Through the centuries, many celebrated poets, writers and balladeers have, in various artistic ways, paid tribute to what lies behind one’s eyes. Behind those eyes, they say, lie one’s soul, one’s story, or one’s dreams.
It all sounds lofty and romantic, but to those who may be suffering from migraines or tension headaches, the story is quite simple: what lies behind those eyes is excruciating headache pain.
What’s the story with headache pain behind those eyes?
What causes headache pain behind the eyes? If we are to get technical, that pain behind your eyes falls simply under headache. This is because a headache is defined as pain felt in any region in the head. This area can range from the temples, to the forehead, to the nape or even behind the eyes.
Several types of headaches can cause pain behind the eyes. Here are some of them:
Types of headaches that cause pain behind the eyes
Tension headaches are the most common types when it comes to headaches. They are found to be more common in women, though anyone is susceptible to this kind of headache. Tension headaches can occur up to twice per month and are often considered to be episodic, meaning they happen in stages or episodes.
When you are experiencing tension headaches, you may feel pressure or a tightening feeling around the forehead. Pain in the eyes may follow. Symptoms associated with tension headaches include scalp tenderness, neck and forehead pain and dull head pain.
Just as its name suggests, cluster headaches are a series of three or four short headaches. Although they only last between 15 minutes to one hour, they can be painful headaches nonetheless. Cluster headaches are considered to be rarer than tension headaches. The painful sensation here is usually located behind just one eye. Other symptoms of cluster headaches include swollen, red eyes and excessive tearing.
If you are part of the unfortunate 12 percent in the world that suffer from migraines, there’s a chance you could be feeling that painful sensation or headache behind the eyes. Lasting up to 72 hours, a migraine is considered a periodic headache that can produce severe pain often on one side of the head and, at times, behind the eye.
Other known symptoms of migraine include vomiting, nausea, impaired vision and sensitivity to light, smells and sounds.
Sinusitis occurs when there is an infection in the sinuses, and inflammation or congestion of tissues that line up the sinuses occur. As a response to the congestion and inflammation, this can cause a pain similar to headache. The congestion is normally accompanied by pressure that is felt across the forehead, upper cheeks, and behind the eye. Other symptoms of sinusitis include fatigue, feeling pain that worsens when you lie down, upper teeth pain and stuffy nose.
Sometimes, that headache pain behind your eyes is caused by working the eyes too much. Doing things such as staring at a screen, be it a monitor or a smartphone, for a long period of time or extended road driving can induce pain behind the eyes.
Other eyestrain symptoms can include watery eyes, blurred vision, itching and burning eyes and sore shoulders or back.
Although eyestrain isn’t really serious or life-threatening, they usually go away when you give your eyes proper rest.
How do I treat that headache behind my eyes?
There are plenty of common over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin and Advil (ibuprofen) that can treat headaches. However, one must be aware of rebound headaches that occur when your body becomes accustomed to medication, and the headaches return once more when the medicine wears off.
This is why many migraine sufferers turn to natural, drug-free ways to manage migraine pain.
One such method or home remedy that is quite popular is the use of temperature therapy, or ice packs.
How can ice help relieve headache pain behind the eyes?
For tension headaches and sinusitis, heat therapy is recommended. This is because heat increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients around the muscles, which helps heal damaged or inflamed tissue. Heat also stimulates the skin’s sensory receptors that will decrease the transmission of pain signals to the brain. All this can partially relieve the discomfort and pain.
For tension headaches, applying a heating pad or warm gel pack to your head for 5-10 minutes is known to help. This can be done several times in a day. Taking a hot bath or shower can also help as it will relax tense muscles.
For sinusitis, a warm compress is advised. Heat therapy is an excellent way to effectively relieve sinus pressure and pain quickly. Applying a hot compress over the nose and forehead relieves sinus pressure and nasal congestion, which will also soothe sinus headache.
Cold temperatures help reduce pain by constricting blood vessels and help reduce the neurotransmission of pain to the brain. When you apply cold compress, instead of reading it as pain, it registers as a cold sensation.
Following the 2013 study that found neck pain to be a symptom of migraines, it has also been believed that applying a frozen neck wrap at the onset of migraine significantly reduces migraine pain.
Headaches behind the eyes can also be relieved when one goes to a cool, darkened room to rest their eyes. Placing an ice pack over your eyes will also help significantly.
For both warm and cool therapy, some people use a damp cold or warm towel. However, for best results, it’s recommended that you get head and eye ice packs specifically made for migraines and headaches. Most of them can be used as both warm and cold compresses, and all of them are flexible even when cold so they can fit comfortably around the eyes and forehead.
Are you experiencing headache pain behind the eyes? Have you tried temperature therapy yet? Get in touch and tell us about your migraine or headache experience.