Almost every adult has experienced a headache at least once in their lifetime. Most headaches should not cause alarm, especially if they subside after a few hours. Before you start worrying about a serious condition that may cause a headache on the left side of the head, there are a few things you should know.
Common Headache Causes
A headache on the left side of your head is most often a primary headache, which means it is a response to your current situation or environment. Primary headaches are uncomfortable but are generally not a cause for concern. They include cluster headaches and migraines, which feel severe, but often do not have a life-threatening cause. Primary headaches have various causes.
- Exhaustion and Exertion – When you don’t get enough sleep, you may get a headache. This is especially true with individuals who have insomnia. Headaches may also occur when you participate in physically taxing activities.
- Low Blood Sugar – If you haven’t eaten recently, your blood sugar may decrease and result in a headache.
- Stress – When you are in emotional or physical distress, your brain releases chemicals for survival. Even if the threat is not severe, the headache that follows may be.
- Allergies – A stuffy nose changes the way you breathe and can cause pressure buildup in your head, which can cause headaches.
- Food Intolerance or Contaminants – Whether they realize it or not, many people have intolerances to foods like gluten, dairy, sugar, or certain additives and preservatives. Intolerance will not cause anaphylaxis, but it may cause symptoms of discomfort like muscle pain, mood swings, and headaches. Contaminants in some foods, such as ethanol in alcoholic beverages, cause headaches in many individuals.
These common headache triggers cause pain because they cause a change of blood flow to the brain. Other considerations include illnesses, like the flu or sinus infection, and the fit of any headwear and sunglasses.
When to See a Professional
Here are a few signs to look for when you’re trying to decide if you should see a professional.
- Your headaches change in frequency or severity, especially when treatments that typically work for you to lose effectiveness.
- You experience symptoms like fever, vision changes, or confusion with your headache.
- Your headaches started after an injury.
- Your headaches significantly interrupt daily life and function.
If any of these occur, you should consult a professional about your symptoms.