Sinus Pain Has A Variety Of Causes
If your head is throbbing and you feel pressure around your eyes, cheeks, or forehead, you could have a sinus headache. Many factors can cause a sinus headache, says Subinoy Das, MD, chief executive officer and interim medical director for the U.S. Institute for Advanced Sinus Care and Research in Columbus, Ohio. The most important factor is swelling of the lining of the nose and sinuses, causing pressure and pain on in the face and head.
Symptoms of sinus pain and headache include pain associated with congestion from a common cold or allergies pain around your eyes, forehead, or over your teeth pain that is worse in the morning and pain that gets worse when you bend over. Some of the more natural methods of relieving sinus pain that reduce swelling, thin mucus secretions, and improve sinus drainage are often very helpful.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Sinus Headaches
Patients with migraines or tension headaches commonly have sinus and nasal symptoms during their headaches, including sinus pressure, sinus pain, nasal congestion or runny nose. Studies of patients who have self-diagnosed or been diagnosed with sinus headaches were found to have migraines or tension headaches in more than 80 percent of cases only three to five percent of these patients had sinusitis.
Symptoms of sinusitis and migraine headaches can be similar, which can be confusing about what is causing sinus pain and pressure. Migraines and headaches can cause the following nasal symptoms:
- Pain and pressure around the eyes, across the cheeks, and the forehead
- Nasal congestion
- Eye redness, tearing, or eyelid swelling
- Symptoms on one or both sides of the face
Sinusitis is associated with nasal congestion or obstruction and a thick nasal discharge, sometimes with facial pain, pressure, or a feeling of fullness. However, facial pain or pressure or fullness without cloudy or colored nasal discharge is most likely not a sinus infection.
Key Differentiators Between Migraines And Sinus Headaches
So, how can you tell whats causing your headache? If youre struggling to identify whether your headache is a migraine or is caused by sinus pressure, the best thing you can do is to seek medical counsel.
However, the two clearest differences are the location of the headache and whether or not youre congested. If you experience the headache pain primarily on one side of your head, you may be more likely to have a migraine.
If youre not congested and have an extremely painful headache, you likely have a migraine. If you are congested and have an extremely painful headache, you may have either a migraine OR a sinus headache.
Another potential indicator is the color of your mucus. Is it clear? If so, you most likely have a migraine. Is it yellowish? If so, your headache is likely caused by sinus pressure.
To learn more about the differences between sinus headaches and migraines, check out our article: How Do I Know if I Have a Sinus Headache?
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Know The Limits Of Natural Sinus Pain Relief
You should not try to self-treat your sinus pain if you have symptoms such as as yellow or green mucus discharge persistent fever or stiff neck pain for more than 24 hours confusion, weakness, numbness, or tingling and persistent nausea or vomiting. These symptoms could be a sign of a significant infection in your sinuses that might need antibiotics. Using natural sinus pain relief is fine if you have mild chronic pain or a headache related to a common cold or an allergy, but if you have severe pain that is not responding to these techniques, you need to see your doctor, advises Das.
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What You Should Do If You Have Been Waking Up With A Headache:
- See your doctor for help if youre blood pressure is high, your blood sugar is low or high, or you snore and think you may have sleep apnea.
- Work on getting in a regular sleep routine. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, getting at least 7 hours of sleep.
- Try sleeping in a different position. Also, there are pillows made specifically for stomach sleepers, side sleepers, etc., so make sure you have the correct one.
- Relax Stress is a common cause for waking up with tension headaches. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and massage therapy can help to relieve stress.
- Cut down on caffeine. Just be aware that if you quit caffeine cold turkey, you may have temporary headaches from withdrawal.
- If youre a teeth grinder, try a night guard to help prevent clenching. If youre unsure whether you grind your teeth or not, it could be a possibility so talk with your doctor.
- Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated throughout the day can help. Dont drinking too much water before bedtime so you can sleep through the night without waking up for bathroom breaks.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking.
- Avoid chemicals or perfume that could possibly trigger your headaches.
