An increased feeling of pressure in your head can be referred to as increased intracranial pressure (ICP). This is a condition that causes a buildup of pressure between your brain and skull. This pressure in your head may lead to conditions like brain and spinal cord injury. As the pressure in your head increases, you may also get headaches. Managing this condition requires quick medical attention.
What causes pressure in your head?
There are a few possible reasons why you may be experiencing a buildup of pressure in your brain. Some of them include:
A headache occurs when your blood vessels, nerves, or muscles that surround the brain get affected. You might get a headache due to swelling, tightening, or any condition that causes increased pressure to the nerves, muscles, or blood vessels in the head. Most headaches commonly affect people of all ages.
The most common type of headache is a tension headache. Tension headaches may cause pain and pressure in the neck and head. They mostly occur due to anxiety or stress that may cause tightening of head and neck muscles. Other causes of tension headaches are inadequate sleep, overworking, jaw clenching, and missed meals.
Common over-the-counter medications available to treat headaches include ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen. You may also consider non-medicinal interventions like lifestyle modifications: activities like massages, yoga, and stretching are effective ways of reducing stress.
Most cases of headaches are not serious and may go away if you rest or take a nap. Try taking a nap in a cool, dark, and, quiet place. Consider taking some over-the-counter pain medications if the headache persists.
When to see a doctor. A headache may turn into something serious if not managed well. Consider calling your doctor if you get:
How to diagnose intracranial pressure
Your doctor might take a detailed medical history and do a physical examination. They may also take some tests, including:
- CT scan. The scan takes detailed head and brain x-ray photos.
- Lumbar puncture. The test is also called a spinal tap and is used to measure cerebrospinal fluid pressure.
- Nervous system examination. As the name suggests, it is used to check mental status, balance, and senses.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Magnetic resonance imaging uses a magnet to look for issues in the brain tissue better than CT scan and x-ray.
Tips to treat head-pressure pain in your head
There are a few things your doctor can do to reduce intracranial pressure. Some of them include:
- Medication for swelling
- Draining blood from the brain
- Craniotomy (removal of part of your skull to ease pressure or swelling)
- Draining excess cerebrospinal fluid
Complications of intracranial pressure
Intracranial pressure might lead to serious complications like:
How to prevent head-pressure pain
Prevention of intracranial pressure mainly involves trying to lower the risk of getting a condition that might cause head pressure and pain. Conditions like stroke, head injury, and high blood pressure might be prevented by doing regular physical exercise, eating a well-balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.
The Johns Hopkins University: "Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP) Headache."
The Nemours Foundation: "Headaches."
University of Rochester: "Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP)."
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REFERENCE: CDC. High Blood Pressure. Updated: Nov 13, 2017.
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