Tingling Sensation in the Head: What Is the Cause?

Young man suffering from headache, migraine or hangover at home

 

Most of us have experienced head tingling at one time or another; it’s usually a strange, but harmless experience. However, if you often have a tingling sensation in the head, you may want to investigate the cause.

Paresthesia, also known as persistent anesthesia, is the clinical term for head tingling and has myriad causes. While some are nothing to be concerned about, others are serious medical issues that should be addressed immediately.

 

Symptoms

What does paresthesia actually feel like? The sensations vary by patient, but most people experience one or more of the following:

  • Numbness
  • Pins-and-needles
  • Burning

 

Causes

Paresthesia is primarily caused by pressure on nerves. Often, simply relieving the pressure eliminates the symptoms: Moving a leg that’s “fallen asleep” is a good example.

However, chronic paresthesia may indicate nerve damage. Let’s take a look at the most common sources of this condition and their severity levels.

 

Head Injury

If you’ve experienced a head injury, there may be damage to the nerves that convey facial sensations. This is especially serious if your injury affected the base of your skull, as this can lead to brain nerve damage.

 

Diabetes

You’re probably aware that diabetes is a condition where the body doesn’t properly manage its blood sugar levels, but did you know it can cause nerve damage? Untreated diabetes can lead to numbness in limbs as well as the head.

 

Migraines

Although migraines are a type of headache, they’re often accompanied by diverse and debilitating symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Temporary loss of vision
  • Tingling is yet another sensation associated with migraines, usually occurring right before the “headache” hits.

 

Sinusitis and Colds

Two of the most common symptoms of sinusitis (sinus infections) and colds are congestion and sinus inflammation. Both of these can put pressure on the facial nerves, creating a tingling sensation.

 

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a chronic condition characterized by seizures. There are many different kinds of seizures, most of which are directly related to the nervous system. Simple partial seizures and other specific types may cause facial and head tingling.

 

Autoimmune Disorders

A more recently recognized cause of paresthesia is an autoimmune disorder. This is a condition where muscle and connective tissues, blood vessels and organs are attacked by the body’s immune system, leading to a long list of symptoms. Paresthesia is a common symptom among several autoimmune disorders:

  • Lupus
  • Sjögren syndrome
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

 

Infections

Some viral and bacterial infections can affect your nervous system. Many of these are dangerous or can lead to chronic conditions if not quickly treated. Numbness or tingling across the neck, face, and head may be a sign of the following:

  • Lyme disease
  • HIV
  • Shingles
  • Hepatitis C
  • Encephalitis

 

Neurodegenerative Conditions

As the name suggests, neurodegenerative conditions cause damage and eventual loss of neurons. Paresthesia is associated with the following conditions:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson’s

 

Medication Side Effects

Some medications may cause numbness or tingling as a side effect. Anticonvulsants and chemotherapy drugs are common examples.

 

Treatment

Before these symptoms can be treated, the underlying cause must be identified. It’s essential that you discuss your experience with a medical professional who can then rule out causes by running tests or recognizing additional symptoms.

Once you’ve determined the cause, your physician can create a personalized treatment plan.

 

Prevention

Your treatment plan may include preventative steps if possible. For example, if your paresthesia is a result of migraines or epilepsy, you can figure out triggers to avoid. In other cases, such as diabetes, properly managing your condition can prevent tingling and numbness altogether.

If you’re experiencing chronic paresthesia, it may be an indication of an issue that needs to be addressed. The professionals at the National Headache Institute is dedicated to helping patients with cutting-edge knowledge and equipment. Call us for more information at (713) 467-4082, or contact us online.

 

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Image Credit: Getty Images/ fizkes