Headache behind Eyes and Forehead

A woman who suffers from migraine that's one of the reasons for the pain behind the eye


Headaches are very common and a lot of people simply treat them at home by taking over the counter medication, resting, drinking lots of water, or just by simply waiting for a headache to go away. There are various types of headaches. One should know the kind of a headache he or she is experiencing to be able to get proper treatment. Headaches are so common that most people tend to self-diagnose and self-treat without even understanding what type of a headache they are experiencing and what might be the underlying cause for these headaches.

Headaches can be distinguished based on the associated symptoms experienced with a headache. There are several types of a headache that can cause a headache behind the eyes and forehead. These are:

A sinus Headache

Sinus headaches are due to sinus infection or sinusitis. When an individual has a sinus infection, the sinuses are inflamed causing mucus to flow and clog the sinuses. This clog in the sinuses creates pressure and pain that is felt above the nose and between the eyes.

Sinus headaches are usually caused by allergies, viral infection, and bacterial infection.

The symptoms of a sinus headache include pressure and pain around the sinus area which includes the forehead, the cheekbones, and the area above the nose and between the eyes. The pain can also be felt behind the eyes. A headache or pain felt tends to get worse when moving especially when lying down or when bending over. 90% of the time, people a mistaken migraine for a sinus headache. Sinus headaches are a rare occurrence. Aside for the symptoms mentioned earlier, sinus headaches can be diagnosed when a headache occurs with other symptoms such as a stuffy or a runny nose, a greenish or yellowish nasal discharge, sore throat, cough, fever, fatigue, and swelling in the face.

With sinus headaches, it is important to treat both a headache and the underlying cause of a headache. Doctors recommend treating both at the same time. Sinus headaches can be treated by the following:

  • Over-the-counter medications for pain such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or acetaminophen (should be taken with advice from the doctor)
  • Nasal steroid spray to reduce, swelling, and congestion and to prevent future regrowth in the nasal polyps
  • Decongestants to help open the clogged sinus cavities
  • Antihistamines if the sinus infection is caused by allergies
  • Antibiotics to treat the underlying cause of a sinus headache
  • Nasal saline spray to break the dried mucus to relieve congestion and retain moisture

A tension Headache

A tension headache is another type of a headache that can cause aching behind the eyes, neck,  and forehead. A tension headache is a common form of a headache. It can result in mild to moderate, or sometimes intense pain in the head, behind the eyes, and in the neck. It feels like there is a tight band wrapped around the forehead. Tension headaches can either be chronic or episodic.

Tension headaches are usually due to muscle contractions in the neck and head regions. There are a number of factors that can cause these contractions such as certain food, stressors, and activities. Some individuals get tension headaches after having a really long drive or after laying eyes at a computer for extended periods. Cold temperatures can also trigger tension headaches. Other triggers include eye strain, alcohol, dry eyes, smoking, cold, flu, fatigue, sinus infection, poor posture, caffeine, and emotional stress.

The symptoms of a tension headache include pressure around the forehead, a dull, non-throbbing pain in the head, and tenderness around the scalp and forehead. The pain is frequently mild to moderate but can sometimes be intense. To differentiate a migraine from a tension headache, migraine has additional symptoms like vomiting and nausea.

Tension headaches can be treated by the following:

  • Over the counter medication such as acetaminophen, aspirin, indomethacin, ketorolac, opiates, and naproxen sodium to manage pain (should be taken with advice from the doctor)
  • Muscle relaxant to help stop muscle contractions
  • Anti-depressant to stabilize the serotonin levels of the brain and help one cope with stress
  • Biofeedback to help manage stress and pain
  • Acupuncture to reduce tension and stress

Cluster Headache

Cluster headaches are severe, one-sided headaches that are much rare than tension headaches and may also cause pain behind the eyes and forehead. The pain caused by cluster headaches feels like a piercing or burning sensation and is typically felt behind just one eye.

There is no known cause for a cluster headache but it usually involves a nerve causing an intense pain around one eye. The pain can be more severe than a migraine.

Symptoms of a cluster headache may include a reddened eye, excess tearing, and swelling of just one eye. The cluster headaches are usually one-sided. Other symptoms include a stuffy nose and a droopy eyelid. It can also cause you to sweat a lot or be bothered by light.

Cluster headaches cannot simply be treated with self-medication and home remedies. It is important to consult with a doctor when you have cluster headaches. Treatments for this condition include:

  • Prescription medications such as verapamil, prednisone, lithium, ergotamine, and Divalproex to lessen the severity of the attacks and to shorten the length of a headache
  • Triptans which is usually used for a migraine (should be taken with advice from the doctor)
  • Breathing oxygen through a face mask
  • Shot of sumatriptan