Health Conditions A-Z Neurological Disorders Headache Why You May Have a Headache on Top of Your Head By Katie Murphy, RN MSN PHN Katie Murphy, RN MSN PHN Katie received her bachelor's degree in registered nursing from Western Governors University. She then also received her master's degree in nursing education from Western Governors University. health's editorial guidelines Published on March 22, 2023 Medically reviewed by Smita Patel, DO Medically reviewed by Smita Patel, DO Smita Patel, DO, is an integrative neurologist and sleep medicine physician. learn more Share this page on Facebook Share this page on Twitter Share this page on Pinterest Email this page In This Article View All In This Article Dehydration Sleep Deprivation Side Effects of Medication Sinus Infections Or Allergies Rare Causes How To Treat It When To See a Healthcare Provider dragana991 / Getty Images Headaches on the top of your head may have many different causes ranging from tension, migraine, or occipital neuralgia (a neurological condition in which the nerves that run through the scalp are injured or inflamed). Other reasons like stress and poor posture can also cause these types of headaches since the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and scalp can tense up when you feel stressed or anxious. A headache on the top of your head may feel different for different people, but these are the most common symptoms: Pressure on the top of your head A dull ache Neck and shoulder tightness Nausea In most cases, a headache in the top part of your head isn’t a cause for concern, but if the headache is severe, persists, or it occurs with other symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider. Here are some of the most common causes of a headache on the top of your head. Dehydration When your body’s fluids are low, your brain and other tissues in your body shrink (contract). As your brain shrinks, it pulls away from the skull, puts pressure on nerves, and causes pain. Replenishing with fluids can help the protective cushion surrounding your brain to expand and may help relieve your headache. This is why it is important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout the day. 13 Dehydration Symptoms Everyone Should Know Sleep Deprivation When you don't get enough sleep, your body has to work extra hard to stay alert and focused. When this happens, your body has problems controlling the release of hormones that impact sleep. This imbalance can add to or cause headaches. You may also feel irritable or moody when tired, which can lead to tension headaches. Tension headaches occur when muscles in the head and neck become tense from stress or lack of sleep. Aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep at night and avoid caffeine late in the day. 12 Signs of Sleep Deprivation You Need to Know Side Effects of Medication Some drugs are too strong, or your body may be sensitive to them, causing a headache on top of your head. Taking too much of a drug can also have this effect. Some drugs dilate the blood vessels in the head, which can cause a rush of blood to the head, which can lead to a headache as well. Headaches can sometimes be caused by taking more than one medication at the same time. If you think that your medication might be the cause of your headaches, speak to your doctor about other possible options or changes. Sinus Infections Or Allergies The sinuses are air-filled cavities in the skull. Inflammation or congestion from an infection or allergies can lead to headaches. Your sinuses can get inflamed and blocked with mucus, causing pressure in the head that can trigger a headache. Most of the time, these headaches are usually around or behind your eye, or you might have pain in your face overall. Allergies That Might Seem Surprising Rare Causes of a Headache On Top of Your Head Headaches on top of your head may also be caused by rare conditions such as: Brain tumors: Tumors are swelling caused by an abnormal growth of tissue, whether benign or malignant. Malignant tumors grow and spread quickly, while benign ones grow more slowly and do not spread. Aneurysms: These are bulges or balloon-like weak spots in the wall of an artery in the brain. Aneurysms can form when there's a flaw in the artery wall, which may cause it to stretch and bulge. If a brain aneurysm bursts, it can cause bleeding in the brain (known as a hemorrhagic stroke). This may cause difficulty speaking, vision changes, loss of consciousness, and even death. Bleeding in the brain: This may happen when blood escapes from an artery or vein and enters the brain tissue. This can happen due to a head injury, aneurysm, stroke, tumor, or some other disease. While these are not common causes of headaches on top of your head, it’s important to be aware of them. These can be life-threatening and require emergency medical attention. How To Treat a Headache on Top of Your Head There are a few things you can do at home or outside the doctor’s office to relieve a headache on top of your head: Take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin (ibuprofen). Take a look at your posture. Relaxing your body, especially the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and scalp, can help relieve tension headaches. Use proper posture when sitting and standing. Avoid slouching. Try breathing exercises and relaxation techniques to help reduce stress. Consider complementary therapies such as massage, yoga, or acupuncture. Apply a cold pack or warm compress to the affected area. This can help reduce inflammation and pressure. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. The 8 Best Posture Correctors When To See a Healthcare Provider If your headaches are frequent and don’t respond to home remedies, seek medical attention. Your healthcare provider may recommend drugs such as anti-inflammatories or preventive treatments. They can also help determine if there is an underlying condition causing your headaches. Seek medical attention if you have any of the following symptoms: Severe, sudden headacheA headache that feels worse when you bend over or change positionsHeadache accompanied by vision changes, confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, weakness on one side of the body, or numbness. A Quick Review Headaches on top of your head are usually caused by stress and poor posture, but can also be related to dehydration, sleep deprivation, sinus infections or allergies, and certain medications. You can treat a headache on top of your head with OTC pain relievers, relaxation techniques, and cold or warm compresses. If your headache is frequent and does not respond to home remedies, seek advice from a healthcare provider. They can help diagnose the underlying cause of your pain and develop the best treatment plan for you. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit 14 Sources Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Baraness L, Baker AM. Acute headache. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. MedlinePlus. Tension headache. Arca KN, Halker Singh RB. Dehydration and headache. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2021;25(8):56. doi:10.1007/s11916-021-00966-z Korabelnikova EA, Danilov AB, Danilov AB, Vorobyeva YD, Latysheva NV, Artemenko AR. Sleep disorders and headache: A review of correlation and mutual influence. 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