What are the causes of a tingling in the head?

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A tingling sensation, or paresthesia, in the head can be caused by a number of different conditions. This symptom may also be described by some as numbness or burning. Describing your symptoms as accurately as possible to your physician helps in finding the correct diagnosis.

Several possible causes are attributable to nerve damage, though diabetes and even the common cold can cause paresthesia in the head. Head tingling can also be caused by an injury such as a concussion. Some drugs or medications may cause tingling in the head in some people.

Injury and Nerve Damage

Injuries, especially those to the neck and spine, cause paresthesia in various parts of the body--depending on where the injury is. For instance, a herniated disk puts pressure on nearby nerves, causing tingling or a loss of sensation in part of the body. Scar tissue or infection can also put pressure on nerves throughout the body, causing a similar reaction. If you have been in a car accident or other type of trauma situation recently, your doctor can look in to this as a possible cause of injury that could be producing a tingling sensation in your head.

Drugs and Medications

Both legally prescribed and illicit drugs cause tingling in the head in some people, according to the Institute for Substance Abuse Treatment Evaluation in Tennessee. Prescribed or illicit amphetamine use may cause tingling in the head, along with a variety of other symptoms. If you're on prescribed medications or take drugs, it's possible that tingling in the head is a symptom of a drug you're using. You should see a physician to rule out other possible causes and seek treatment through drug abuse treatment, or a change in the type or dosage of legally prescribed medications.


There are several nerve disorders caused by diabetes in up to 70 per cent of all cases. These cause pain, tingling or numbness in various areas of the body and usually occur over a period of many years of living with diabetes. Damage to blood vessels, autoimmune factors causing nerve inflammation and poor control of blood sugar levels are thought to be among the contributing factors to the development of such disorders in diabetics.

Colds and Migraines

People may describe a tingling sensation in the head with a cold or migraine. This may be partly due simply to differences in people's description of symptoms. Likely causes of paresthesia in the head during a cold are are congestion and sinus infection. Tingling in the head that accompanies a migraine is because of changes in blood flow.


Diagnosis can be difficult when dealing with paresthesia because of the wide variety of possible causes. Your physician can take a detailed history and complete a thorough physical to locate possible causes and starting points for investigation. A variety of tests may be done depending on individual symptoms--including blood tests, electrolyte levels, thyroid function tests, CT scans, MRI tests, angiograms, X-rays and more. An electromyography may be done to test nerve conduction and stimulation as well.