Could a burning sensation on the left side of my head be a stroke symptom?

1 answer | Last updated: Mar 19, 2015
Amen asked...

About 3 weeks ago, I had some really bad family issues, which brought about a tremendous amount of anxiety and stress. At the height of these arguments, I felt a burning streak, on the left side of my head. It has since gone away, and only bothers me agin when i stress out. Is this something that could be related to a stroke?


Expert Answers

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

The fact that this sensation only comes on with anxiety and stress makes it most likely a benign headache type, such as a migraine or migraine variant.

That said, if it is the first time anything like this has happened to you, I would err on the side of caution and talk to your doctor about obtaining an image of the brain, just to be sure there is no anatomical reason for the sensation.  Either a CT scan or an MRI should be fine.  A big element of how aggressive to be in evaluating this pain is your age and other risk factors.  If you are young and otherwise healthy, this is most likely a benign issue.  If you are older and have other health problems, I would be somewhat more aggressive about getting a good quality image of your head and brain.