caused by a wide array of mild-to-serious injuries, diseases or conditions.

Causes of head pressure or headache

The most common causes of a feeling of pressure in the head or headache are:

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 8, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves