Your Sinus Headache May Not Be What You Think
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Nearly everyone experiences a headache at some point, and the pain can range from mild to debilitating.
Sometimes, headaches are accompanied by pain and pressure in your brow and forehead, and cause nasal symptoms. Many people associate sinus and nasal symptoms with a sinus infection, also called sinusitis, or with an upper respiratory infection, a cold. They may say that they are experiencing a sinus headache. But sinus and nasal symptoms often can signal something else: a migraine headache.
The term “sinus headache” is not an actual medical diagnosis. Studies show that 90% of people with symptoms of a sinus headache are experiencing migraine headaches.
Sinusitis or migraine?
Migraines and headaches from sinusitis are easy to confuse because the signs and symptoms of the two types of headaches may overlap. Also, migraine headaches affect people differently and symptoms can change over time. This is why many who have had migraine headaches in the past are surprised when they begin having sinus and nasal symptoms with a migraine headache.
Sinusitis, however, usually isn’t associated with nausea or vomiting, nor is it aggravated by noise or bright light all common features of migraines.
These are a few ways you can tell whether your sinus and nasal symptoms are part of a sinus infection or part of a migraine headache:
- Confusion or trouble understanding speech
Differentiate Between Sinus Headache And Migraine Headache
Many people who assume they are having sinus pain due to sinus pressure are actually having a migraine headache. Migraine pain can involve the same nerves as the sinus cavities and is frequently accompanied by nasal congestion, nausea, and aggravation by bright light. “If sinus pain is caused by a migraine, the best natural treatment is lying down in a dark, quiet room,” advises Das.
How To Prevent Sinusitis
- Drink a lot, whether it is water or juice. More than two liters a day, especially if the symptoms continue.
- Avoid dust or smoke pollutionbecause this further irritates the nasal cavity.
- I prefer humid places, and To wet the room, you can place water or use special equipment.
- Wet your nose with compresses of hot water. Showers are also recommended because the steam helps release the nasal sinuses.
- Do not use too many inhalers because, in the long run, they will be counterproductive.
- Clean your nose well. You can find some products containing water and salt in the pharmacy.
Tips To Clear Sinuses
To begin with, you should know that there is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of all these remedies. For this reason, its best to consult your doctor first before using them.
Its not necessary to use antibiotics to treat most cases of sinusitis. In fact, antibiotics should only be used when prescribed by a professional. Fortunately, the symptoms of most sinus problems usually improve within a few days. In the meantime, these remedies can be applied to help relieve pain and pressure.
Tips To Help You Get Relief From Your Head Cold
Oh, your aching head! If youâre suffering from unbearable nasal congestion and headache, you probably have a head cold. The reason youâre so stuffed up? When you have a head cold, the membranes lining your nasal passages become swollen and produce excess mucus to flush out whatever is causing the irritation, whether itâs a virus or an allergen. You might experience pain in your forehead, under your eyes or in your upper teeth.
The key to getting rid of a head cold is to reduce sinus swelling and help mucus drain from your sinuses. Although it might seem counterintuitive, keeping your nasal passages moist is the best way to clear out congestionâdry sinuses will only result in further irritation.
Try these simple tips to clear up a head cold and help relieve headache and sinus pressure.
Since breathing in dry air will dry out your sinuses, itâs best to add moisture back into your environment by using a cool-mist humidifier or steam vaporizer. You can also try breathing in steam from a hot shower. Doing so can help soothe the irritated membranes lining your nasal passages.
A great way to ease a headache and sinus pressure is to place a warm compress on your forehead and nose. If you donât have a compress, try moistening a washcloth with warm water and applying it to your face several times a day. This will help relieve nasal congestion and relieve your head cold symptoms.
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Use Decongestants But Only Temporarily
You can definitely pop some Sudafed tablets or even spritz some Afrin into your nose, but beware: you cant do this forever.
In an acute infection, a decongestant can be useful, but Afrin can become addicting if used for more than a few days and oral decongestants used regularly can have cardiovascular effects, says Dr. Thompson. These are targeted for short-term use.
Also, FYI, patients with high blood pressure shouldnt use these OTC products, and people who are sensitive to stimulants, like caffeine, might have trouble sleeping when using them, per Dr. Takashima.
Treatment For Sinusitis From A Gp
If you have sinusitis, a GP may be able to recommend other medicines to help with your symptoms, such as:
- steroid nasal sprays or drops Ã¢ to reduce the swelling in your sinuses
- antihistamines Ã¢ if an allergy is causing your symptoms
- antibiotics Ã¢ if a bacterial infection is causing your symptoms and youâre very unwell or at risk of complications
You might need to take steroid nasal sprays or drops for a few months. They sometimes cause irritation, sore throats or nosebleeds.
A GP may refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist if, for example, you:
- still have sinusitis after 3 months of treatment
- keep getting sinusitis
- only have symptoms on 1 side of your face
They may also recommend surgery in some cases.
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What Are The Sinuses And What Do They Look Like
Sinuses of the face are cavities or spaces within the bones that help humidify the air and secrete mucus to help with air filtration. Additionally, they contribute to the strength of the skull and its ability to resist trauma. The sinus cavities also allow more resonance to be added to the voice.
The sinuses are often referred to as the paranasal sinuses because of their location and connection to the back of the nose. The sinuses develop as air sacs within the bones of the skull, which are named by their location.
- Frontal sinus: located above the eyes within the frontal bone of the skull
- Maxillary sinus: located beneath the eyes under the cheekbones within the maxilla bone of the face
- Ethmoid sinus: located in the ethmoid bone separating the eyes from the nose
- Sphenoid sinus: located in the sphenoid bone at the base of the skull
While infants do have sinuses, they are very poorly developed. The maxillary sinuses cannot be seen on an X-ray until 1 to 2 years of age and the frontal sinuses are not seen until age 5 or 6.
When Should I See An Ent For Sinus Pain And Pressure
A good rule of thumb is to talk to your doctor if sinus pain and pressure is affecting your daily life. Other things to look out for include:
- It makes it difficult to sleep
- Youve had a stuffy or runny nose for over a week
- Your sinus headaches more frequently
- Over-the-counter treatments dont work
- You injured your nose
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Home Remedies For Unblocking Your Sinus
Home remedies are excellent options for unblocking sinus if the mentioned technique doesnt instantly work for you. They spare your bloodstream from antihistamine and antibiotics often prescribed by the doctor.
Here are four equally effective home remedies with recipes to relief sinus pain pan.
Turmeric is simply a wonder herb that has a lot of health benefits including treating nasal congestion. How does it work? Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties. Sprinkle some on your meals so as to help ease nasal inflammation which is the major cause of blocked sinuses.
You can clear your sinus in a day or two with apple cider vinegar. Take a tablespoon of honey and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and mix well with eight ounces of water. You can also take a tablespoon of the organic apple cider continuously for three days.
Although nasal saline rinse is not the most comfortable remedy, it is still one of the popular means of clearing sinuses.
Mix one cup of clean warm water and a quarter teaspoon of pickling or sea salt. Pour the mixture through one nostril and let it flow through the other. It is advisable to seek assistance on how to perform nasal rinse if you are attempting for the first time.
5. A Sinus Cleaning Device :
How To Differentiate Between A Sinus Headache And A Migraine
Sinus headaches are accompanied by fever and thick, discolored nasal discharge. If your head or other parts of your face hurt but you dont have fever or congestion, and your nasal discharge is clear, its probably a migraine headache. Migraines are often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to sound and light.
Read Also: Why Do I Get Sinus Infections So Often
Middle And External Ear Infections
A middle ear infection can cause ear congestion, as well as dizziness, ear pain, and occasionally fluid drainage. Theyre usually caused by colds or other respiratory problems that travel to the middle ear through the Eustachian tube.
External ear infections, also known as swimmers ear, are usually caused by water that remains in your ear after swimming or bathing, providing an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. You may experience pain, itching, redness, and clear fluid drainage or a discharge of pus.
Ear infections often resolve without treatment. Over-the-counter ear drops and pain medication can help relieve your symptoms. If your symptoms are severe or last more than two days, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
Avoid Anything That Worsens The Infection
There are lots of habits that keep your health better. But some habits can make the situation worse. If you are a smoker, the smoke of nicotine triggers the sinus infection.
Another factor is consuming alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates your body significantly. Dehydration only makes the symptoms of the infection more intense. If you want to get rid of a sinus infection fast, you have to avoid these factors.
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Check If You Have Sinusitis
Symptoms of sinusitis include:
- pain, swelling and tenderness around your cheeks, eyes or forehead
- a reduced sense of smell
- green or yellow mucus from your nose
- a sinus headache
Signs of sinusitis in young children may also include irritability, difficulty feeding, and breathing through their mouth.
The sinuses are small, empty spaces behind your cheekbones and forehead that connect to the inside of the nose.
Sinusitis causes the lining of the sinuses to swell up.
This stops mucus draining into your nose and throat properly, making you feel blocked up.
Natural Remedies For Chronic Sinus Infections
Natural remedies for sinus infections may not fully cure your symptoms, but they can work to reduce them. Examples of these approaches include:
- Drinking plenty of fluids.Fluids help to thin out mucus, which makes it easier to pass through your sinus passages. You know youre drinking enough when your urine is pale yellow.
- Applying warm compresses. Create a warm compress using a soft washcloth and warm water. These compresses help to open your sinus passages and soothe swollen facial tissues to make breathing easier.
- Using a neti pot. A neti pot is an alternative to saline nose sprays. You can buy these at most drugstores and online. They look like a small tea pot with an elongated spout. You fill the pot with sterile water, insert it into one nostril, and pour in the water so it comes out the other nostril. Here are step-by-step instructions.
