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Headache on Left Side of Head: Causes and Treatment

Updated on Jul 7, 2021 by Dr. Amr Hosny (Headache Specialist) of Advanced Headache Center

If recurring headaches on the left side of the head make it hard for you to sleep, work or live a normal life, seek medical help. The expert pain specialist Dr.Amr Hosny at Advanced Headache Center is experienced in diagnosing and treating every type of headache. Relying on modern diagnostic equipment and multidisciplinary approaches, they will develop the best solutions to provide quick and lasting relief.

Headaches on the left side of the head can result from migraines, cluster headaches, or even tension-type headaches. The pain comes on slowly or suddenly and may feel sharp or dull and throbbing. In some cases, the pain radiates to the neck, teeth, or behind the eyes. Headache that subsides within a few hours does not cause concern, but intense pain in one side of the head or pain that does not go away can be serious.

There are two main types of headaches, primary and secondary. Both these types are different, but they can have similar symptoms, making it difficult to distinguish one from another. Headaches can be bothersome, especially when you don’t know what is causing them. Finding effective treatment in such a case can be challenging, and you must work with an experienced physician to know more about pain management.

What Causes Headache on the Left Side of Head?

There might be several reasons for one side headache. It could result from lack of sleep, injury to the head, or sinus infection. Migraine or a cluster headache are the most likely causes of left or right-side headache, while tension headaches often cause pain on one side.

Migraine

It is a serious condition that causes headaches on the left side of the head. The pain can be pretty intense and leave you weak and drained. Its symptoms include:

  • Agonizing pain on the left (or even right) side of the head
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to sound (phonophobia)
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Sensitivity to smell
  • Throbbing, stabbing, pounding, or pulsating pain that is often worsened by movement
  • Pain that lasts between six to 72 hours, or sometimes longer

For most people, migraine causes such intense pain that they cannot do anything except seek a dark room and lie down without moving till the pain passes. Migraines are usually triggered by some sound, smell, food, or even by certain types of lighting. Experts believe stress and hormonal changes can also trigger migraines.

The expert doctors recommend pain-relieving medications like ibuprofen to treat migraine-related left side headaches. They also recommend Imitrex depending on your condition. The doctor will treat the headache by going through your medical history, tracking symptoms, and identifying possible triggers. You will have to work with the pain specialist to ensure tailored therapy for lasting relief of frequently occurring migraine pain or headaches that do not respond to treatment.

Tension Headaches

These are the most common type of headaches and affect a large population. Tension headaches usually involve the entire head, but they can also affect the left side in particular, leading to pressure sensation or vise-like grip that worsens with time. These headaches can be associated with neck and shoulder pain and sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and nausea.

Tension headaches can be caused by a variety of muscular problems, such as:

  •  Neck injuries
  • Stress
  • Tight muscles in the neck and shoulders
  • Poor posture
  • Sleeping in a way that causes neck pain

The headache doctor might recommend an anti-inflammation medication like ibuprofen to relieve the underlying cause for a tension headache. Stress therapy or massage also helps to loosen the tight muscles that cause pain.

Cluster Headaches

As evident by their name, cluster headaches occur in clusters and on one side of the head. The pain is severe, occurs behind one eye, and can last anywhere between 15 minutes to three hours a day and continue for six to 12 weeks. These headaches can be chronic too, either with or without a remission period.

These headaches can wake you up from sleep and lead to:

  • Tearing, redness, and congestion of the eye affected
  • Redness and swelling of the face surrounding the eye
  • Drooping of the eyelid
  • Constriction of one pupil

In most cases, these headaches are over before medication can be effective, but frequently occurring pain is not good. The expert doctor at the Advanced Headache Center will run a complete check to determine the reason for recurring pain and prescribe the right treatment.

Other Causes of Headache on Left Side of Head

Sometimes, left side headaches can be secondary and result from some underlying issues such as:

  • Inflammation
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Temporal Arteritis
  • Sinusitis
  • Dissection of the vertebral or carotid artery
  • Strokes and brain tumors might also cause a headache on the left side of the head, but, such a headache is accompanied by double vision, weakness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, and other neurological symptoms.

One side headache can mean different things, but it often points to a group of disorders that need a thorough investigation to provide relief. Headache doctors focus on how these headaches occur and how long they last to narrow down which category your headaches fall under to provide the best treatment. They will do a physical exam, collect medical history and analyze the symptoms to make an accurate diagnosis and manage your pain.

Headache on Left Side of Head Treatment

Typical left-sided headaches can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications. It is essential to use medication according to the doctor’s advice to avoid overdosage and side effects.

The pain specialist might recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen such as Advil
  • Acetaminophen such as Tylenol

Your doctor might advise a combination of lifestyle changes and home remedies and therapies for treating headaches on the left side of the head. They include:

  • Avoiding or managing stress
  • Regulating your sleep patterns or taking naps in between
  • Avoiding known triggers
  • Soaking in a warm bath
  • Practicing deep breathing
  • Listening to some calming music
  • Stronger pain-relieving medications for severe and recurring pain
  • Hot or cold packs that alleviate the pain
  • Eating something in case of low blood sugar

Sometimes pain on the left side of the head can occur at the temple, cause a tingling sensation, and worsens movement. Severe, persistent, and otherwise concerning headaches accompanied by feelings of sickness, weakness, and sharp pain need immediate medical attention and emergency care.

If you frequently suffer from left-sided headaches, schedule an appointment with a headache specialist for accurate diagnosis and consultation. The expert doctors at Advanced Headache Center will direct you in the right direction and find the best way to prevent the pain from affecting your life and health. The physician will also keep an eye on your symptoms and make changes to the treatment plan as needed to ensure lasting relief.

Dr. Amr Hosny has either authored or reviewed and approved this content. Advanced Headache Center 41 5th Avenue,
New York, NY 10003
(646) 419-3105