When your head feels heavy, it can be hard to know what exactly is wrong. A heavy head feeling is a very common ailment, but it can also be caused by a variety of different factors, making it a particularly irritating condition to treat.
Often, doctors do not have an immediate answer for the feeling of a heavy head. There is no one disease or syndrome that causes this feeling—in fact, a lot of the time, these feelings are caused by simple health issues.
When your head feels heavy and tired, it can be a struggle to get through the day. Heavy head can be associated with dizziness, lightheadedness, brain fog, and numbness, as well as the feeling of tightness or pressure in your head.
Luckily, if your head feels heavy and dizzy, there are some steps you can take to start feeling better.
Why Your Head Feels Heavy
When your head feels heavy and tight, that’s a sign that there is a health problem causing the discomfort, and there are several that can cause the heavy head feeling, including hormonal disorders. However, it’s often not hormonal disorders that are to blame, as this uncomfortable feeling can also be caused by damage to your muscles or even to your brain.
For instance, a heavy head feeling can be caused by damage to the muscles in your neck. Research using MRIs has shown that the muscles in the neck can become damaged and will atrophy. Our neck muscles help support and stabilize our head. When they are damaged, they can struggle to support our head properly, which leads to a feeling of heaviness, as well as headaches.
While you may think that your neck muscles won’t get damaged, it’s actually fairly easy for this to occur. If you’ve been hit in the head or suffered from whiplash (which is when your head is jerked suddenly, such as in a car accident), your neck muscles can be damaged. If your head feels heavy with neck pain, it’s likely that the issue stems from your neck.
As well, if you have been hit in the head or have suffered a concussion, it’s possible that you can develop problems with your sense of balance, which can also commonly lead to a feeling of heaviness in your head. If your head feels heavy and dizzy, that can mean that you are having issues with balance. In this case, you will also likely have some nausea or vomiting.
Causes of Heavy Head
While neck and head injuries are two common causes of a heavy head feeling, there are actually a range of other potential causes that can leave your head feeling “off.” Some potential causes of a heavy feeling in the head include:
1. Head and Neck Injuries
As mentioned before, head and neck injuries can both cause a heavy head feeling, due to damage to your brain or muscles. Sometimes your head feels heavy and numb as a result of the muscle strain as well.
If you’re out of shape or don’t get enough exercise, then it’s possible that your heavy head feeling is due to fatigue and poor health. Fatigue causes you to exhausted all the time (even after rest), and can lead to feelings of heaviness or lightheadedness.
3. Conditions that Cause Fatigue
While fatigue can be due to lack of exercise, it can also be caused by a variety of different health conditions. These include thyroid disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic kidney disease, cancer, anemia, diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, and sleep apnea. It’s important to rule these conditions out.
4. Depression or Anxiety
Anxiety or depression can lead to headaches (1) and other head ailments. Often, anxiety can also cause a feeling of tightness or constriction in your head. Mental health can end up having a big impact on your physical health, and can often trigger lethargy, tiredness, headaches, and the heavy head feeling.
Migraines can cause severe pain and discomfort in your head, as well as a feeling of heaviness. They can be triggered by a variety of things, including stress, environmental factors, and hormonal changes.
Vertigo is a condition which is linked to damage of the ear. It can cause disturbances in vision and balance. It can also cause a heavy head feeling.
Everything from medication to excessive alcohol consumption can cause a feeling of heaviness in your head. It’s important to look at any side effects for the medication you take.
Recognizing the Feeling of Heavy Head
Usually, a heavy head feeling does not occur on its own. Often, there are many other symptoms that are experienced with heaviness in your head. Maybe your head feels foggy, or maybe you feel pressure in your head. Even though these two symptoms are opposites, they can both occur with a heavy head.
The main symptom you will feel is that your head feels like it has extra weight. Some other symptoms you can experience in your head can include:
- Brain fog, or trouble concentrating or thinking
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Numbness in your head
Heaviness in your head is also linked to some other symptoms that are not directly related to your head. These can include:
- Heart palpitations or chest pain
- Muscle tension
Link between Anxiety and Heavy Head
When people think of anxiety, they usually think of racing thoughts, excessive sweating, and a beating heart. However, anxiety is also linked with heavy head feelings.
