Headache Behind or Above the Right Eye: Causes and Treatments

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Headache Behind or Above Right Eye: Causes and Treatments
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Headaches are a source of pain and misery and having a headache behind or above your right eye can be especially distressing. Experiencing pain on the right side of your forehead can feel like extreme pressure that creates a dull ache behind your eye. Sometimes the headache above your right eye can become more intense and feel like stabbing or shooting pains that radiate from the right side of your forehead and cause pain at the back of your head.

Depending on the cause of your headache above or behind your eye, you may experience other temporary symptoms. For example, migraines typically affect just one side of your head and can cause flashing lights, nausea, and throbbing pain. If nerves on one side of your head are affected, then you could experience extreme headaches on the affected side. Or, if your headache behind one or both eyes is caused by blocked sinuses, you will also have a stuffy nose and other symptoms of a respiratory infection.

For most people, headaches above the right eye are a temporary condition that can be relieved with some home remedies. In the majority of cases, a cold pack placed on your right temple will ease a throbbing headache. Also, getting more sleep, dealing with stress better, and massaging soothing essential oils to your forehead can help make a headache go away faster. In rare occasions, a constant chronic headache that is accompanied by other serious symptoms could be a sign of a more serious condition.

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In this article, you will find out what can cause headaches behind or above the right eye. You will also learn how to treat these kinds of headaches that only affect the right side of your head. If you are concerned about the intensity or severity of headaches behind your eyes, the article also discusses when you should see a doctor.

Headaches Behind or Above the Right Eye – What Are They?

Doctors use the term headaches to describe any kind of pain in your head. Headaches can be caused by a number of neurological, muscular, or physical conditions. Depending on the cause of the pain, you can have dull to severe aches that affect just one side of your head or your whole head.

According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, headaches that occur on the right side of your head or left side are caused by a combination of various factors. For example, inflammation of the tissues surrounding your skull, chemical activity in the brain, or muscles in your neck or head can all cause headaches affecting just one part of your head or your whole head.1

Dr. Benjamin Wedro on MedicineNet says that, in general, headaches can be divided into 3 different groups.2 These are:

  • Primary headaches. Pain that originates in your head where the headache itself is the main medical problem. Some of these are migraines, cluster headaches, or tension headaches.
  • Secondary headaches. Headaches behind the right eye or left eye that are caused by an underlying cause, such as trauma or infection.
  • Cranial neuralgia headaches. These are headaches caused by nerve pain like trigeminal neuralgia and often cause sharp pain on just one side of your head.

Symptoms of Headaches Behind Right Eye or Above Right Eye

A headache that just affects the right side of your face behind or around the eye can cause varying degrees of pain and other symptoms.

According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, the head pain can affect just one side of the head (left or right) and feel like a squeezing ache; or the pain may radiate across the head. Depending on the reason for the headache, the pain can feel like anything from a dull ache that intensifies and lasts many days or the pain can come on suddenly and feel like stabbing throbs.3

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Dr. Wedro on MedicineNet says that apart from causing pain on the right hand side of your head or the left hand side, you can have other symptoms. For example, severe head pains can also cause nausea and vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, tenderness of the scalp, and even temporary blindness. Serious conditions that cause headaches can also bring on seizures, cause a stiff neck, confusion, and dizziness.2

Headache Above or Behind the Right Eye – Main Causes

Most of us will experience a headache behind the right eye or left eye at some point in our lives. In fact, according to some reports, headaches of any kind are the most common types of pain that people suffer from.

Let’s look at some of the most common reasons for headaches that cause throbbing pains that feel like it is behind or above your right eye.

Migraine

A common reason for having an intense pain behind your right eye is a migraine. According to information published by the World Health Organization, around 30% of people suffer from migraines.4

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that a migraine attack usually causes pain on one or both sides of your head. This causes a severe throbbing pain that can last from 4 hours to 3 days. Along with the pain behind one or both eyes, migraines can cause nausea and vomiting and make you very sensitive to light or sound.5

Migraine attacks can be triggered by hormonal changes, certain foods or smells, stress, or changes in sleep patterns. Sometimes, age and family history can make you more prone to migraines, and women are 3 times more likely to have migraine attacks.

