Headache Behind Left Eye – Tension Headache or Migraine?

When people think of a headache pain, they just think of a headache. But the truth is a headache behind left eye can be a different type of headache. And there is a vast difference in treating a headache and a migraine. Once you understand the difference in symptoms between a headache and a migraine attack, you will be better equipped and prepared to treat the condition.

For example, in terms of pain, headache behind left eye can be caused by both migraine and a sinus headache [1]. The difference is in terms of a migraine headache, the pain is only behind one eye and accompanied by pain elsewhere on the same side of the head. A sinus infection headache is less severe, and it might affect both eyes. With that in mind, let’s take a look at different types of a headache attack, and how you can treat them with some home remedies.

Types of headache

Cluster headache

This is a rare vascular-type headache that is vastly different from a tension and migraine headache [2, 3]. Cluster headache suffers are mostly men between the age of 20 and 30 years old. The headache is characterized by severe and stabbing pain around left or right eye, and the attack lasts 15 minutes to 3 hours. The cluster headache attack occurs once every other day or up to eight times daily.

The causes of this type of a headache are associated with abnormal hormone levels, abnormal neurotransmitter levels, dietary triggers, environmental triggers, and hypothalamus dysfunction.

Sinus infection

This is one of the most common types of headaches. Sinus infection can affect both the left and the right eye [4]. The symptoms are similar to cluster headaches. The pressure-like pain is in a specific area of the face or behind the eyes. Sudden head movements make the pain worse, especially bending forward. In the morning, pain caused by sinus headache is worse because of your sinuses collecting and draining mucus.

The simple explanation for sinus headache is clogged sinuses, as they can cause pain and pressure above the nose and between the eyes. In order to relieve the symptoms, you need to make sure that the sinuses are the cause for your headache.

Bear in mind, sinus headaches are accompanied by other symptoms. So, if pain is the only symptom, you have a different type of a headache. Symptoms accompanying pain are nasal discharge, cough, fatigue, sore throat, and stuffy nose [5].

Tension headache

The most common type of a headache is a tension headache. That is because we live in a world where stress is just a daily ingredient of life [6]. Tension headache can cause mild, moderate, or intense pain in the neck, head, and headache behind left eye. Majority of patients have episodic attacks occurring one or two times per month on average. However, tension headaches can also be chronic, and some statistics show that 3% of the US population suffers from chronic headache attacks [7]. Women are more likely to suffer from tension headaches.

The most common cause for this type of a headache is muscle contraction in the head and neck region [8]. While stress is the risk factor, some people develop tension headaches after starring at a computer screen for a long time. Other triggers include eye strain, dry eyes, alcohol, fatigue, smoking, cold, flu, sinus infection, poor posture, emotional stress, and caffeine.

How is migraine different

The best way to understand whether you have a migraine or just a simple headache behind left eye is to look at the symptoms [9]. There is a difference in severity, intensity, and much more

  • Migraine causes pulsating, pounding, and throbbing pain, while tension headache causes dull pressure. Migraine can also cause sensitivity to bright light, smells, and loud noise
  • Pain behind only one side of the eye is a symptom of a migraine attack. Pain throughout the head, across the forehead, or at the base of the neck is a sign for a tension headache
  • Migraine can be quite painful, while tension headache is mild in severity. Migraine can prevent you from working or focusing
  • Length is another symptom that is different. Migraine headache worsens over time, while tension headache develops and resolves quickly, typically within a day

Home remedies for headache behind left eye

Lavender oil

Lavender essential oil has been praised for helping relieve stress and pain. All you have to do is inhale lavender oil during a migraine attack. After 15 minutes, you’ll already feel the relief. Another option is to apply lavender oil to the temples. For the latter treatment, make sure to dilute the lavender with a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil.


This practice has been so popular in Asian countries. China, Japan, Korea, and so on thrive on acupressure. The technique recommends applying pressure to specific points on the body to relieve pain and other symptoms. You’ll be surprised to see what people in Asia are treating with acupressure. Even studies have shown that acupressure can help with migraine-associated headache pain behind left eye. It is all about finding the right spots on your body to relieve pain.

Peppermint oil

Same as lavender oil, peppermint has quite some benefits for our overall health. In terms of migraine and headache pain behind left eye, peppermint helps thanks to the menthol in the oil [10]. Peppermint can stop a migraine from coming, but also relieve symptoms once it hits. Dilute the oil, and then apply to the forehead and temples.


Ginger has been used for treating nausea symptoms for many years. It helps relieve nausea, whether it is migraine caused or by something else. In addition, ginger helps with other migraine symptoms as well. It helps reduce both the severity and duration of the migraine attack.


One of the simplest ways to fight off headache behind left eye is to up your magnesium consumption. Magnesium helps relax the muscles, and relieve tension that might be causing headache pain. Studies have shown that magnesium deficiency is directly linked with migraines [11]. Some magnesium rich foods include almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, cashews, spinach, kale eggs, milk, certified oatmeal, peanut butter, and Brazilian nuts.

Vitamin B2

This is a vitamin you can easily source from fish and chicken. But mostly from fatty fish. Called riboflavin, studies have shown that this vitamin can help both prevent and treat migraines and headache pain [12].

Cold compress

If you do not have any essential oil around, applying a cold compress will do the trick. You need to apply an ice pack on the same spot as with essential oil. That includes the forehead, but you can also put a cold compress on your scalp and neck to relieve pain. Experts say that reducing the flow of blood might be the reason why cold compress helps with migraine attack.


Bear in mind, this doesn’t mean you need to drink 2 or 3 cups of coffee once migraine strikes. Caffeine can be sourced from other things as well. That said, caffeine will provide a mild relief, and it will also help your body absorb migraine drugs better and faster. Make sure not to over consume. Drinking more caffeine beverages will lead to side effects like fatigue and even more headaches [13].


This is one of the home remedies for headache behind left eye that are great for prevention, but not so much for treating. You should never exercise when you are in a middle of a migraine attack. Doing that will make the pain even worse. However, when you feel good, do some exercises that will help your body release endorphins and other chemicals that fight pain. It is also worth noting that exercise helps relieve stress, one of the main causes of headache behind left eye.

Sleep well

Last, but not least, regular sleep is the key to preventing migraines. Too little or too much sleep will trigger headaches and lower your threshold for pain. Your goal should be to between 7 and 8 hours of sleep every night.

Source :

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

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