Numbness or tingling in the head, known as head paresthesia, may refer to the feeling of pins and needles in the head and could be accompanied by a burning sensation and partial numbness. This tingling may also spread down to the face, ears, mouth, tongue, and neck, and it can be quite unsettling.
To learn what causes head paresthesia, how it’s diagnosed and treated, and when you should see your doctor, continue reading.
Numbness and tingling in the head may be caused by underlying health issues, injuries, common colds, and even anxiety. The most common causes have been listed below:
Cold and sinus issues: A head cold or severe sinus infection can compress the nerves in your upper face due to inflammation and cause tingling.
Diabetes: Patients who have had a poorly controlled blood sugar over an extended period of time can cause damage to the nerves that results in persistent tingling in the face and head.
Migraines: A change in blood flow during a migraine or pressure imbalance within the brain can cause numbness and tingling in the head.
Injury: A neck injury like whiplash or severe concussion can cause head numbness and tingling.
Medications: Certain prescription medications may come with the side effect of tingling or numbness of the head. If you experience this sensation shortly after starting a new medication or changing a dose, contact your doctor.
Posture: Staying in one position for an extended period of time can limit blood flow—for example, keeping your head tilted for a long time may result in numbness and tingling.
Anxiety: It can activate a stress response that triggers different issues, including tingling in the head. Fortunately, this is not permanent and better management of your symptoms can prevent this.
Multiple sclerosis: One symptom of MS is numbness and tingling throughout the body, which may occur in the face, neck, and head.
Tumors: A brain tumor may cause numbness and tingling in the head, depending on its size and location within the brain.
Head paresthesia is usually diagnosed using a combination of one or more methods including a review of your medical and symptom history, a neurological exam, blood tests, nerve condition studies, an electromyography, and in rare cases, a nerve biopsy.
If you have never experienced numbness or tingling in the head before, it is important to seek the advice of your healthcare provider as it may be a symptom of a more serious underlying issue. Depending on what is causing the tingling, treatment can vary. Doctors may suggest topical ointments, medications, diet and lifestyle changes, as well as physical and psychological therapy to help relieve your symptoms.
If the tingling is something you have not experienced before and is persistent, it is important to see your doctor so they can test you for underlying issues that might be serious. Even if you have a head cold, it is always best to err on the side of caution and get it checked out as soon as you can to prevent any potential conditions from worsening.
Tingling and numbness in the head is a strange sensation that may be explained by something as simple as a head cold or sinus infection, or something more severe like a brain tumor or diabetes. If you experience this discomfort and are not sure of its cause, consult with your doctor right away to prevent any potential complications. Once diagnosed, your doctor will be able to prescribe the best treatment for whichever issue is causing the tingling.