Tingling in Head: 7 Common Causes & What to Do

Updated in July 2023

Tingling in the head may be a sign of certain health conditions, like dental issues, multiple sclerosis, migraines, anxiety or diabetes. Although it is uncomfortable, waves of tingling that occur in isolation may not be of serious concern. It typically resolves in a few hours with just rest. 

Many patients report tingling in the head as a “weird feeling in the head that comes and goes.” Some may experience other additional symptoms, like dizziness, blurred vision or fatigue. 

If the tingling in your head does not resolve on its own, or if the tingling is very intense, you should seek medical attention for assessment, testing and possible treatment. 

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What causes head tingling?

The most common causes of tingling in the head include: 

1. Migraines

A tingling sensation in the head and face may occur during migraines and auras. This tingling can emerge with other symptoms, like intense headaches, blurred vision and light sensitivity. Read more about different migraine symptoms and who is most at risk. 

What to do: You should eliminate possible migraine triggers from the diet, like caffeine, chocolate and alcohol. Regular exercise and adequate rest can also help to relieve migraines. Moderate to severe symptoms may need medical management with medications, as directed by a neurologist. Learn more about the different migraine treatment options.

2. Stress and anxiety

Anxiety attacks or stress episodes can lead to the release of cortisol (the stress hormone). High cortisol levels may increase brain activity and blood flow to the brain, which may cause a tingling sensation in the head and other parts of the body. 

Check-out how an anxiety attack can present that you can identify one and take action. 

What to do: Tingling can be relieved with breathing exercises and removal from stressful situations. Adequate sleep and regular exercise and also help to reduce stress and anxiety. See which herbs for anxiety can help to reduce symptoms like tingling when taken in tea form. 

3. Sinusitis

Sinusitis is associated with inflammation of the nasal mucosa and sinuses. It can cause a build-up of discharge within the sinuses, leading to nerve compression in the facial nerves and subsequent waves of tingling. 

Sinusitis can also cause symptoms like a stuffed nose, runny nose and headaches. 

What to do: Discomfort can be relieved by removing nasal mucus with nasal irrigation. Ideally, you should be assessed by a doctor to evaluate the need for antibiotics or corticosteroids. Read more about different ways you can treat a sinus infection at home to relieve tingling, pressure and discharge. 

4. Head injuries

Head or brain injuries can compromise nerves in the area or blood flow to the head, both which can cause tingling that affects the face as well. Learn more about face tingling and what else can cause it. 

What to do: Head injuries require immediate medical attention. The doctor will assess the presenting symptoms and order testing to identify any brain damage and start treatment as appropriate. 

5. Dental problems

Dental procedures, like tooth extraction or implants, can cause tingling in the head. This is due to the anesthesia used or due to damage to facial nerves. In addition, other tooth problems, like abscesses, can cause inflammation of tissues and nerves, leading to a tingling sensation. 

What to do: Usually tingling from dental problems is temporary. However, you should see a dentist if tingling does not resolve within hours. The dentist may recommend anti-inflammatories to decrease discomfort and inflammation. 

6. Diabetes

People who do not receive or adhere to proper diabetes treatment may experience tingling from nerve damage. It is more common to experience tingling in the extremities, however nerve damage can also occur in the face and head. 

The main symptoms of unmanaged diabetes include weight loss, thirst, frequent urination and blurry vision. 

What to do: Diet changes are imperative, and diabetics should be instructed to reduce their carbohydrate and fat intake. Regular physical exercise and treatment compliance are also very important. The doctor may order urine and blood tests to evaluate for possible complications and to determine a more targeted treatment. 

Read about the diabetes medication that is commonly prescribed to keep sugar levels within range. 

7. Multiple sclerosis

Numbness and tingling are common symptoms of multiple sclerosis, which is an autoimmune disease that attacks the nervous system. Other common symptoms include muscular weakness, lack of coordination, memory loss and dizziness.

What to do: If you suspect multiple sclerosis, you should consult a neurologist for testing and diagnosis. Based on results, the doctor will initiate appropriate treatment. 

If you feel this sensation specifically in the scalp. check out a list of what can cause scalp tingling and what to do.

When to see a doctor 

You should consult a doctor if the tingling persists for more than 3 days without any apparent You should also be assessed if the tingling occurs with other symptoms, like: 

  • Tingling in other parts of the body (read more about what causes tingling in the body)
  • Total or partial facial paralysis
  • Headaches 

You should monitor for tingling in different body parts and keep track of how long it occurs for, as this information can help the doctor reach a more specific diagnosis. The doctor may order further testing, like an MRI of the head to investigate for possible nerve damage, as well a blood tests to rule out other conditions.