- If you think it may be sinus or allergy related, try a Its a good idea to speak with your doctor before starting a new medication.
- Avoid certain foods. According to the National Headache Foundation, there are foods that may trigger headaches. These foods include:
Can Sinus Pressure Cause A Migraine
Sinus headaches and migraines have many symptoms in common, but theyre not the same type of headache. Once the underlying sinus issue is resolved, sinus headaches should go away. But with migraines, ongoing medication may be needed to help prevent them from recurring.
Sinus pressure may be somewhat linked to migraines, however. If you have allergic rhinitis, your nasal passages can become inflamed and irritated in response to an allergen. Its thought that the histamine release that occurs as part of the allergic reaction can cause migraines. In fact, people who have allergic rhinitis are more than 10 times more likely to suffer from migraines.
Throat Irritation And Cough
As discharge from your sinuses drains down the back of your throat, it can cause irritation, especially over a long period of time. This can lead to a persistent and annoying cough, which can be worse when lying down to sleep or first thing in the morning after getting up from bed.
It can also make sleeping difficult. Sleeping upright or with your head elevated can help reduce the frequency and intensity of your coughing.
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What Else Does Nasal Breathing Do
One of the most important ways that nasal breathing helps oxygen flow is via a gas called nitric oxide. The role of nitric oxide in the body and respiration was only recently identified.
Nitric oxide is produced in the nasal sinuses by specific enzymes. Its instrumental in delivering oxygen around the body efficiently because it regulates blood flow. When it mixes with air delivered to the lung, it increases arterial oxygen tension and reduces blood pressure.
Nitric oxide also has a vital role deep within your bodys cells and is produced elsewhere in the body but the biggest contributor is the minute amounts inhaled through the nose into the lungs.
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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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Tension Headache Vs Migraine Vs Sinus Headache
People who self-diagnose their sinus headache often misdiagnose them. Its very common for a migraine sufferer to diagnose him or herself as having sinus headaches. Sometimes, people who suffer from tension headaches misdiagnose them as sinus headaches. Since there are some similarities between each type of headache, getting an official diagnosis from a doctor is an essential step before beginning a treatment program.
If you are unsure whether youre suffering from migraines, tension headaches or sinus headaches, there are some key differences between each. For example, although people who suffer from migraines often experience an increase in discomfort and pain due to pressure shifts and movement, they also tend to have feelings of nausea and sensitivity to sound and light. Sinus headache sufferers dont often feel nauseated and arent sensitive to light or sound. Additionally, migraine sufferers dont often have the cold-like symptoms accompanying their headaches.
The pain associated with tension headaches usually starts at the back of the head. It moves up over the head, until it feels as though a person has a tight band around their skull thats putting a lot of pressure on their head. Along with head pain, people suffering from tension headaches also often have pain in their shoulders, back and neck.
How Is Sinus Headache Prevented
If you have reoccurring headaches as a symptom of sinusitis or seasonal allergies, you may need to consider prescription medication to manage the condition.
Lifestyle changes to reduce congestion, like avoiding allergens and incorporating aerobic exercise into your routine, might decrease how many headaches you get.
In cases of chronic sinusitis, a nasal surgery like a balloon sinuplasty might be the only way to stop getting more sinus headaches.
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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.
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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Sinus Pressure Without Congestion
Sinus pressure is a common condition, especially in cold months when the dry air can irritate your sinuses. Sinus pressure can present through a variety of symptoms, many of which overlap with symptoms of migraine headaches. How can you tell when your symptoms indicate a sinus issue, and what’s the fastest way to find relief?
Sinus Headaches Are Rare
Its important to note that sinus headaches are in fact extremely rare most people who have sinus headaches actually have migraine headaches, says Dr. Gottschalk.
In fact, the American Academy of OtolaryngologyHead and Neck Surgery Foundation notes that over 80% of people who have self-diagnosed themselves or received a formal diagnosis of sinus headache actually have a migraine headache or tension headache only around 3% to 5% of people diagnosed with sinus headaches actually have sinus headaches.
