What Is A Sinus Infection
A sinus infection, medically known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, occurs when your nasal cavities become infected, swollen, and inflamed. Fluid buildup in the sinuses can cause germs to grow, leading to a sinus infection.
Sinusitis is usually caused by a virus and often lasts even after other upper respiratory symptoms are gone. In some cases, bacteria or, rarely, fungus may cause a sinus infection.
Sinusitis As A Cause Of Sinus Pain
This type of sinus pain can vary in severity as well. When chronic pain results from this kind of deformity, it is usually best to repair the deviations surgically in order to restore the airways to their usual shape.
The root of the pain could also be sinusitis. There are several clues that will show if the sinuses are blocked or infected, and what is causing the pain if there is no congestion involved or any other symptoms for that matter.
When this is the problem, a person will usually experience one-sided pain, pain that is worse when the person leans their head down, pain that begins after a cold even though there are no more remaining symptoms, or pain that has a clear response to the use of antibiotics.
All these things will point to the fact that the problem could be sinusitis.
The Most Common Misdiagnosis For Migraine Is This
You guessed it, sinus headache.
According to recently published research, over half of all those with migraine who participated in their study were misdiagnosed. The authors concluded that the under-recognition of migraine constitutes a significant public health problem.
Why are so many people not diagnosed?
There are a number of reasons why an individual with symptoms of migraine report that they havent been diagnosed by a health professional. These include:
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Make The Sinus Pain And Mind
“Techniques that take advantage of the mind-body connection, such as deep breathing practices and relaxation exercises, can be very effective for relieving sinus pain,” notes Das. These practices rely on the mind’s ability to influence pain perception and are especially helpful with chronic or recurrent pain that is often seen with sinus pressure. Some examples include biofeedback, meditation, yoga, and hypnotherapy.
About Author: David Pruitt
David Pruitt is a writer for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare. He has a bachelors of journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and worked as a reporter before joining OSF HealthCare in 2014. An avid golfer and fisherman, David was born and raised Alton, Illinois, which is where he currently resides with his son, James.
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Five Ways To Relieve Sinus Pressure
The pain, facial pressure and congestion of sinus infections affect more than 26.9 million Americans roughly 11 percent of adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Most sinus infections, also called sinusitis, do not need to be treated with antibiotics, and will usually go away within 7-10 days.
One of the most annoying symptoms is the sinus pressure around the eyes, head and cheeks. Fortunately, there are several home remedies and medications that can help provide relief.
How Do I Know If My Headache Is Migraine Or Sinus Headache
So, how do you know if your headache is migraine and not sinus? Go beyond the nasal and sinus congestion and the facial pain and pressure look for a headache associated with the inability to function normally at work, school, home or social functions, nausea, sensitivity to light and triggers such as weather change, menstrual cycle, and stress . Significantly, it is commonly thought that weather change often causes sinus headache when weather change is a common trigger for migraine.
You can also ask yourself the following questions from the ID Migraine Questionnaire developed by Dr. Richard Lipton of Albert Einstein College of Medicine:
- In the past three months, how disabling are your headaches? Do they interfere with your ability to function?
- Do you ever feel nausea when you have a headache?
- Do you become sensitive to light while you have a headache?
If you answer yes to two of the above three criteria, migraine is likely 93% of the time. If you answer yes to all three, a migraine diagnosis is 98% likely.
The American Migraine Foundation is committed to improving the lives of those living with this debilitating disease. For more of the latest news and information on migraine, visit the AMF Resource Library. For help finding a healthcare provider, check out our Find a Doctor tool. Together, we are as relentless as migraine.
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How Do You Diagnose Sinus Headaches Caused By Migraines
Sinus headaches are most likely due to migraines or tension headaches. Migraines are diagnosed by symptoms, including the frequency and severity of symptoms, family history, and by physical exam. Migraines can also include nausea and vomiting. These episodes may be triggered by hormonal changes, lack of sleep, certain foods or alcohol or caffeine, stress, or environmental changes like weather, altitude changes, or allergens. Many patients with migraines have family members who also experience migraine headaches.
If you have unusual or severe symptoms, additional tests such as an MRI of the brain may be ordered to rule out more serious conditions that can cause headache pain, such as tumors or bleeding around the brain. If you have repeated episodes of sinus pain and pressure, a nasal endoscopy or imaging such as an MRI or CT scan can determine if sinus pain or pressure is due to a sinus infection or other sinus pathology. A normal sinus CT scan while you have symptoms could help rule out sinusitis, and determine if migraines, headaches, or other causes of facial pain and pressure are causing the sinus symptoms.
