New Health Guide

What Causes Headache and Flushed Face?

Jan 08, 2018

Flushed face and a headache can be caused due to various medical conditions including high blood pressure, acute reaction to stress, acute sinusitis, anxiety, alcohol abuse, heatstroke and high fever to name a few. Flushing is characterized by involuntary redness of the facial skin, which occurs due to increased flow of blood to the face. The article deals with various causes of flushing of face along with headache and how to deal with these symptoms.

What Are the Causes of Flushed Face and Headache?

  1. Hypertension

Hypertension or high blood pressure is characterized by increase of blood pressure to unhealthy level. The blood pressure is measured by two readings:

Systolic pressure: This number indicates pressure of blood in the arteries when the heart contracts and pumps blood into the body.

Diastolic pressure: This number is the pressure of the blood in the arteries when the heart relaxes.

A healthy or normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg. When the diastolic pressure lies between 90 and 99 mm Hg or the systolic pressure lies between 140 and 159 mm Hg, it is referred to as Stage 1 HTN. A diastolic pressure above 100 mm Hg or a systolic pressure above 160 mm Hg is characterized as advanced or Stage 2 HTN.

There are two types of HTN: Primary or essential and Secondary.

Essential hypertension has no known cause. Several factors such as genes, environment and physical changes work together and may raise your blood pressure.

Secondary hypertension may occur due to the following:

  • Kidney disease
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Congenital defects of the heart
  • Thyroid problems
  • Medicine side effects
  • Problems with adrenal gland
  • OSA (obstructive sleep apnea)

Symptoms of hypertension

People suffering from hypertension usually do not experience any signs and symptoms. If symptoms occur they are:

  • Flushed face and headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Changes of vision
  • Blood in urine


Treatment involves making lifestyle changes and taking medicines.

Lifestyle changes include eating a heart-healthy diet that is low in sodium and rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins, increasing exercise, maintaining healthy weight and managing stress.

Medicines used to treat hypertension are beta blockers, diuretics, ace inhibitors, ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers), calcium channel blockers and alpha-2 agonists.

  1. Acute Stress Disorder

In the days or weeks following a traumatic occurrence, a person may develop acute stress disorder. ASD lasts for at least 3 days and may remain there for up to a month. Acute stress disorder may occur due to experiencing or witnessing traumatic events such as death, threat of a serious injury to others or oneself or threat of impending death to others or oneself.

Symptoms of acute stress disorder

Apart from the symptom of red face and headache you may have the following symptoms:

  • Feeling detached, numb or emotionally unresponsive
  • Decreased awareness of surroundings
  • Your environment appears unreal or strange to you
  • Dissociative amnesia which happens when you are not able to remember events of the traumatic experience
  • Depersonalization, which happens when your emotions or thoughts don’t appear real
  • You may have recurring thoughts, images, flashbacks, or illusions of your traumatic experience
  • You may avoid people, places, objects, etc. that make you remember the traumatic experience
  • You may have trouble in sleeping, irritability, difficulty concentration or constant tension


  • Your physician may do your psychiatric evaluation and determine what your needs are
  • You may be hospitalized if you are found to be at risk of harming others or committing suicide
  • You will be given medicines to ease symptoms such as antidepressants, antianxiety drugs and SSRIs
  • You may be given Hypnotherapy
  • You may be given psychiatric education to give you knowledge about the disorder
  • You may be given CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)
  1. Acute Sinusitis

Acute sinusitis is an inflammation of the lining of the sinuses and nose. This impairs the drainage of mucus from the sinuses and nose. Conditions and illnesses that may cause acute sinusitis are:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Fungi
  • Allergies including hay fever
  • Polyps of the nose
  • Deviated nasal septum
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Infected adenoids

Symptoms of acute sinusitis

Apart from flushed face and headache, other symptoms of acute sinusitis are:

  • Congestion of nose
  • Sore throat
  • A thick green or yellow discharge of mucus from nose
  • Cough
  • Discharge of mucus at back of throat
  • Pain in ear
  • Pain in teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Decreased sense of taste and smell
  • Pressure, tenderness or pain behind nose, eyes, forehead or cheek

Treatment of acute sinusitis

At home treatment:

  • A warm, moist washcloth: put it over the sinuses to relieve symptoms of pain.
  • Humidifier: It can be used to keep air moist.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids.
  • Saline nasal sprays should be used to clean and rinse nasal passages.
  • OTC nasal sprays (corticosteroid) such as Flonase may decrease sinus and nasal inflammation.
  • OTC pain killers such as Tylenol or Advil may help in relieving pain.
  • Sleeping with head elevated may encourage drainage of your sinuses.

