Headaches are a common occurrence. They may last for a few hours or several days – often causing throbbing pain in different locations of your head because of emotional, environmental, and medical factors. However, the exact cause of most headaches remains unknown.
By knowing the location of your headache, you can determine what type of headache you have and how serious it is. Based on the symptoms of your headache, you can perform appropriate pain management and decide when to see a doctor. But most headaches are usually not serious.
What causes right-sided head pain?
Contrary to popular belief, headaches do not originate from the brain but the tissues and structures surrounding the skull/brain – because your brain does not have nerve endings that cause the sensation of pain.
If you experience a headache on the right side of your head, it may be caused by:
- Lack of sleep
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Muscle strain in neck
- Head injuries
- Skipping meals
Other common causes of right-sided head pain include migraine and cluster headaches.
A migraine headache causes sharp, throbbing pain in one side of the head. It is a type of primary headache – a headache caused by dysfunction or overactivity of pain-sensitive structures in the head. Migraines are usually accompanied by nausea, blurred vision, sensitivity to bright lights, and vomiting. And they are more common in women than men.
Migraines usually come and go without any warning signs. However, most migraines are triggered by specific factors such as:
- Emotional stress or anxiety
- Strong smells
- Bright or flickering lights
- Alcohol, especially red wine
- Skipping meals
- Loud noises
- Hormonal changes in women
- Oversleeping or lack of sleep
- Weather changes
Treatments for migraines include prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers. By spotting the migraine early, you can control the migraine attacks with nonprescription medicines only. As for frequent migraine episodes, your doctor may prescribe medications and therapies. Nonetheless, you can prevent migraine episodes by avoiding the factors that trigger it.
Cluster headaches are uncommon but severe headaches in one side of the head. They usually come in clusters – one to eight headache attacks occur every day for about three months then disappear. Moreover, cluster headaches follow a cyclical pattern and are more common in men than women.
The exact cause of cluster headaches is yet to be known. However, alcohol consumption, smoking, and a family history of cluster headaches are common risk factors – they can increase the risk of developing cluster headaches.
Besides, cluster headaches may be accompanied by:
- Pale or flushed skin
- Runny or blocked nose
- Red or watery eyes
- Swelling around the affected eye
- Drooping eyelid on the affected area
Cluster headaches can also cause intense pain around one eye on one side of the head and mostly occur in the middle of the night. Fortunately, cluster headaches are a rare, non-threatening condition and can be reduced with appropriate treatment.
Tension headaches are the most common types of headaches, usually affecting both sides of the head. However, in some cases, tension headaches only affect one side of the head. They are mostly triggered by stress and last a few minutes or hours.
The symptoms of tension headaches can vary from mild to moderate. You may experience symptoms such as:
- An aching, dull head pain
- Scalp, neck, and shoulder muscle tenderness
- Tight or tender shoulder and neck muscles
- Pressure across forehead, sides, or back of the head
Most tension headaches can be treated with nonprescription pain relievers and home remedies. In addition, stress management is highly effective in reducing tension headaches. If you experience frequent tension headaches, you should use prescription medications, relaxation therapies, and avoid trigger factors. Making appropriate lifestyle changes can stop tension headaches from recurring.
When to worry?
Most headaches on one side of the head are non-serious. They usually resolve without any medications. However, if the symptoms are severe or chronic, you should seek immediate medical attention to avoid complications and detect the underlying cause, if any.
A headache can be a serious symptom of health conditions like stroke, encephalitis, or brain tumor. You should consult a doctor if you experience these symptoms in conjunction with severe head pain:
- Blurred or double vision
- Vision loss
- Slurred speech
- Sleep disturbances
- Neck stiffness
- Pain near temples
- Increased pain during movements
- Cognitive changes
- Head injury
However, most headaches are not a cause of worry. They usually resolve without the need for medical intervention.
Headache on the right side of your head is a common health condition– many people experience them on several occasions. In fact, most headaches on the right side of your head are treatable with prescription and over-the-counter medications. But you should see a doctor if your headache persists or becomes worse.