Other causes of facial pain and pressure can include temporomandibular joint syndrome, clenching or grinding your teeth, trigeminal nerve pain, temporal arteritis , dental infection, or other neurologic causes of facial pain.
Sinus Headache Without Congestion
Jennifer is a contributing health writer who has been researching and writing health content with PlushCare for 3 years. She is passionate about bringing accessible healthcare and mental health services to people everywhere.
Dr. Heidi Lightfoot
Dr. Heidi Lightfoot
Medically reviewed by Dr. Heidi Lightfoot, MD who is an anesthesiologist in Hampshire, United Kingdom. Alongside her clinical work, she has an interest in medical writing and clinical research.
May 13, 2020 Read Time – 4 minutes
Congestion is one of the main symptoms and causes of sinus headaches. This is because the swelling and mucus clog the sinuses and leads to pressure buildup by preventing proper airflow or drainage of mucus.
It is very rare to experience a sinus headache without congestion. If you have a headache that seems like a sinus headache, but have no congestion, it is less likely to be a sinus headache.
Sinus headaches are usually accompanied by congestion.
This is because sinus infections often stem from upper respiratory infections. An infection like this causes swelling in the sinuses, which are very small, and makes your body produce more mucus, which helps fight off these infections. However, the swelling and increased mucus production lead to congestion and prevent normal drainage of your sinuses, which leads to pain.
Read on to learn more about sinus headaches and what other type of headache you may be experiencing instead.
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How Do You Know If Youre Experiencing Sinus Pressure
Before we get into the weeds of answering the question, Can you have sinus pressure but no congestion? its important that we review the basics of sinus pressure.
A sinus headache is a symptom of built-up pressure in the sinus cavities typically causing maxillary sinus pain. This buildup occurs when your nasal passages mucus can no longer drain properly. In other words, sinus pressure and the sinus sinus headaches it causes are linked to congestion.Since pressure buildup can get intense, many people have confused sinus pressure for a migraine and vice versa. However, sinus pressure is typically accompanied with other symptoms and frequently occurs in tandem with certain conditions.
If youre experiencing any of the following situations, you may be feeling the effects of sinus pressure instead of a migriane:
- You are feeling throbbing around your eyes, forehead, and nose. You may also be feeling this throbbing in your cheeks, jaw, ears, teeth, or back of the head.
- You are currently suffering from allergies or have a sinus infection.
- You have thick mucus.
- You feel the majority of the pain in the morning.
Keep in mind that if you do have sinus pressure, this doesnt necessarily mean you have a sinus infection. Everyday, non-serious issues, including allergies and the common cold can lead to sinus pressure and sinus headaches.
If you are experiencing congestion, here are a few quick tips on how to get rid of sinus congestion.
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
Also Check: How Do You Diagnose A Sinus Infection
What Can I Do About Recurring Sinus Headaches
Many sinus headaches, especially those that recur, are actually migraines. But its smart to see your healthcare provider to figure out the cause of your headaches.
You may find that the best long-term solution is figuring out what triggers your migraine headaches so you can avoid them. Its helpful to keep a headache diary to track potential triggers. Triggers you can control include:
- Specific foods, such as chocolate, red wine or strong cheese.
- Lack of sleep.
I Know What It Is Now What
Once you understand the checklist youll have a much better idea of which category you fall into. Of course, youll want to confirm this with your doctor for an official diagnosis. If you think that you are one of the majority and that your sinus headaches are actually migraine then its time to see a headache specialist. The good news is that with good treatment and support from a specialist you can significantly improve your condition.
Many people with headaches and sinus complaints self-treat with over the counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen/paracetamol. In most cases, migraine-specific medication and personalized strategies are far more effective.
A range of treatment options are available depending on the severity and frequency of your headaches.
One of the most effective types of medicinal migraine treatments are called the triptans. Ninety-two percent of people from the SAMS study were candidates for triptans, but only 12% were using them.
Triptans require a doctors prescription and can be very useful if headaches are not very frequent. For more severe and frequently recurring cases there are preventative treatment options which help prevent attacks before they occur. There are medicinal and non medicinal preventives which you should explore with your doctor.
A word of caution: migraine overall is poorly managed.
Many people still havent been diagnosed. Fewer receive quality treatment.
IF YOU HAVE MIGRAINE DO THIS NEXT BEFORE THINGS GET WORSE
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How Long Do Sinus Headaches Last
Viruses cause most sinus infections. A viral sinus infection typically resolves on its own. Similar to how the common cold clears up by itself, your sinus headache should feel better within about a week. If it doesnt go away, see your healthcare provider. You may have a bacterial or fungal sinus infection that requires medication.