In addition to these measures, its important to get plenty of rest. Getting enough sleep at night enables your body time to heal and maintain a healthy immune system.
Taking steps to keep your nasal passages draining well can help you avoid sinus infections. Examples of healthy habits to practice include:
You can also ask your doctor for additional prevention recommendations that target the cause of your sinus infection.
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How To Prevent A Sinus Headache
Once you learn whats causing your headache, you can take the steps to prevent them in the future. If the inflammation comes because you have allergies, then identifying what you are allergic to and implementing reduction strategies can be helpful, Dr. Epstein states.
Related: Should I Get Tested for Allergies?
First, avoid environmental triggers. Since seasonal allergies are a common cause of sinus headaches, its wise to limit your time outdoorsat least until your symptoms start improving.
Avoid irritants such as strong perfumes/colognes and smoke that trigger inflammation of nasal mucosa and secretion of mucus, says Dr. Nicole Aaronson, MD, pediatric otolaryngologist. Keep the nasal passages moist with nasal saline spray and/or a humidifier. If there are underlying allergies, treat the allergies or avoid allergens when possible. Maintain good hydration to prevent nasal congestion.
To minimize the chances of getting a headache in the midst of allergy or cold season, Dr. Stephenson recommends avoiding the following:
- Vacuuming daily during allergy season to minimize indoor allergens.
- Change bed sheets every few days, to minimize allergens.
- Use an indoor air purifier and clean the filter regularly.
- Avoid alcohol when congested, which can trigger more pressure.
- Avoid flying, as that can also increase sinus pressure and trigger a headache.
- Use a humidifier at night, but keep it squeaky-clean, to avoid mold.
- When you have a cold, use a neti pot daily.
Ways To Clear Up Sinus Congestion
You dont have to keep living with the symptoms of a sinus infection. Here are eight smart tips from both experts and readers thatll help get you breathing easier in no time.
Sinus congestion may make you feel miserable, but managing it can be easy if you find the right treatment, that is. First, it helps to figure out whats triggering the congestion. You can treat the symptoms, but you are going to be chasing your tail if you dont know whats causing them, says Ian Alexander, MD, an otolaryngologist and founder of the National Sinus Institute, which has clinics in New Mexico and Texas. Common causes include allergies and infections, but your congestion could also be caused by structural problems with your nose and sinuses. Here are some short- and long-term solutions that can help ease congestion and relieve sinusitis symptoms.
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What Causes Chronic Sinus Infection
Multiple factors acting together usually contribute to chronic sinusitis.
People with allergies are more prone to develop chronic sinusitis. About one in five people with chronic sinusitis also have asthma. This is because the linings of your nose and sinuses are in continuation with the linings of your lungs. These people are also likely to have nasal polyps .
A bacterial or viral infection can also trigger the condition. The infection is often low grade. The bacteria confine themselves in stubborn biofilms, making it difficult for your immune system or antibiotics to find and attack them.
An overlap of additional factors such as smoking, environmental pollutants, and deviated septum, further complicate the picture of chronic sinusitis.
It would be more appropriate to say that if youre already prone to allergies and nasal polyps, it becomes easier for harmful bugs, especially fungi to penetrate your sinuses. Likewise, a weak immune system makes you more susceptible to catch bacterial, viral, or fungal sinus infection.
A sinus that is inflamed and swollen can no longer sweep away the excess mucus and harmful agents due to the blockage of tiny hairs that facilitate this function.
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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.
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What Does Sinus Pressure Feel Like
Pain or pressure is felt not just in your head, but anywhere in the sinus area. Where you feel pain depends on which sinuses are affected.
While pressure is most common behind and around the eyes, nose, and cheeks, it can extend forward to the teeth and backward to the back of the head. These areas will often be sensitive to touch.
Sometimes sinus headache can also give you a feeling of fatigue or aching in your top jaw. Redness and swelling of the cheeks, nose, or forehead can occur.
Treatment Options For Sinus Headaches
Inflamed sinuses are commonly the cause of these sinus headaches. To find the right treatment, it is important to diagnose whats causing the inflammation does it result from allergies, an infection, or other issues?
Antihistamines and Decongestants
If you are experiencing allergies, you may be prescribed antihistamines and/or a decongestant to resolve the issue.
Simple, traditional home remedies can ease the pain by reducing the inflammation and unblocking your nose. Drinking plenty of water, using a dehumidifier, or applying a warm towel to your face can provide relief for a sinus headache.
A bacterial infection is a more severe case of sinusitis, and this may require antibiotics. We work with families in Alpharetta, Cumming, Duluth, Roswell, Johns Creek and beyond to find a sinus headache treatment solution that works best.
While surgery is a less common solution, there are instances where it could be the best option. Recurring sinus problems and issues with drainage may require a simple surgical procedure to repair sinus tissue.
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