Headache on Left Side of Head: Here’s all you Need to Know

headache on left side of head and eye can be caused by migraine, vasculitis, cluster headaches

Headache on left Side of Head

Headache on left side of head and eye can be caused by migraine, vasculitis, cluster headaches, or other headache types. A headache is frequently treatable at home with over-the-counter medications and remedies. There are several causes why you could only feel pressure or pain on the left side of your head. Discover the potential causes and when to call your doctor by continuing your reading.

A headache often goes away in a few hours and is not a reason for concern. However, severe headaches on either side or pain that doesn’t go away might be an indication of a more serious condition. So, if your headaches are severe, ongoing, or in any other way concerning, talk to a medical professional.

This article explores the symptoms, causes, and treatments for headaches on the left side. It also provides more information about when to see a doctor.

Table of Contents

What does a headache on the left side mean?

There are several reasons why a headache on the left side may occur. A person may be able to control their pain and determine when to seek medical attention by being aware of the potential causes and their treatments. Globally, 50% of adults suffer from a headache disorder. While some headaches are minor and may be treated at home, some are more serious and require medical attention.

If a headache occurs with blurred vision, nausea, or any other symptom that causes concern, seek medical attention. Also, if a person has a sudden, severe headache and weakness on one side of the body or confusion, they need emergency care.

Types of headaches

There are numerous distinct types of headaches, including tension and migraine. Knowing which one you have will enable you to receive the appropriate treatment. Some of the most typical are listed below:

Typically, headaches are categorized by doctors as “primary” or “secondary.” The pain is the major symptom for someone who has a primary headache. A secondary headache is brought on by another medical condition, such as:

  • Brain tumor
  • Stroke
  • An infection

The headaches that result can occur in any location, including the left side.

Migraine headaches

Migraine can cause a moderate to severe headache on the left side. The condition affects 12% of people in the United States, including 17% of women and 6% of men. A migraine headache may throb and be worse on one side. The pain may begin around the eye or temple, then spread across the head.

Symptoms of migraine include: An intense, throbbing pain, often one side of the head. The pain is often accompanied by symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sound and light sensitivity. Migraine can also come with or without aura. Aura is the change in vision, speech, and other sensations that occur before the migraine attack starts.

One rare type of migraine, called a hemiplegic migraine, can also cause weakness in the limbs and face on one side of the body. A migraine episode typically lasts 4–72 hours. A person may need to lie down in a darkened room and rest until the symptoms pass.

Experts are unsure of the precise reasons, although genetic predispositions and environmental triggers could be involved.

Common triggers include:

  • stress, a factor in 80% of cases
  • hormonal changes, present in 65% of cases
  • certain foods, such as alcohol, cheese, and chocolate
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • bright lights or lights that flicker
  • odors, such as perfumes

Tension headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache worldwide. They affect about 75 percent of adults.

Tension headache symptoms: A band tightening around your head, squeezing your face and scalp. You can feel the pressure along both sides and the back of your head. Your shoulders and neck might also be sore. Read Tension Headache – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Cluster headaches

What is a cluster headache? Rare but extremely painful headaches, cluster headaches are more frequently reported by men than women. Their pattern gives them their name: Over the course of days or weeks, clusters of headaches develop. Remissions—headache-free intervals that can last for months or years—come after these cluster attacks.

A cluster headache can cause severe pain on one side of the head, often around the eye. The pain can be very severe, and it may feel sharp, burning, or piercing. Intense pain on one side of your head. The eye on the affected side might be red and watery. Other symptoms include a stuffed or runny nose, sweating, and flushing of the face.

Common features include:

  • pain behind one eye, one temple, or one side of the forehead
  • pain that starts at night, usually 1–2 hours after going to sleep
  • less intense pain that may continue for up to 3 hours
  • pain that peaks after 5–10 minutes
  • severe pain that lasts 30–60 minutes

Related symptoms may include:

  • a blocked or runny nose
  • a drooping eyelid
  • watering and redness in one eye
  • a flushed or sweaty face

Although the specific cause is unknown, doctors think it may be related to the hypothalamus, a region of the brain, and the trigeminal system, which controls the blood vessels and nerves in the face and eyes. Cluster headaches often happen at the same time each day. They may also be more common in the spring or fall, and people may confuse them with allergy headaches. They usually affect people aged 20–50 years and 80% of them are males.

Cervicogenic headaches

This type of headache can result from an injury to the neck, such as whiplash, or arthritis or other changes in the vertebrae at the top of the spine. The frequency of the pain and other symptoms might vary from person to person, but they may be cyclical and flare up frequently.

It can cause:

  • moderate to severe pain that starts in the neck and spreads to the eyes and face on one side
  • a stiff neck and reduced range of motion
  • pain around the eyes, neck, shoulders, and arms
  • nausea
  • blurred vision
  • sensitivity to light and sound
  • Steroid injections and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil), may help manage the pain. With treatment, cervicogenic headaches should resolve within 3 months, though they may recur.

Sinus headaches

Rare yet severe headaches called sinus headaches are often mistaken for migraines. They originate from an inflammation-accompanied sinus infection.

