Should I Worry About a Headache Only on One Side?
Do you often get headaches on one side of your head? When should you see a doctor? Headache specialist Emad Estemalik, MD, explains.
A: Headaches can come in many forms. Because the way you experience headaches can vary (and so do their underlying causes), you should make sure you’re paying close attention to how the headaches are affecting you.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
If you’re getting headaches only on one side of your head you shouldn’t worry, but you should make an appointment with your doctor. One-sided headaches can mean different things. But they often point to a group of disorders that will need a thorough exam to provide treatment.
According to headache specialist Emad Estemalik, MD, there are additional questions your doctor will focus on to identify what’s causing your one-sided headaches.
First, are the headaches continuous or do they come and go? And second, how long do the headaches last? Your answers help your doctor narrow down which category your headaches fall under.
When we talk about unilateral or one-sided headaches, there’s a distinct family of headache disorders trigeminal autonomic cephalgias (or TACs). There are four distinct types of headaches:
“If you have one-sided headaches, it really is important to seek an evaluation by a neurologist or a headache specialist,” Dr. Estemalik says. “A thorough exam is crucial for the proper treatment and brain imaging is often necessary to rule out any secondary causes.”