When you have a panic attack or are experiencing severe anxiety, your body is being put under a large amount of stress. If your head feels pressure during a panic attack, this is due to the extreme increase in stress you are undergoing. The same thing which causes your heart rate to increase and your body to sweat also can cause pressure on your head, as well as migraines and headaches.
Head pressure anxiety is not a cause for concern. It’s harmless, even though it’s very uncomfortable. If your head heaviness is linked to anxiety attacks, then resolving your anxiety issues will also help resolve your head discomfort. If your head feels pressure during panic attacks, then using meditation, yoga, or cognitive behavioral therapy techniques may solve the issue.
How Heavy Head Is Diagnosed
Since there are so many causes of head heaviness, it’s important to see your family doctor and receive a diagnosis.
When evaluating your condition, your doctor will likely take into account your family history, symptoms, and past medical history. They will also probably order some tests to help narrow out certain conditions or ailments. These tests could include simple blood tests, brain scans (MRIs, CT scans), and hormone tests.
Your doctor will also perform a physical examination. If they cannot diagnose your condition, they may send you to a neurologist for further evaluation. Your doctor may also prescribe certain medications that may help, including pain relievers, or recommend certain over-the-counter medications such as aspirin.
Treating the Feeling of Heavy Head Naturally
If you don’t want to go on medication to solve your heavy head feeling, there are a variety of natural home remedies that you can use to help treat the condition.
1. Try Visualization Techniques
Sometimes, a heavy feeling in your head can simply be caused by stress, anxiety, or depression. While this type of head heaviness can be just as uncomfortable, it can also be easier to treat. Visualization techniques can help you eliminate this discomfort.
Simply close your eyes and concentrate. Imagine your head’s heaviness as an object, such as a cement block or brick. Then, still with your eyes closed and concentrating, picture that cement block being lifted and taken away. It may sound strange, but it can help your head feel clearer and lighter.
2. Rest Your Eyes
Heavy head feelings and migraines can be worsened by straining your eyes. Sitting at a computer, staring at a phone screen, or reading a book for long periods of time can end up causing pressure on your head. Rest your eyes. Avoid spending too long staring at screens. Make sure to take breaks when using computers or phones.
If you’re tired, then your heavy head feelings may be made worse by your sleepiness. Make sure you are getting eight to 10 hours of sleep every night. If you have trouble falling asleep, you can use melatonin supplements before bed, which will help you doze off.
Meditation can lower inflammation, decrease stress, strengthen regions of your brain, and eliminate head heaviness too. The great thing about meditation is that you only need a quiet place to use this treatment. Meditation involves sitting still, closing your eyes, and then focusing on your breath. Whenever a thought pops up into your mind, you simply bring your focus back to your breath. Look for an online tutorial that can help you get started.
5. Use Turmeric
Turmeric is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory foods, helping eliminate a variety of ailments. Turmeric can also help alleviate heavy head symptoms, and is also known to help improve brain health. Turmeric can be taken as a supplement, added to foods as a spice, or used as an additive for tea.
6. Exercise Your Eyes
If you want to eliminate eye strain, there are actually ways you can exercise your eyes and keep them from getting strained, tired, or aggravated. Simply blinking for a few minutes can help reduce your eye strain. There are other eye exercise routines available online.
7. Add More Fiber to Your Diet
Pressure in your stomach can lead to pressure in your head. Our guts and brains are connected by nerves, and what affects one can affect the other. Constipation can contribute to head heaviness in some cases. Adding more fiber to your diet can help you increase digestive function and reduce heaviness in your head.
When to See a Doctor
If you’re saying to yourself “my head feels heavy,” you may also be wondering when that feeling is severe enough to go see a doctor. While head heaviness is usually not in itself a serious concern, it could be a sign of something worse, like cancer or liver disease. While you should always see a doctor if you have head heaviness, here are some factors that should have you going to the doctor as soon as possible:
- If your head heaviness is accompanied with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or gastrointestinal upset
- If you’re having chest pains or heart palpitations
- If you’re experiencing other symptoms unrelated to your head or neck
- If you have previously suffered from a concussion, head injury, or whiplash
If your head feels full, it’s usually not a sign for major concern. Most of the time, when your head feels heavy, there is a simple cause behind your discomfort. Anxiety is linked with a feeling of heaviness in the head, which is why a variety of natural, at-home treatments can help. However, you should still see your doctor to rule out more serious conditions.