Sinus headache symptoms: Intense pressure and pain in the sinus cavities, usually on both sides of the head but possibly isolated to one. Could also lead to pain in the ear, eye, or jaw. Symptoms will also include a thick nasal discharge. See 5 Home Remedies for Sinus Infection Treatment


Vasculitis is a type of inflammatory blood vessel condition that can result from an autoimmune response in which the body reacts as if the blood vessels are harmful substances. A common type of vasculitis is giant cell arteritis, also called temporal arteritis. This affects blood vessels in the head. It usually occurs in people aged over 50 years.

Vasculitis can cause a headache that is similar to a “thunderclap headache.” The pain is severe, and there is often no clear cause. With a thunderclap headache, the pain is most intense within 1 minute and lasts for at least 5 minutes. With a similar headache caused by vasculitis, the pain may take a little longer to develop.

Other symptoms can include:

  • a sudden loss of vision
  • pain on one side of the head or behind the eye
  • pain when chewing
  • Anyone who experiences these symptoms should receive medical advice. Not treating vasculitis can result in permanent vision loss.

Chronic headaches

Chronic headaches can be any type — including migraine or tension headaches. They’re called chronic because they happen at least 15 days a month for 6 months or more.

Chronic headaches symptoms: A dull throbbing pain, intense pain on one side of the head, or a vice-like squeezing, depending on which type of headaches you get.

Brain aneurysm

A brain aneurysm is a weak spot in a blood vessel in the brain. It does not usually cause symptoms unless it ruptures. In this case, a potentially life threatening hemorrhage can result. A person may develop a thunderclap headache, which involves sudden, severe pain. They may feel as if they have been hit hard on the head, and they may also have weakness on one side of the body.

Other possible symptoms include:

  • vision changes
  • pain or stiffness in the neck
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sensitivity to light
  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness
  • seizures

What causes headache on the left side of the head?

Headache on the left side of your head can mainly be caused by migraine, vasculitis, cluster headaches, or other headache forms. A headache is frequently treatable at home with over-the-counter medications and relaxation. However, left side headache causes range from lifestyle factors like skipping meals to overusing medications.

Anyone with a sudden, severe headache and weakness on one side of the body or confusion requires emergency care.

Lifestyle factors

Making lifestyle adjustments might significantly reduce the frequency of your headaches. Any of the following reasons may cause a headache:

  • Alcohol: Beer, wine, and other alcoholic drinks contain ethanol, a chemical that triggers headaches by widening blood vessels.
  • Skipping meals: Your brain needs sugar (glucose) from foods to function optimally. When you don’t eat, your blood sugar level falls. This is called hypoglycemia. A headache is one of the symptoms.
  • Stress: When you’re under stress, your body releases “fight, flight, or freeze” chemicals. These chemicals tense your muscles and change blood flow, both of which cause headaches.
  • Food: Certain foods are known to cause headaches, especially ones that contain preservatives. Common food triggers include aged cheeses, red wine, nuts, and processed meats like cold cuts, hot dogs, and bacon.
  • Lack of sleep: Insomnia can set off headaches. Once you have headaches, the pain can also make it harder to sleep at night. People with sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to get headaches, in part because their sleep is disrupted.

Infections and allergies

Symptoms of respiratory infections like the flu or a cold frequently include headaches. Both fever and congested sinuses can cause headaches. Allergies induce nasal congestion, which results in pain and pressure behind the cheekbones and forehead, which starts headaches.

Serious infections like encephalitis and meningitis cause more intense headaches. These illnesses also produce symptoms like seizures, high fever, and a stiff neck.

Medication overuse

If you use headache medications more than two or three days a week, you risk developing additional headaches. Rebound headaches and medication overuse headaches are two terms used to describe these headaches. They start as soon as you get up in the morning and happen practically every day.

Medications that can cause overuse headaches include:

  • aspirin
  • acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • ibuprofen (Advil)
  • naproxen (Naprosyn)
  • aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine combined (Excedrin)
  • triptans, such as sumatriptan (Imitrex) and zolmitriptan (Zomig)
  • ergotamine derivatives, such as Cafergot
  • prescription pain medications such as oxycodone (Oxycontin), tramadol (Ultram), and hydrocodone (Vicodin)

Neurological causes

Nerve problems can sometimes be the source of head pain.

  • Occipital neuralgia: The occipital nerves run from the top of your spinal cord, up your neck, to the base of your skull. Irritation of these nerves can cause an intense, severe, stabbing pain in the back of your head or the base of your skull. The pain lasts from a few seconds to several minutes.
  • Giant cell arteritis: Also called temporal arteritis, this condition is caused by inflammation of blood vessels — including the temporal arteries along the side of the head. Symptoms can include headaches and pain in the jaw, shoulders, and hips, along with visual changes.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia: This condition affects the trigeminal nerve, which provides feeling to your face. It causes a severe and sudden jolt of shock-like pain in your face.

