Forehead pain can be uncomfortable, painful, and distracting. It can make focusing on your day difficult. But the good news is, forehead pain is rarely a sign of a serious health problem.
In this article, we’ll explore common types of forehead pain, why they happen, and what might be done to treat them when they occur.
Types of forehead pain and symptoms
The type of forehead pain you experience can tell you a lot about what’s happening inside your head. These are the most common types of forehead pain:
A deep, throbbing forehead pain may feel like it’s pulsating or coming in waves. It often seems “weighty” and feels like it’s putting a great deal of pressure directly onto your forehead. It may be persistent and last for hours if you don’t treat it. This type of forehead pain may be caused by migraine, a hangover, tension, or other issues.
Sharp, stabs of piercing pain can occur. These are often short in duration but intense in severity. Brain freeze, that painful sensation that occurs when you eat or drink something cold, is a common cause, as is a cluster headache. More serious issues, like an aneurysm, are also possible. However, these are rare.
Similar to throbbing pain, shooting pain feels continuous, but it may seem like trails of pain are shooting away from your forehead. This type of pain is common with conditions like hypertension and infection.
Other symptoms that may accompany forehead pain
In addition to forehead pain, you may experience other symptoms. These can give clues as to what you’re experiencing. For example, if you have forehead pain and are feeling weak and lethargic, you may be experiencing low blood sugar.
The following symptoms can occur with forehead pain:
fever and chills
feeling weak or shaky
intense pressure in your ears
irritation or agitation
pain in the neck, jaw, or scalp
When you begin feeling forehead pain, consider any other symptoms or changes you may be experiencing. This can help you figure out the possible causes of your forehead pain.
Serious symptoms that may indicate life threatening conditions
Forehead pain can be a sign of a severe and life threatening condition, like stroke or hemorrhage. In these rare cases, it’s important to take immediate action. Seek medical care by calling 911 or visiting an emergency department.
These serious symptoms include:
weakness or numbness, especially in one side of the body
a change in the level of alertness or consciousness, such as passing out or becoming unresponsive
slurring speech or being unable to talk
a sudden change in vision, such as a total loss of vision or pain in one eye
a change in mental status, such as a sudden onset of confusion, delusions, or hallucinations
Causes of forehead pain
Forehead pain is often a symptom of a common issue, like a cold or headache. These other causes may be responsible for forehead pain, too:
Infection. A sinus infection commonly causes headaches, facial pain, and discomfort. A cold or flu can also cause this symptom.
Inflammation. Swelling and inflammation can increase pressure around your forehead and temples. This may be caused by illness or an increased amount of fluid in the soft tissues of your head and neck.
Headaches. Migraine, cluster headaches, tension headaches, frontal lobe headaches — they’re all responsible for a variety of symptoms, including forehead pain.
Hormonal changes. Hormones affect a great deal of our well-being, and a sudden shift can cause symptoms like headaches.
Eye strain. Reading, using the computer, or playing on a small screen may all lead to painful discomfort in your forehead.
Withdrawal. A hangover can cause a headache, but substance withdrawal can, too. Quitting caffeine, alcohol, or other substances can cause a number of symptoms, including forehead pain.
Meningitis. A more serious infection, meningitis, can also account for forehead pain. This infection occurs in the sac of fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord. This infection is a serious condition and requires immediate medical attention.
Aneurysm. An aneurysm in the brain may cause symptoms. The bulge may put pressure on soft tissues, and that can lead to a persistent headache.
Stroke. In rare cases, a sudden, sharp forehead pain may be a sign of a stroke.
How to treat forehead pain
Treatment for forehead pain will depend on the underlying cause. The most common treatment options include:
Over-the-counter medications. Aspirin or ibuprofen may ease forehead pain until the underlying issues resolve. Decongestants may ease symptoms of a sinus infection or cold.
Prescription drugs. If you have a history of migraine or certain types of headache, your doctor may prescribe medication to help ease the symptoms of these headaches.
Resting. For people with migraine, resting in a dark room with a cool compress may help. Rest is also good for many other potential forehead pain causes.
Botox. The injectable drug has shown great benefits for people who frequently experience migraine attacks.
Acupuncture. Less commonly, acupuncture is used to treat frequent and recurring headaches.
Massage. This type of physical therapy may help relax muscles that have tightened up because of tension or stress.
Physical therapy. A physical therapist can work with you to overcome any physical trauma or injury that is leading to forehead pain.
Surgery. In rare cases, surgery may be needed to correct an issue, like an aneurysm, that is causing forehead pain.
When to see a doctor
In many cases, the forehead pain will resolve on its own as the underlying issue improves. But if the pain is persistent, or if it interferes with your ability to perform daily tasks, it’s important to talk with your doctor.
Some underlying causes will need medical treatment before they will stop causing symptoms.
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Are there ways to prevent forehead pain?
Treatment of forehead pain relies on understanding what causes your forehead pain in the first place.
Common prevention techniques may include:
Practicing relaxation. Tension and stress headaches may occur less frequently with relaxation options like deep breathing, yoga, and massage.
Eating regularly. Low blood sugar and hunger headaches won’t be a problem if you maintain a regular eating pattern with healthful, filling meals.
Avoiding certain activities. If headaches worsen when you’re playing video games, riding in a back seat, or reading in dim light, avoid these as best you can.
Watching your blood pressure. Hypertension headaches can be quite painful. Keeping your blood pressure low will help your head and your heart.