Your physician may prescribe antibiotics in case you suffer from acute bacterial sinusitis. If your sinusitis is due to allergies you may be given allergy shots.

  1. High Fever

High fever is temporary rise in the temperature of your body, most often due to a disease. Additional symptoms and signs of fever are the following:

  • Flushed face and headache
  • Sweating
  • Shivering and chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches
  • Generalized weakness

You should visit your physician under the following circumstances:


Call the physician of your baby if your kid is:

Younger than 3 months and their rectal temperature is higher than 38 degree C (100.4 F).

Between 3 and 6 months of age and their rectal temperature is up to 38.9 degree C (102 F) and they appear irritable, uncomfortable or lethargic or their rectal temperature is greater than 38.9 degree C (102 F).

Between 6 and 24 months of age and their rectal temperature is greater than 38.9 degree C (102 F) and lasts for duration of more than one day.


Call the physician if your kid is irritable or listless, has repeated vomiting or severe stomachache.

Has fever for more than 3 days.


Call the physician if your fever is 39.4 degree C (103 F) or more or you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain in head
  • Mental confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Mental confusion
  • Seizures
  • Pain in abdomen
  • Stiff neck
  • Unusual skin rash


For high fever, OTC medicines such as Tylenol or ibuprofen may be recommended. Antibiotics may be prescribed if the cause of your fever is a bacterial infection.

Lifestyle remedies

  • Take lots of rest.
  • Stay cool by dressing in light clothing, keeping the temperature of room cool and sleeping with only light blanket.
  • Stay adequately hydrated by drinking lots of fluids/water..

5. Tension Headaches

Tension headaches may result in mild, moderate or severe pain in the head, behind the eyes or neck. According to some patients, a tension headache is described as a feeling of a tight band surrounding their foreheads. These headaches are usually caused by contractions of muscles in the neck and head. Some of the triggers are cold temperatures, alcohol, dry eyes, eye strain, fatigue, sinus infection, poor posture, caffeine, emotional stress and a flu or cold. The symptoms of headache may also be accompanied by flushing of face. Medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter, are given to decrease the headache. You can also make certain lifestyle changes to reduce your headache. Some of these changes are managing your levels of stress, maintaining good posture and applying ice or heat to soothe the muscles.

6. Heat Stroke

It is the most serious type of heat injury, which is regarded a medical emergency. Its symptoms are flushing and headache along with dizziness, fainting, weakness and cramps of muscles, seizures, shallow and rapid breathing, vomiting and nausea, lack of sweating and unconsciousness. The temperature of the body reaches above 104 degree F. A person with heat stroke should be taken immediately to an emergency room. While you are waiting for the arrival of paramedics, move the patient to an environment with an air conditioner. You can immerse the person in a tub filled with cool water. Apply cool packs to armpits, neck, back and groin areas of the patient.

7. Sunburn

When you expose your skin to the sun’s rays for a long duration of time, it burns, resulting in irritated and red skin. Due to sunburn, your skin becomes red and it hurts. It the sunburn is severe, your skin may develop blisters and it may swell. You may even develop flu like symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, nausea and weakness. Your skin will begin to itch and peel some days later as your body gets rid of the cells damaged by the sun. You can get relief by applying cold compresses to the sunburn skin. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

8. Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis, also referred to as mono is a viral illness that is caused due to infection with EBV or Epstein-Barr virus. The virus gets spread via saliva; hence, the disease is also called ‘the kissing disease’. Majority of the cases of mononucleosis are mild and get better easily. The symptoms of the disease are high fever, swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits and neck, sore throat, flushed face and headache, fatigue, swollen tonsils, weakness of muscles and night sweats. You may get flushed face due to the rash that accompanies mono or due to high fever. No particular treatment is there for mononucleosis. However, your physician may give you OTC drugs to decrease pain and fever. You may be advised home remedies such as gargling with salt water, resting a lot, staying hydrated, consuming warm chicken broth and using over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol.

9. Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder in which the breathing of a person stops and begins repeatedly while sleeping. You may suffer from sleep apnea in case you have loud snoring and you suffer from fatigue even after an entire night’s sleep. One of the symptoms of sleep apnea is morning headache and flushed face. Headache occurs due to disturbed sleep and flushed face may occur due to raised haematocrit levels over time due to low levels of oxygen. For mild cases, lifestyle changes are recommended including quitting smoking and losing excess weight. For more severe cases, other treatments options are advised such as continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP, bilevel positive airway pressure or BiPAP, expiratory positive airway pressure or EPAP or oral appliances