Location Clues for Headaches

When your head hurts, you only want the pain to GO AWAY. See the head locations indicated for possible causes and treatments. If headaches persist, talk with a doctor.

Eye Area

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Cluster Headache

Symptoms: frequently develops during sleep and also have tearing in the eye, nasal congestion, face flushed. May last for several hours.

Causes: alcoholic beverages, excessive smoking

Treatment: oxygen; ergotamine; sumatriptan, intranasal anesthetic

Eye Strain

Symptoms: bilateral pain in the front of the head

Causes: muscle imbalance, uncorrected vision, astigmatism

Treatment: corrected vision

Frontal Area

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Fasting Headache

Symptoms: mild to moderately intense pain, diffused (not pulsing)

Causes: insufficient food or hydration

Treatment: eating (may take up to 72 hours for pain to subside)

One Side of Head

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Migraine With or Without Aura

Symptoms with aura: warning signs such as visual disturbance or arm or leg numbness; after warning, severe pain

Symptoms without aura: no warning signs; severe, one-sided throbbing pain, may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, cold hands, sensitivity to light and sound

Causes: may be hereditary, food-induced, hormonal, excessive hunger, change in altitude, weather, lights, excessive smoking, stress

Treatment: medication may be effective for migraines with aura; when pain begins, use ice packs, products with caffeine, ergotamine, prescribed medications or steroids; please see a doctor if you have migraines

Nasal Area

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Sinus Headache

Symptoms: gnawing pain that often increases throughout the day

Causes: infection, nasal polyps or other blockage such as a deviated septum

Treatment: aspirin; acetaminophen; NSAIDs; antibiotics

General / All Over

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Fever Headache

Symptoms: pain that accompanies fever

Causes: infection swelling of the blood vessels in the head

Treatment: aspirin; acetaminophen; NSAIDs; antibiotics

Hangover Headache

Symptoms: throbbing pain and nausea

Causes: alcohol (dilates and irritates blood vessels in the brain and surrounding tissue)

Treatment: liquids (including broth); fructose such as honey or tomato juice)

Hunger Headache

Symptoms: pain before mealtime

Causes: skipping or delayed meals, low blood sugar, muscle tension

Treatment: regular, nourishing meals with adequate protein and complex carbohydrates

Hypertension Headache

Symptoms: generalized or ‘hairband’ area pain that is most severe in the morning, diminishing during the day

Causes: severe hypertension

Treatment: managing blood pressure levels, such as with medication



National Headache Foundation

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