Other causes

Pain on the left side of your head may also result from:

  • Tight headgear: Wearing a helmet, glasses, or other protective headgear that’s too tight can put pressure on one or both sides of the head and cause pain.
  • Concussion: A hard hit to the head can cause this type of traumatic brain injury. Concussions produce symptoms like headaches, confusion, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Glaucoma: This rise in pressure inside the eye can lead to blindness. Along with eye pain and blurred vision, its symptoms can include a severe headache.
  • High blood pressure: Normally, high blood pressure doesn’t cause symptoms. But in some people, headaches can be a sign.
  • Stroke: Blood clots can block blood vessels to the brain, cutting off blood flow and causing a stroke. Bleeding inside the brain can also cause a stroke. A sudden, severe headache is one warning sign of a stroke.
  • Brain tumor: A tumor can cause an intense, sudden headache along with other symptoms such as vision loss, speech problems, confusion, trouble walking, and seizures.

When to see a doctor

The majority of the time, headaches are not significant and are easily treatable. But occasionally, they could be an indication of something more severe. If a person has a headache that is severe or persistent or if the pain occurs with any other symptoms, they should receive medical advice.

Additional symptoms include:

  • blurred vision
  • fever
  • sweating
  • nausea and vomiting
  • weakness on one side of the body

It is also important to consult a doctor if:

  • Headaches first develop after the age of 50.
  • There is a significant change in the pattern of headaches.
  • Headaches steadily get worse.
  • There are changes to the person’s mental function or personality.
  • Headaches occur after a blow to the head.
  • Headaches make daily life hard to manage.
  • Anyone with a severe, sudden headache should receive emergency care, as this may be a sign of a stroke or aneurysm.

Treatment and Prevention

You may have heard of one of the many headache remedies or treatments throughout the years. And many people can treat a headache with over-the-counter medication and rest. Some of the more popular ones to try are listed below:

At-home treatments

Sometimes a simple home remedy is all it takes to get rid of a headache. How to stop headache immediately at home:

  • Apply a warm or cool compress to your head, neck, or both.
  • To ease stress, soak in a warm bath, practice deep breathing, or listen to calming music.
  • Take a nap, and make sure you’re getting plenty of rest at night.
  • Eat something if your blood sugar is low.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • Use a massage tool to help relieve tension in your neck and shoulders.
  • Try a pillow designed to relieve neck pain.

Clinical treatments

Depending on the kind and intensity of your headaches, your doctor may suggest a range of treatments. Options consist of:

  • medications such as beta blockers, antihistamines, muscle relaxants, or antidepressants
  • oxygen mask treatments
  • occipital nerve blocks or steroids
  • biofeedback therapy
  • vitamin or supplement
  • a new or different eye glass prescription

When possible, the following measures may help prevent some types of headache:

  • avoiding or managing stress
  • having a regular sleep pattern
  • avoiding known triggers
  • A doctor may prescribe stronger pain relief medications for severe pain.

Bottom line

headache on the left side may result from migraine, vasculitis, cluster headaches, or other types. One side of your head may experience pain with a few distinct types of headaches. Usually, over-the-counter medications and alterations to your lifestyle, such as rest and relaxation, can help you get rid of these headaches.

If your headaches are severe or are affecting your daily life, see a doctor. Your doctor can determine the cause of your headaches and make therapy recommendations to help you cope with the pain. Anyone with a sudden, severe headache and weakness on one side of the body or confusion requires emergency care.


Why do I have headache on the left side of my head?

When their source is unclear, headaches can be upsetting. Primary and secondary headaches fall into two categories, and each can present with a variety of symptoms. However, they can also share symptoms, which makes it challenging to tell one from the other. A headache on the left side of the head is a perfect example. This might be a primary or secondary headache that results from a migraine, cluster headache, or even a tension-type headache.

What does a headache on the left side mean?

Left-sided headaches can be caused by migraine, vasculitis, cluster headaches, or other headache types. Headaches are often a symptom of respiratory infections like a cold or the flu. Fever and blocked sinus passages can both set off headaches. Allergies trigger headaches via congestion in the sinuses, which causes pain and pressure behind the forehead and cheekbones.

Serious infections like encephalitis and meningitis cause more intense headaches. These illnesses also produce symptoms like seizures, high fever, and a stiff neck.

What does a headache on the left side behind the eye mean?

Headache on the left side behind eye: Extreme pain on one side of the head, occasionally behind one eye, can result from a migraine. This pain might persist up to 72 hours. There may be other symptoms in addition to a headache behind the eyes. If you have allergies or sinus conditions, they might indicate a cluster headache, tension headache, or even sinus headaches that repeat. The symptoms of a headache may appear when you are anxious or agitated.

Why do I have a headache on the left side of forehead?

There are several causes of headaches on the left side of the forehead. They may be symptoms of illnesses, underlying health conditions, allergies, medication side effects, concussions, or be brought on by lifestyle choices like sleep disturbances. The most common type of headache is caused by tension and stress. Headache on the left side of forehead may also be a symptom of primary headache disorders, including migraine and cluster headaches.

What causes a headache on the left side?

Headache on the left side of your head causes range from lifestyle factors like skipping meals, alcohol, stress, lack of sleep to overusing medications. Anyone with a sudden, severe headache and weakness on one side of the body or confusion requires emergency care. See Tension Headache: Causes, Symptoms and How to Treat


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