Pressure in the Head: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

November 10, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life

If you’re dealing with symptoms of pressure in your head, there are many potential culprits. Read on as we delve into some possible causes, symptoms, and treatment options for pressure in the head.

What Does Pressure in the Head Feel Like?

Pressure in the head can feel as if something is pushing on your brain. Common symptoms can also include tightness, a band of pressure around the head, throbbing at the sides of the head, a stiff neck, or pain or pressure behind your eyes — similar to many common headache symptoms.

These sensations can present in different areas of the head — such as in the brain, skull, face, or scalp — either separately or simultaneously in several different areas. The sensations can feel mild, moderate, or even severe in intensity.

What Causes Pressure in the Head?

Your head contains many systems, and each system contains many parts. Lobes, sinuses, blood vessels, nerves, and ventricles all play intricate roles in how your head functions to support your brain and the rest of your body.

Moreover, pressure plays a key role in how each system functions. Even the tiniest disruption to the pressure balance in your head can instigate a feeling of pressure or pain because this system is so delicate.

There are various warning signs that you feel head pain or pressure, such as headaches, sinus conditions, ear problems, concussions, and medical conditions. Mental health struggles can also be contributing factors to head pressure.

Let’s take a look at each of these causes in detail below.


Headaches are a very common cause of pressure in the head — many people describe a headache as feeling like a buildup of pressure in the head. There are many different types of headaches that can range in intensity from mild to severe. Each type can present sensations in a different area of the head.

Tension headaches, the most common type of headache, often produce a tight band of pain that wraps around the head almost as if an elastic band tightly squeezes your head. In contrast, a migraine headache can feel all-encompassing and throbbing.

Alternatively, hormonal headaches may be caused by changes due to PMS, perimenopause, or natural hormone fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle.

Cluster headaches may also produce feelings of pressure and pain in the head. However, if you have a particularly severe headache, it is best to consult your healthcare provider for medical advice, especially if your symptoms are reoccurring. Your doctor may recommend certain tests like a CT scan to rule out more serious causes.

Sinus Conditions

Your sinuses are empty spaces, or cavities, that interconnect to form a system beneath your forehead, eyes, cheeks, and nose. If you have allergies, a cold, the flu, or a sinus infection, your sinuses may become inflamed and produce excess mucus.

This excess mucus can cause head pressure, as well as nasal discharge, a cough, and sometimes even a sore throat. It can also cause sinus headaches to occur.

Ear Problems

If you have an ear infection or a large amount of ear wax that leads to blockage, you can experience pressure in the head in addition to ear pain. This generally causes dull, constant pain, mainly in your temples and ears, but sometimes in your jaw or sides of your head as well.

Other ear problems that could contribute to pressure in the head include labyrinthitis or a ruptured eardrum.


A concussion is a head injury due to sudden impact. The impact shakes, bounces, or twists your brain inside your skull, and this movement affects your brain activity and damages brain cells.

Fortunately, most concussions are mild to moderate as opposed to severe in intensity. However, even a mild concussion can produce sensations of pressure in the head, nausea, and dizziness. If you suspect a concussion, consult your healthcare provider. They may refer you to a neurologist for further evaluation.

Medical Conditions

Medical conditions such as dehydration, fatigue, muscle strain, or high blood pressure can all cause pressure in the head. Additionally, tooth infections or even meningitis can cause you to feel pressure in your head.

Many medical conditions might give you this uncomfortable sensation in your head, ranging in severity from mild and self-manageable to serious and requiring immediate medical attention.

Hormonal changes, such as menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, can also cause pressure in the head, especially with strong hormone fluctuations.

Mental Health Struggles

Mental health struggles such as anxiety and depression can lead you to experience pain or pressure in your head, especially in the form of headaches. You might also even feel dizzy.

If you struggle with your mental health and experience pressure in the head as a side effect, Nue Life wants to help you take back your life and manage your symptoms. Nue Life offers holistic therapy for mental health struggles, including health coaching and integration, in addition to evidence-based ketamine therapy.

How Can You Relieve Pressure in the Head?

There are many options for what to do when it comes to relieving pressure in your head, including cold compresses, avoiding physical pressures, turning off the lights, drinking water, and reducing stress. Let’s take a look at each of these strategies below.