This happens because some of the symptoms of migraine headaches are very similar to the symptoms of sinus headaches. Migraine headaches can trigger the parasympathetic nerves that control the mucosa in the sinuses, resulting in symptoms such as congestion, runny nose, redness or swelling around the eyes, and pressure in the sinus area, says Dr. Gottschalk.
For this reason, migraine attacks that include these symptoms are often mislabeled as sinus headaches, because it is believed that the sinus irritation is the cause of the pain however, the sinus symptoms are caused by the migraine process itself, explains Dr. Gottschalk.
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Sinus Headache Vs Migraine
According to the American Migraine Foundation, 50 percent of migraine misdiagnoses start with a person thinking they have sinus headache. Up to 90 percent of people who go to the doctor for sinus headache find out they have migraine instead.
People with migraine may develop symptoms similar to sinusitis, like a runny nose or congestion. Migraine headaches also cause pain along the trigeminal nerve, which interacts with the sinus passages. People experiencing migraine may think this pain is related to the sinuses.
If you dont have any of the symptoms that come specifically with a sinus headache, you may be experiencing a migraine. Migraine is treated differently from sinus headache. Symptoms specific to migraine include:
- sensitivity to light and sound
If youre experiencing symptoms specific to migraine, youre likely experiencing a migraine attack and not a sinus headache.
Sinusitis directly causes sinus headaches, so they share the same causes and triggers. These include:
- Viral infection. This is the most common cause of sinusitis and sinus headache. About
What Causes A Sinus Headache
The most common cause of a sinus headache is sinusitisa condition in which allergies cause the sinus to become inflamed.
Its also possible that sinus headaches can be triggered by a regular sinus infection or sinus blockage.
Seasonal allergies that last longer than can be expected, also known as hay fever, may also cause a sinus headache.
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Runny Nose And Postnasal Drip
When you have a sinus infection, you may need to blow your nose often because of nasal discharge, which can be cloudy, green, or yellow. This discharge comes from your infected sinuses and drains into your nasal passages.
The discharge may also bypass your nose and drain down the back of your throat. You may feel a tickle, an itch, or even a sore throat.
What Are The Complications Of Sinus Headache
In rare cases, complications around the eye area can happen, resulting in the area being swollen and inflamed. This may even affect your vision.
If you have a high fever that persists, discolored nasal discharge, rattling in your chest, or difficulty breathing, see your doctor about these symptoms. While a sinus headache might seem like a harmless health condition, its important to determine its cause.
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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.
Ways To Relieve Sinus Headache Pain And Pressure
When you have a sinus headache, all you want is relieffast!
As the makers of BC® Sinus Pain & Congestion , were going to tell you to take our powder formula for fast relief. It can help you quickly relieve the sinus headache, congestion and pressure that can come with allergies, a cold, sinus infection or the flu.
But we also want to give you other optionssimple things you can do at home to help relieve sinus congestion and pain.
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Remedies And Treatments For Sinus Infection Pain
There are several effective home remedies and treatments for sinus infection pain. Many remedies are available over the counter at a low cost.
Common sinus infection treatments include:
If your sinuses are blocked, it can help to moisten your sinus cavities by inhaling steam. Doing so loosens the blocked mucus and allows it to drain. Try draping a towel over your head as you breathe in the vapor from a bowl of hot water. Alternatively, you can take a hot shower or bath, breathing in the warm, moist air.
This home remedy, called nasal lavage, can help clear your sinuses. Nasal irrigation can clear sinus drainage from the nose to make it easier to breathe. It also thins the mucus in your nose, reduces inflammation, and washes away irritants in the nasal passages.
Saline rinses require sterile water, which can be either boiled or purchased. To avoid introducing additional bacteria to the nasal passages, keep your Neti Pot clean between uses.
Nasal Corticosteroid Sprays
Nasal corticosteroid sprays help prevent and treat inflammation and excess mucus in the nasal passages. They also treat polyps .
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs
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