Why Is My Headache Worse When Lying Down

You may be wondering is your headache worse when lying down, you are not alone. Read on to find out what type of headache that is, the causes, and treatments.

Headaches are symptoms of a lot of conditions, from mild to severe health conditions. There are different types of headaches and at some point in your life, you must have at least experienced one type of headache.

Headache Worse When Lying Down: Common types of headaches are:

  • Tension headache
  • Migraine
  • Cluster headache
  • Positional headache
  • Sinus headache
  • Post-traumatic headache
  • Spinal headache
  • Menstrual/ hormone headache

There are several different causes of headache, stress being the most common cause, then there is an allergy, dehydration, caffeine, and so on. 

Headache worse when lying down can be a result of some types of headache disorders such as:   Idiopathic Intracranial hypertension and infection of the sinuses

Other brain disorders could cause your headache to worse when you lie down, I recommend that you see your doctor as soon as you begin to notice this sign.


This is otherwise known as Pseudotumor Cerebri (PTC). It is common in obese women. The fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain is called cerebrospinal fluid and it is responsible for supplying the brain and spinal cord with nutrients while removing impurities also.

After the cerebrospinal fluid is circulated, it is reabsorbed in the body through blood vessels, if too much fluid is produced or not enough is reabsorbed, it builds up, causing pressure in the brain which can cause symptoms relating to brain tumors.  
Often PTC occurs at the back of your head resulting in pain that tends to worsen when you lie down. 


Due to the pressure formed on the brain by the cerebrospinal fluid, the common symptom of PTC is headache, which is followed by other symptoms like: nausea, double vision, dizziness, stiff neck, difficulty seeing to the side, loss of vision, depression, change in vision, persistent ringing in the ears. These symptoms can increase or worsen with exercise or any physical activity.


You are prone to have PTC if you have the following risk factors:
i. Women: Especially women of childbearing age who are obese. Women are more likely to have PTC than men.
ii. Certain medications: Use of lithium, tetracycline, certain steroid, too much vitamin A, and growth hormone medication is linked to PTC.
iii. Health problems: Certain disease conditions are linked to PTC. Diseases such as :  Anemia  Addison’s disease  Blood-clotting disorders  Kidney diseases  Lupus  Polycystic ovary syndrome  Sleep apnea  Underactive parathyroid glands
iv. Blood vessel irregularities: Some people have narrow veins that drain blood and cerebrospinal fluid from the brain, resulting in increased pressure in the brain.


Common headaches such as migraine or tension headaches can coexist with PTC, which can complicate the diagnosis. Diagnosing PTC involves ruling out other health problems.

Your doctor may carry out some physical exams and run some tests that can help identify PTC. Such tests include:
1) Brain imaging tests such as MRI or CT scans.
2) A lumbar puncture test to measure the pressure inside your skull and analyze your spinal fluid.
3) An ophthalmologist will conduct an eye exam to check for a distinctive type of swelling affecting the optic nerve in the back of your eyes. Your ophthalmologist will also do a visual test to check for blind spots in your vision.


To treat PTC, your doctor has to first determine what is causing the fluid to build up inside the skull, when that is done, any of the treatment measures might be recommended: 

– Weight loss- Medications such as diuretics to get rid of excess fluid.

– A spinal tab might be done to remove fluid and reduce pressure.

– You may be advised to limit fluid or salt in the diet.

– A surgery may be performed to redirect fluid from the brain and ease pressure or decompress increased cerebrospinal fluid around the optic nerve.


Sinusitis is mostly mistaken for migraine because the signs and symptoms are similar. However, sinusitis is not associated with nausea and is not aggravated by noise, all of which are common features of migraines.


This type of headache is usually a result of an allergic reaction, other times it might occur after a viral upper respiratory infection or cold and included thick discolored nasal mucus. This type of headache often lasts days, sometimes longer.


Stuffy nose, fatigue, worsening pain when you bend or lie down, nasal discharge, a dry feeling in your upper teeth, pain, pressure, and fullness in your cheeks or forehead.


To treat sinusitis, your doctor might recommend any of the following:
i) Over-the-counter pain relievers: OTC medications such as acetaminophen, naproxen sodium, and ibuprofen.
ii) Regular Exercise: Aerobic exercises help to reduce tension and prevent headaches.
iii) Avoid triggers: Since this type of headache can be caused by an allergic reaction, avoiding factors that encourage your allergy is advised.


Your headache gets worse when lying down most times because you have a sinusitis headache which commonly occurs when you have been exposed to a cold.

Other reasons you may have a worse headache when lying down could be as a result of an allergy or pressure in the brain due to the accumulation of the cerebrospinal fluid.

Either way, you should see your doctor, because on rare occasions this could be a symptom of a tumor growing in your brain and you’ll never know until you check with him.

Then if it is a tumor, early treatment will commence. It is better safe than sorry.

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