Warm or Cool Compress

Placing a warm or cool compress on your forehead can help relieve pressure sensations. The compress temperature depends on what type of pain you experience as well as the cause of the head pressure.

If you think you might be experiencing pressure in the head due to sinus issues, for example, then a warm compress will help to open up your sinuses and relieve the pressure. If you have a headache, sometimes a cool compress can feel better than a warm one to help relieve the discomfort.

Try OTC Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter pain relief medications may help ease the symptoms of minor headaches or head pressure caused by tension, hormonal changes, or stress. However, follow the instructions on the medication packaging to avoid overuse of these pain relievers — which can lead to rebound headaches.

Turn off the Lights

Light can often be jarring to your brain, and if your mind is fatigued or overwhelmed, turning off the lights can help to put your mind at ease. If you are already in a dim setting, try to close your eyes and give yourself a mental break.

If the pressure is due to a sinus infection, sometimes it can help to rest in an upright position to encourage mucus drainage.

Drink Some Water

Dehydration can often lead to pain or pressure sensations in the head, especially dizziness, tingling, or headaches. If you have pressure in the head, try drinking a glass of water to rehydrate.

The best way to stay hydrated throughout the day is to intake small sips of water every 10 to 15 minutes so that your body has time to absorb the water. If you just chug a liter of water all at once, your body will have no time to absorb the liquid before you get rid of it as urine.

Reduce Stress

Stress puts a lot of strain on your mind, so implementing techniques to reduce stress can help to relieve pressure in the head. There are many stress relief techniques, including mindfulness meditation to focus on the present, deep breathing, guided imagery, and stretching or yoga practices.

In addition, try simply doing something you enjoy. Take a break, and connect to what you love in order to give your mind a break and stimulate happy feelings to calm you down. You might also try some physical activity — exercise helps release endorphins that can promote a positive and calm mood.

At-Home Ketamine Therapy

If you struggle with mental health and think that this might be causing pressure in the head, at-home ketamine therapy is another manageable option to help you address your discomfort. Especially when it comes to depression, ketamine is a very effective treatment with very minimal side effects.

Nue Life works to provide our patients with oral ketamine treatment that can be taken right at home with virtual supervision. We want to ensure you have meaningful takeaways from your experiences, and we want to help you in the establishment of positive new neural pathways.

This way, you can have your ketamine experience in a comfortable and familiar environment so that you can have the best experience possible. Many depression patients feel relief from their symptoms within 24 hours of their first ketamine treatment, and our Nue Care aftercare program serves to help patients continue their journey toward healing after treatment.

The Bottom Line

Pressure in the head can feel like tightness, weight, compaction, pressing, throbbing, achiness, or soreness in your head. Sometimes pressure may feel localized to a certain area, but other times can present as a throbbing throughout your head, behind your eyes, or even in your neck area.

Headaches, sinus conditions, ear problems, concussions, medical conditions, and struggles with mental health can all be causes of pressure in the head. In general, pressure in the head is easy to address at home through methods such as compress applications, bright light and loud noise avoidance, hydration, and stress reduction.

At-home ketamine therapy may also help relieve pressure in your head, especially if you think the pressure might be related to mental health struggles that include anxiety, depression, PTSD, or more.

Luckily, if you experience pressure in the head, you can most likely treat your uncomfortable sensations at home. However, if the pressure or pain becomes too intense to manage on your own, or if your symptoms persist or worsen even with attempted treatment, you should seek help from a healthcare professional to address the situation.

Treatment at Nue Life

Nue Life believes in holistic treatment, which means that what happens before and after your ketamine experience is equally as important as the experience itself. We want to ensure you have meaningful takeaways from your experiences and help you establish positive new neural pathways.

That’s why we provide one-on-one health coaching and integration group sessions with each of our programs. We’re here to help map out the mind and body connections in your brain and help you discover the insights that lead to true healing.


Tension type headache Chowdhury D |  Ann Indian Acad Neurol

Headache Pain: When to Worry, What to Do | Harvard Health Publishing

Comorbidity of Depressive and Anxiety Disorders in Chronic Daily Headache and Its Subtypes – Juang – 2000 | Headache Journal

Concussion Signs and Symptoms | HEADS UP | CDC Injury Center

Allergy Headaches | Causes, Symptoms & Treatment | ACAAI Public Website

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