Various factors can cause the head to feel heavy, including balance disorders, headaches, and a person’s posture.

The average adult head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds (lb) in a neutral or upright position. However, there are instances when the head can seem heavier than usual.

This can be because of the mechanics of the neck and spine. It may also be due to underlying medical conditions. If the head feels heavy, there is usually no need to seek emergency medical treatment.

This article explores the causes of heavy head sensation and the associated symptoms. It also details treatment options and home remedies.

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Some of the potential causes that make the head feel heavy include:

1. Balance disorders

Dizziness and lightheadedness that affect balance can cause the head to feel heavier. These symptoms can also be those of a balance disorder.

Several types of balance disorders exist. These include:

Each disorder can make a person feel like their head is heavier than usual.

2. Myasthenia gravis

Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a condition that causes the muscles to become weaker than usual. Symptoms can initially cause weakness and fatigue in the neck muscles.

MG can make previously simple tasks such as chewing, talking, or holding up the head more difficult. These may also be symptoms of bulbar weakness symptoms.

3. Poor posture

Poor posture is how your body holds a position that can cause long-term harm. This may relate to neck pain or issues with the neck or head.

If someone finds their head feels heavy, they can evaluate how they have been holding it. Prolonged posture that is not the neutral or upright position may cause the head to feel especially heavy.

4. Sinus headache

A sinus headache can cause pain and pressure, making the head feel especially heavy. People experience this headache when the sinus passages in the front of the face swell.

Bacteria and viruses can become trapped inside the sinus passages, leading to swelling, yellow discharge, and nasal stuffiness.

5. Tension headache

A tension headache is another common type of headache. They cause a dull pain that feels like squeezing in the head.

This headache can also cause shoulder and neck muscle tension, making the head heavier. A person with a tension headache typically has it for 20 minutes to 2 hours.

6. Muscle strain

The head may feel heavy due to straining the muscles at the neck. This can occur if a person stares at a screen for too long or sits in a particular position for a long time. Other causes of muscle strain may include:

  • injuries
  • car accidents, which may cause whiplash
  • lifting heavy objects incorrectly

Taking frequent breaks from working in a particular position, such as sitting at a computer screen, can help.

The associated symptoms when the head feels heavy can depend on the underlying causes.

Most people will experience symptoms that include muscle tension, especially in the muscles of the neck and shoulders. This tension can result in stiffness in the neck, making it difficult to move the head from side to side.

Other symptoms associated with when the head feels heavy include headaches, especially on both sides of the head.

If someone’s head feels heavy due to poor posture, they can try to take breaks from looking down. This change of position may involve taking intervals in activities such as typing, texting, or working to stretch the neck and maintain it in a neutral position.

If someone experiences a headache that makes their head feel heavy, they can take over-the-counter pain medications. Examples include acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

A person may also try to identify what triggers their tension headache. Examples can include hunger, not sleeping enough, or grinding their teeth at night. Avoiding these habits and, if necessary, getting treatment for them may help a person reduce their tension headaches.

Healthcare professionals treat balance disorders with medications, which can include:

  • Anticholinergics: Anticholinergics include scopolamine, which traditionally treats seasickness.
  • Antiemetics: Antiemetic drugs treat nausea caused by dizziness. Examples include the combination of dexamethasone (Decadron) and ondansetron (Zofran).
  • Antihistamines: Antihistamines can reduce allergy symptoms and the effects of motion sickness. Examples of treatments include meclizine (Antivert), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and promethazine (Phenergan).
  • Benzodiazepines: These medications relieve anxiety as well as manage acute motion sickness and vertigo. Examples of benzodiazepines that doctors use to treat dizziness include diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), and alprazolam (Xanax).

Other treatments for balance disorders include exercises to reduce dizziness. An example is the Epley maneuver, which helps reduce the effects of dizziness related to the inner ear.

Headache-relieving home remedies include applying a heating pad to the neck and shoulders. It is essential to ensure the heating pad is covered with a cloth so that a person does not burn their skin.

People with diabetes and neurological disorders may experience reduced sensitivity, making it difficult to sense when something is too hot. People with these conditions can consult a doctor before using a heating pad if they have diabetes or neurological disorders.

People may perform neck-strengthening exercises at home if their neck muscles are especially weakened. These exercises can help reduce muscle tension and strengthen the neck.

However, one can check with a doctor before beginning exercise programs. Examples of these programs include:

Chin tuck

This exercise can help strengthen the neck muscles responsible for maintaining excellent posture. To perform it, a person can stand against a wall, pull their shoulders back, and look straight ahead.

Move and tuck the chin downward to feel a stretch in the back of the neck and the muscles on either side of the collarbone. Hold this position for 5 seconds, release, and repeat 10 times.

Back burn

The back burn exercise can enhance posture and strengthen the neck muscles. To perform it, stand against a wall with the arms outstretched at shoulder height and palms facing forward.

Slowly raise the arms, bringing them close to the ears, palms facing forward. Slowly lower the arms back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times, at least three to five times a day.

Symptoms often resolve with at-home treatments, such as improving posture or taking steps to reduce tension headaches. However, if symptoms worsen or interfere with daily life and activities, it is important to seek medical treatment.

One instance where a head could feel heavy is a person experiencing a stroke. A stroke is a medical emergency. Some of the signs associated with a stroke include:

  • difficulty speaking well or clearly
  • facial droop
  • sudden problems walking and keeping balance
  • severe and sudden headache
  • weakness in the arms and neck

A person should call 911 immediately if they think they are experiencing a stroke or heart attack.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the head feeling heavy.

What causes a heavy feeling in your head?

A heavy feeling in the head may stem from fatigue, headaches, balance disorders, poor posture, or an underlying condition such as Myasthenia gravis.

How do you get rid of pressure in your head?

Depending on the cause, getting rid of pressure in the head may involve:

  • reducing stress
  • taking painkillers for headaches
  • taking steps to improve posture
  • talking with a doctor to identify the underlying cause.

What does brain pressure feel like?

Brain pressure may feel like a throbbing headache, dizziness, temporary vision loss, mental confusion, and weakness.

If a person’s head feels unusually heavy, many potential causes and treatments exist. Taking steps to relieve fatigue and anxiety and stretching the neck can help reduce symptoms.