What are the causes of head pressure?

Updated November 21, 2016

Head pressure can be extremely painful and can interfere with sleep, concentration and the ability to function well. There are many causes of head pressure; some of them benign and easily remedied and some of them serious, requiring significant medical attention. Head pressure can begin as a headache that becomes worse or it can be a symptom of a sinus infection, head trauma or even a brain tumour. If head pressure continues beyond several days, it is important to see a doctor to rule out serious health problems, particularly if the head pressure has come on suddenly.

Sinus Infection

According to Wrong Diagnosis one of the causes of head pressure can be a sinus infection. Sinus infections are very common throughout the year, with an estimated 37 million cases every year. Often they start out with a stuffy nose, but symptoms depend on which sinus cavity is infected. Usually people think they have a cold or they may even think they have a case of the flu. If a sinus infection does not resolve on its own within a few days, then see a doctor for an antibiotic prescription which will help with the infection.


Another cause of head pressure can be allergies, according to Wrong Diagnosis. Sinus allergies can occur at any time of the year and usually they are seasonal. They may be due to pollen in the air from trees, blooming plants and grass. Another cause for allergies is mould and dust. The symptoms of allergies include a runny nose, nasal congestion, postnasal drainage and watery eyes. Head pressure due to allergies can be alleviated by taking antihistamine medication, which can be found over the counter at drug stores. For more severe or continuing allergic sinus reactions, see a doctor.

Brain Tumor

According to Wrong Diagnosis, another cause for head pressure can be a brain tumour. Brain tumours occur in the many places in the brain and are very serious. The symptoms of a brain tumour are head pressure, headaches, seizures, nausea and vomiting. In order to determine if there is a brain tumour present, a doctor may order an MRI or CT scan of the head. A biopsy will determine if the tumour is malignant (meaning it has the capability to spread to other places in the body) or benign (meaning it will not spread).

High Blood Pressure

According to Wrong Diagnosis, one of the most frequent causes of head pressure is high blood pressure. This is a very common condition, affecting almost 50 million Americans, many of which are not diagnosed. The symptoms of high blood pressure include headache, head pressure, ringing or buzzing in the ears, morning headaches and dizziness. High blood pressure is treated with lifestyle changes, including losing weight, reducing sodium and increasing exercise, along with medication.

Tension Headache

Wrong Diagnosis also indicates that tension headaches can be a cause of head pressure. A tension headache refers both to the stress that may be triggering the headache and head pressure, along with the tension that occurs in the neck and upper back muscles and the scalp. As these muscles pull tighter and tighter, head pressure increases. The symptoms of a tension headache are headache, head pressure, neck pain, upper back pain and pain behind the eyes or in the forehead. Tension headaches are treated with relaxation techniques, muscle relaxer medications and NSAID medications to relieve pain.

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About the Author

Viktoria Carella has been a full-time freelance writer for seven years and writes mainly on health topics along with other topics such as home improvement, SEO and more. Carella has been writing for Demand Studios for several months and has been published in her neighborhood newspaper on several occasions.