Some people also suffer from ocular migraines which, according to Dr. Brian Wachler on WebMD, can cause temporary blindness in the right eye or left eye.6

Tension headache

Tension headaches can affect anyone and cause dull to severe aching behind your right eye. According to some reports, tension headaches are the most common type of headache that people experience.

According to Dr. Danette Taylor on MedinceNet, tension headaches usually start on your forehead above your right eye or left eye. As the headache progresses, the pain may feel like a tight band around your head and spreads to your shoulders. Although the pain causes a pressure-like throb, it doesn’t usually affect your daily activities.7

There are many causes of tension headaches, but stress, lack of sleep, or being hungry are among the most common reasons.

Cluster headache

A type of primary headache that can cause sharp, piercing pain behind your right eye is a cluster headache. Of course, cluster headaches can also cause a headache behind or above your left eye, but they usually only affect one side of the head at a time.

Doctors from the National Health Service say that cluster headaches tend to just affect one side of the head. The pain can come on quickly and feel like a stabbing pain behind the eye. Cluster headaches usually occur daily and can last for between 4 to 12 weeks before going into remission for a time. Cluster headaches are one reason why you can wake up with a splitting headache.8

Along with the sharp stabbing pains behind either of your eyes, cluster headaches may make one eyelid droop, give you a runny or blocked nose, and make the affected eye water.

Exertion headaches

A bout of strenuous physical exercise can leave you with a headache behind your right eye. It is thought that physical activity and exercising can cause blood vessels in the skull to dilate and cause headache pain.

According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, throbbing pain in the head after exercising is usually felt on both sides of the head.9 However, it’s not uncommon for exercise or exertional headaches to just affect one side of your head. If you are prone to suffering from migraines, then exercising could also cause a migraine.

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Sinus infection

Very often sinus infections cause a headache under the eye of the side of the blocked sinus. A clogged sinus will also cause you to have all the typical cold-like symptoms like a runny nose, cough, and sore throat.

Depending on how much your sinuses are blocked, the pain around your eye can feel like something is constantly pressing on it. Dr. Carol DerSarkissian says that blocked sinuses will cause pain around the forehead and behind the eyes. Because of the buildup of pressure, bending over, sneezing or coughing can exacerbate the pain.10

There are many great natural remedies that can help to unclog sinuses and relieve pressure from under your eyes. For example, some essential oils help to get rid of sinus infections quickly and you can also use some essential oils to alleviate allergy symptoms that can also block up sinuses.

Eye strain

Recurring headaches that affect the area around one or both eyes can be caused by eye strain. Straining eyes can cause nerves and muscles in your head to tense up and bring on a headache or pain in the affected eye.

Dr. Andrew Dahl on MedicineNet says that a mild headache is the most common symptom of eye strain. However, you may also find it difficult to focus and have a tight feeling on your temples. According to Dr. Dahl, eyestrain is common among people who spend a long time concentrating in front of a computer screen or drive for long distances.11

Usually, all that is needed to get rid of a headache above your eye caused by eye strain is to rest your eyes. So, it’s important to take short breaks and allow your eyes to focus on an object in the distance.

Trigeminal neuralgia

You may suffer from chronic headaches behind your right eye because of trapped or damaged nerves in your head. Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition that affects the cranial nerves in your face and can cause sharp stabbing pain around the right or left eye.

According to Dr. Mary Lowth on Patient.info, trigeminal neuralgia causes a type of pain that feels like electric shocks. These shooting pains commonly affect just one side of your head and affect the area around the eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp.12

Dr. David Kiefer on WebMD says that something as simple as touching your face or brushing your teeth can be enough to cause the pain on the affected side of your face.13

Giant cell arteritis

Sudden aching pains on the right side of your forehead or left-hand side could be caused by giant cell arteritis. This condition is caused by inflammation in the arteries in your neck and head and can result in persistent severe pain.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that the aches giant cell arteritis causes can cause excruciating pain in your right temple or left temple. You may also develop flu-like symptoms, feel extremely tired, and have some kind of vision impairment. If you suffer from giant cell arteritis, it’s important to stick to a healthy diet and get regular exercise.14

Trauma

Trauma to your right eye can be an obvious cause of pain and headaches behind or above your right eye. However, depending on where the trauma happened and the severity of the injury, trauma to the head can cause recurring headaches behind or above your right eye after it has healed.

