Forehead Headache: 6 Common Causes & What to Do

Medical review: Dr. Clarisse Bezerra
Family Doctor
August 2022

Headaches are a very common symptom and can occur at any point in life for many reasons. One of the most common types of headache is felt felt in the forehead region. This pain can radiate to the temples and cause a great amount of discomfort. 

A forehead headache is usually related with excess stress or tension, and it can be relieved with rest and a soothing tea, like passionfruit, chamomile or valerian. It may also be related to other mild health conditions, like sinusitis or vision problems, which require a more specific treatment. 

If you are unsure what your headache is related to, if it does not improve with home remedies, or if it lasts for 3 days, you should seek medical attention to see whether there is an underlying cause that requires treatment. 

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The main causes of forehead headaches are: 

1. Tension headache 

Tension headaches are very common and can emerge for many reasons, like muscle tension, fasting for too long, poor sleep or intense physical activity. 

This type of headache is often confused for a migraine, which is associated with a much more intense pressure around the forehead. Tension headaches, however, will not have other classic migraine symptoms, like nausea, throbbing or light sensitivity. Check-out the common symptoms of a migraine to determine what kind of headache you are having. 

What to do: Normally, the pain improves with rest and relaxation. You may find relief with a soothing tea made with chamomile, passionfruit or valerian. If the pain does not improve, you can also use analgesics, like acetaminophen or aspirin, as directed by a doctor. 

2. Eye fatigue 

Straining your eyes for long periods can lead to eye fatigue, which may result in a forehead headache. This pain is felt in the forehead as well as over the eyes, and is described as a pressure or weight over this area.

This type of headache is most common after completing tasks that require your full attention, like reading or using a computer. It can also be felt in periods of stress or after prolonged sitting with bad posture. Although it is not as common, eye fatigue can also be a result of vision problems, like myopia or astigmatism, and may be an initial sign of an eye condition that should be assessed by a doctor.

What to do: To prevent this type of headache, you should ensure you are taking regular break from demanding tasks. To treat it, you should rest with your eyes clothes and stretch your neck. You may find relief with these neck and back stretches.  If you notice headaches frequently or if it does not improve, it may be related to a vision issue that requires further assessment. 

3. Sinusitis

Forehead headaches are commonly felt by people who have recurrent sinusitis. This type of headache occurs due to inflammation within the nasal sinuses, and is often accompanied by other sinusitis symptoms, like pressure around the eyes, runny nose, plugged nose, low grade fever and fatigue. Learn more about the common symptoms of a sinus infection and how to relieve them. 

Sinus infections are more common during the winter, as cold and flu viruses that cause these infections are more prevalent. However, it can also occur in the spring, especially in people who suffer from seasonal allergies. 

What to do: A great way to relieve headaches caused by sinus infections is to perform nasal irrigation with saline solution. This can help empty any accumulated discharge in the sinuses and relieve inflammation. You can also apply warm compresses directly on the face. If you have frequent episodes of sinusitis, you shoudl see a doctor to identify an underlying cause and initiate treatment with specific medication. 

4. Cluster headache 

Although it is rare, cluster headaches can also cause an intense and sudden pan in the forehead area. This pain can radiate around the head, as if you had a strap wrapped around your forehead. Cluster headaches can last for several minutes to hours, and persists for several days. Many times, people will experience more than one episode per day. 

It is not fully known why cluster headaches occur, but it is noted in people with a family history of them. 

What to do: Cluster headaches can usually only be relieved with medication, like sumatriptan. You should see a family doctor or neurologist to determine the best treatment approach for you. 

5. Giant cell arteritis

Giant cell arteritis is a type of inflammation that affects the external arteries that transport blood to the brain. These arteries are found in the temporal area of the head, which can cause a headache that is most felt in the forehead. 

This condition is also referred to as temporal arteritis and tends to cause intense and recurring pain that is accompanied by other symptoms like pain that worsens with eating or talking, difficulty seeing and fatigue. It is most common in people over 50 years old and of Black descent. 

What to do: Because it is a recurrent problem, giant cell arteritis should be evaluated by a neurologist or angiologist, so that a treatment plan can be put in place to prevent further flare-ups. Treatment usually involves the use of corticosteroids to relieve symptoms. 

6. High blood pressure

Changes to blood pressure, especially when it is high, can lead to pain in the forehead. This pain is felt as a weight or pressure, and can occur due to stress, fatigue or from not taking blood pressure medication. 

Generally, this pain starts in the back of the neck and radiates to the entire head, where it is most intense in the forehead. IT can also cause other symptoms like blurred vision, dizziness and palpitations. 

What to do: It is important to check your blood pressure medication and take any of your prescribed blood pressure medication. Relaxing activities, ensuring your stress is managed and maintaining a healthy diet are also key factors in keeping blood pressure under control. 

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Edited by Tua Saude editing team in August 2022. Medical review completed by Dr. Clarisse Bezerra - Family Doctor in August 2022.

References

  • LONGO, Dan L. et al.. Medicina interna de Harrison. 18.ed. São Paulo: AMGH Editora, 2013. 2795-2796.
  • MEDICAL NEWS TODAY. What to know about frontal lobe headaches. Available on: <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321086.php>. Access in 30 May 2019
Show more references
  • HEALTHLINE. What You Should Know About Frontal Lobe Headaches. Available on: <https://www.healthline.com/health/frontal-lobe-headache>. Access in 30 May 2019
Medical review:
Dr. Clarisse Bezerra
Family Doctor
Dr. Bezerra possesses a medical degree and specializes in family medicine. She is licensed to practice under CRM-CE licence #16976.