Can You Have Sinus Pressure But No Congestion
Can you have sinus pressure but no congestion? And if you can, does this mean you have a sinus infection that requires special treatment? If not, exactly what can mimic a sinus infection?
Unfortunately, the answers to this slippery slope of questions arent always so cut and dry. In particular, with a headache like this, theres a chance that its not a sinus headache, but a migraine. The treatment and causes of a migraine and sinus pressure are very different, but the symptoms can overlap significantly. These overlapping symptoms can lead to confusion and leave people at a loss for which types of treatment to pursue.
If youre feeling sinus pressure without the typical influx of mucus, heres what you need to know.
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How To Spot The Difference Between Migraines & Sinus Headaches
If you have a runny nose, watery eyes and your head hurts, you might assume that you have a sinus headache. But studies show that about 90% of self-diagnosed sinus headaches are actually migraine.
Theres a belief that sinus headache is a common illness. The marketing of over-the-counter medications designed to treat these symptoms reinforce this belief.. However, a sinus headache is not as common as you might think.
How can you tell if you have migraine or sinus headache and get the treatment you need? Lets start by defining migraine and sinus headache.
Spice Up Your Diet To Ease Sinus Pressure
“Many people find that spicy food like peppers or hot mustard opens up their nasal passages and gives them some relief from sinus pain. There is good evidence that capsaicin, which is the active ingredient found in chile peppers, is effective in relieving some types of pain,” says Das. Capsaicin preparations have been investigated for the treatment of some facial pain syndromes and of rhinitis with promising results. But if you have the taste for them, you can try spicy foods to help with sinus discomfort.
What Are Sinus Headaches
Real sinus headaches are almost always from a sinus infection. Sinus infections are common with 10% to 30% of the population experiencing at least one sinus infection each year.
Sinus infections are also known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis. This occurs when the sinus becomes inflamed. Common symptoms include thick nasal mucous, blocked nose and facial pain. Sinus infections may be caused by an infection, allergy or air pollution. Most cases are due to viral infection. Infections are often transmitted through coughing, sneezing, kissing, contact with contaminated surfaces, food or water or contact with infected animals or pets.
To understand how sinus headaches are confused with migraine its important to know what migraine is.
Irrigate To Relieve Sinus Pressure
“Salt water irrigation is the best way to cleanse the nose and sinuses this can help prevent or relieve sinus pain. You can use an over-the-counter saline nasal spray, but I recommend using a sinus rinse bottle, neti pot, or bulb syringe irrigation kit that you can get at the drugstore,” advises Das.
Try this commonly-used, easy-to-make nasal irrigation solution with your own sinus irrigation kit: Fill a clean 8-ounce glass with distilled or sterilized lukewarm water. Do not use tap water unless it has been boiled for at least 1 minute . Add 1/2 teaspoon of non-iodized salt and a pinch of baking soda. And be sure to clean all equipment and make a fresh batch of solution each time you use your kit.
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When To Talk With A Doctor
Recurring headaches and suspected acute sinusitis should always be evaluated by a doctor. Experts believe that most people who self-diagnose sinusitis are actually experiencing migraines. Getting the correct diagnosis is crucial to successful treatment.
Sinus pain and pressure that doesnt improve after 7 days despite treatment could mean that youre being treated for the wrong condition, especially if you dont experience other sinus symptoms.
You should also see your doctor if your headaches are accompanied by symptoms typically experienced with migraine attacks.
You dont have to be experiencing sharp head pain in order to have a migraine. Accompanying nausea, vision changes, and light sensitivity could mean you have a migraine, and not a sinus headache.
For migraine treatment, you can start with your primary care physician, and if needed you may be referred to a headache specialist, possibly a neurologist or ear, nose, and throat doctor.
Get The Right Treatment
The result is the same: Your head hurts. Does it really matter why? Yes, because the diagnosis directs the treatment.
For a sinus headache, the focus is on draining the fluid from the mucus-filled spaces behind your cheeks to relieve the pressure and pain, as well as cooling the inflammation. Typically, you’ll take , antihistamines, or antibiotics, or a combination of these medicines. This wouldn’t help, and may even be harmful, for someone with a migraine.
Scientists think migraines happen because of a series of changes in your brain stem, nerve cells, and brain chemicals. No one knows exactly why they start, but they can be triggered by certain foods, activities, or other conditions.
Treatment for migraine can include over-the-counter pain relievers as well as prescription drugs that are also used to treat seizure disorders, depression, and heart conditions. Other remedies might come as pills, shots, and nasal sprays.
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