According to a study published in the journal Current Pain and Headache Reports, post-traumatic headaches can cause cluster headaches and manifest themselves weeks after the initial injury.15

Serious Causes of Headaches Behind the Right Eye

There are other serious medical conditions that can cause constant, severe headaches behind the right eye. It is important to remember, though, that recurring headaches, even if they are severe, aren’t usually a cause for concern. Headaches that are caused by serious medical conditions are accompanied by other, more serious symptoms.

Glaucoma

Pressure in one or both eyes can damage your eye’s nerve and lead to glaucoma. Over time, glaucoma can cause gradual vision loss and lead to blindness if it is not treated in time.

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According to Dr. William Shiel on MedicineNet, acute angle-closure glaucoma can cause a headache behind the affected eye, eye pain, halos around lights, and cause inflammation in the eye. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should call your doctor immediately.16

Tumors

Chronic headaches are rarely associated with brain tumors. However, Dr. Charles Davis on MedicineNet says that severe headaches that are usually worse in the morning and have other symptoms can be a cause for concern. Therefore, if you also have symptoms like seizures, problems keeping balance, slurring while speaking, mood changes, or any changes in vision, you should speak to your doctor to rule out the possibility of an abnormal growth in your head.17

Brain infection

Swelling in the brain caused by a viral infection can cause severe pain behind your right eye or your left eye. Infections like meningitis or encephalitis can cause the tissue surrounding the brain to become inflamed and cause severe pain. However, having a stiff neck, vomiting, and confusion will usually accompany any kind of headache caused by a brain infection.

Aneurysm

If a blood vessel in your head breaks open or ruptures, you could have sudden, sharp pains in your head. According to Dr. Amit Shelat on MedlinePlus, aneurysms are very uncommon. However, if your severe headache causes eye pain, vision problems, a stiff neck, and muscle weakness, you should seek emergency medical help.

How to Naturally Relieve Headaches Behind or Above the Right Eye

Knowing how to get rid of one-sided headaches quickly can really help improve your quality of life. Suffering from headaches that are felt behind your right eye or on your forehead above your right eye can affect your daily activities.

Here are some simple methods you can use at home to treat most types of headaches.

Cold compress

A cold compress pressed on your right temple can help to relieve headaches above your right eye. Cold helps to numb irritated nerves and also reduce blood flow to the painful part of your head.

Studies have proved that a cold compress can be an effective and cheap way to get rid of a migraine. The journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine reported that placing a cold compress on the eyes or forehead helps to relieve pain caused by migraines and other headaches.20

How to use:

To help get rid of a headache behind or above your right eye using a cold compress, this is what you should do:

  1. Fill a sealable plastic bag with crushed ice and wrap in a thin towel.
  2. Apply the cold pack to your right eye or right side of your head and hold for 15 minutes to reduce the pain.
  3. Use the cold pack to treat tension headaches, migraines, cluster headaches, and headaches caused by eye strain.

Essential oils for headache relief

You can also use some essential oils for their pain-relieving effect to quickly get rid of a headache. Essential oils work to get rid of head pain in 2 ways. First, the aroma from essential oils helps to relieve stress and have a calming effect on the mind. Second, many essential oils have a cooling effect on the skin and have relieving pain properties.

One of the best essential oils for headache relief is lavender essential oil. The journal European Neurology published studies showing that lavender essential oil is an effective natural treatment for migraine pain.21 Other studies have confirmed the ability of peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil for headaches.22

How to use:

To create your own analgesic topical treatment for headaches using essential oils, this is what you should do:

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  1. Choose one of the above mentioned essential oils or use a combination and mix 10-12 drops of essential oil in 1 oz. of a carrier oil such as jojoba oil or olive oil.
  2. Place some oil on your fingertips and gently massage to your temples forehead.
  3. Repeat 2-3 times a day to help treat recurring headaches around your right eye such as tension headaches, migraines, and trigeminal neuralgia.

If you have a headache behind your right eye which is caused by blocked sinuses, then choose eucalyptus oil as it will help to unblock your sinuses. You can also experiment with other essential oils for getting rid of headaches.

