What Causes Left-Sided Headaches?

image001Whether acute or chronic, a left sided headache can leave you unable to work, play, or do those things you want to do in the normal course of your day. Migraine, sinusitis, aneurysm, cluster headache, tension headache and other conditions might be the underlying causes of such pain. When faced with this, be sure to consult your healthcare provider for a definitive diagnosis while being aware of the symptoms and causes can help improve the treatment plan.

Causes of Left Sided Headache

1. Migraine

Migraines caused by constriction and expansion of the blood vessels in the brain may cause pain and pressure in the head. Often, this pain will be localized on one side of the head. A migraine sufferer may experience visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms. Typically, a migraine may be triggered by stress, smells, sounds, bright lights, food, or alcohol.

Treatment. There is no cure for migraines but your healthcare provider may prescribe one of a number of medications (sumatriptan, sandostatin, DHE 45, etc.) for symptomatic relief. If you have been diagnosed with migraine headaches, there are also home remedies that you can use.

Watch this video for more treatment options.

2. Sinusitis

When the linings of the sinuses in the head become inflamed or infected from pollution or allergies, the resulting condition is sinusitis. Sinusitis is often misdiagnosed as a migraine or some other sort of headache since the headache may be as intense. Typically, the other symptoms associated with migraines are NOT associated with sinusitis.

Treatment. Medical treatment for sinusitis may include prescription antibiotics and nasal sprays for infection or inflammation. Home remedies are based on the concept of preventing sinusitis. These preventative techniques include good hand hygiene, avoidance of air pollution and other sinus irritants, and using a humidifier to add moisture to the air.

3. Aneurysms

An aneurysm is a pouching of an artery in the head that may not cause any symptoms until it becomes very large or bursts. As the pressure in the brain increases, the headache can be sudden and very severe. If the aneurysm is on the left side of the brain, a left sided headache will result.

Treatment. If an aneurysm is causing trouble, the definitive treatment is usually surgery to clip the aneurysm and prevent rupture. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe statins and will recommend that you control your blood pressure and quit smoking if you are a smoker.

4. Cluster Headache

A cluster headache is a severe headache that typically starts on one side of the head but may radiate into other areas of the head and neck. With a cluster headache, you may experience severe pain in the eye, a droopy eyelid, tearing from the eye on the affected side, a runny or stuffy nose, and swelling of the face on the affected side. You may have nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. The headaches may occur every day, and then disappear for a period of time.

Treatment. There is no cure for a cluster headache but your healthcare provider may prescribe one of the medications normally used for migraines (sumatriptan, sandostatin, DHE 45, etc.) for symptomatic relief. If you have been diagnosed with cluster headaches, there are also home remedies that you can use.

5. Tension Headache

A tension headache often presents as a dull pain in the head with localized pressure on one side of the head. You may also experience pain or tightness in your neck and shoulders. Although you may be more sensitive to light with a tension headache, you typically will NOT have other symptoms that are usually associated with migraines.

Treatment. Medical treatment for tension headaches usually involves over-the-counter or mild prescription pain medications. Some healthcare providers may also prescribe antidepressants or muscle relaxers if your tension headaches become chronic. Home remedies can also lessen the impact of a tension headache:

6. Other Causes

There are many other causes including injury to the head or neck, health conditions such as shingles, high blood pressure or heart disease, tension, dehydration, allergic reactions, certain medication interactions, eye strain, problems with your teeth, or even something as simple as sleeping on a pillow that does not support your neck. If you have frequent or very severe headaches, be sure to contact your healthcare provider to find out what is causing the headache.

When to See a Doctor

A headache can be a minor but painful inconvenience or it can be a sign of a much more serious problem. Be sure to see a healthcare provider immediately if you have a headache with fever or stiff neck or if you experience trouble speaking, understanding someone speaking to you, walking, or seeing. If you are having more frequent or more severe headaches or if they are preventing you from doing your normal activities, schedule an appointment to see your healthcare provider.

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