Reduce stress to get rid of a headache from right eye

Because stress can cause tension headaches and trigger migraines, it’s important to reduce stress as much as you can. In our busy lives, it can be difficult to eliminate all stress but there are many natural remedies that can help relieve daily tension and get rid of headaches.

For some great tips to help get rid of daily stress, please read my article on the best remedies for stress.

Improve sleep habits

One of the best way to prevent migraines, tension headaches, and avoid nerve irritation in your head is to get enough sleep. Improving sleep habits is essential to keeping good health and to reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

There is also scientific evidence showing that sleep can help reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches. The journal Headaches reported that people who get enough sleep and improve their sleep patterns suffer less from migraines and headaches. Research has also shown that waking up with a migraine is often caused by poor sleep habits.23

To help prevent recurring migraines and many types of headaches behind the right eye, you should try and get better sleep. Many people have found that this natural substance can improve their sleep. Also this drink as well as these foods can help you get better sleep. You can also try this breathing exercise to get deep relaxation which will enable you to go to sleep fast.

Massage therapy to treat right-eye headaches

If tension causes your headaches or if you have throbbing pains behind or around your right eye because of a migraine, you should try some massage therapy. Sometimes, even just gently massaging your temples or the back of your neck is enough to relieve tension and help lift a headache.

The American Journal of Public Health reported that massage therapy can help to give relief from tension headaches and prevent them from recurring. The research found that massaging the right and left temples was an effective way to get rid of tension headaches quickly and prevent them from returning.24

How to Prevent Headache Behind or Above Right Eye

Of course, it is always better to prevent headaches that cause aches and pains behind your right or left eye. Here are some ways that may help you avoid suffering from headaches so often:

  • Because coffee can trigger migraines, try to reduce your daily caffeine intake
  • Get into good sleep patterns by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
  • Exercise regularly to keep yourself fit
  • If you work for long periods of time in front of a computer screen, take frequent breaks and try to release tension from your shoulders

When to See a Doctor

The most serious complication with most headaches is the severe pain that can affect one side of your head or both sides. Usually, home remedies are all you need to get rid of a headache or at least make the pain more bearable.

However, according to researchers from Harvard Medical School, some chronic headaches or sharp, intense headaches that come on suddenly along with other symptoms can be a cause for concern. You should see a doctor about headaches if you also have any of the following symptoms:25

  • The pattern of your headaches suddenly changes and become more frequent or intense.
  • The pain from a headache gradually gets worse or cause sharp shooting pains when you cough.
  • Along with the headaches, you notice changes in your speech or vision.
  • You have a stiff neck, slurred speech, general muscle weakness, or seizures.
  • The intense headache pain interferes with your daily activities.
  • Headaches continue after a trauma to the head.

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources

  1. MayoClinic. Headache.
  2. MedicineNet. Headache.
  3. MayoClinic. Headache. Definition.
  4. WHO. Headache disorders.
  5. MayoClinic. Migraine. Symptom and causes.
  6. WebMD. Ocular migraine.
  7. MedicineNet. Tension headache.
  8. NHS. Cluster headaches.
  9. MayoClinic. Exercise headaches.
  10. WebMD. How to treat sinus headaches.
  11. MedicineNet. Eye strain.
  12. PatientInfo. Headache.
  13. WebMD. Trigeminal neuralgia.
  14. MayoClinic. Giant cell arteritis.
  15. Curr Pain Headache Rep.2012 Apr;16(2):162-9.
  16. MedicineNet. Glaucoma.
  17. MedicineNet. Brain tumor.
  18. eMedicineHealth. Brain infection.
  19. MedlinePlus. Aneurysm in the brain.
  20. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2006 Dec; 3(4): 489–493.
  21. Eur Neurol.2012;67(5):288-91.
  22. Phytomedicine. 1995 Oct;2(2):93-102. doi
  23. WebMD. Do your sleep habits trigger migraines.
  24. Am J Public Health. 2002 October; 92(10): 1657–1661.
  25. HealthHarvard Headache: When to worry and what to do.
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One Response to Headache Behind or Above the Right Eye: Causes and Treatments

  1. pamela says:

    Thanks so much. I’d always hoped to find out about the headache I have been getting.

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