What Is A Sinus Headache
A sinus headache is the result of inflammation and a buildup of pressure within the sinuses of the skull.
The sinuses are cavities or pockets located within the bones of the skull. In addition to contributing to the strength and stability of the skull, the sinuses help to humidify and filter the air.
Avoid Sinus Pain Triggers
“One of the most important things to avoid is over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays. They may give some fast relief, but after a few days they make sinus pressure and nasal congestion much worse,” warns Das. Some other things you can do to prevent sinus pain include avoiding alcohol, which can aggravate sinus pain and congestion cleaning your humidifier to avoid fungal allergies washing your bedding in hot water to decrease allergy exposure and avoiding swimming, diving, or flying when you have sinusitis, a common cold, or nasal allergy.
Sinus Massage Techniques That Reduce Congestion
The paranasal sinuses are small, air-filled spaces in your skull. They help filter and moisten the air you breathe and lighten the weight of the skull. The paranasal sinuses also help produce the sound of your voice and provide support for your face and eyes.
Whenever youre sick, the sinuses become obstructed with mucus. This blockage causes congestion and can lead to intense pressure and headaches. While there are nasal sprays and medications to treat symptoms, some simple massage techniques at home can provide you with relief.
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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.
How To Relieve A Tension Headache
Because tension headaches have various causes, its a good idea to keep a journal and log any instances to try and ID your triggers. If you can determine what sets off the pain , then you can do your best to avoid that particular trigger. That said, the following tips can all help you find eventual relief:
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Symptoms Of Sinus Pain And Pressure
When you experience sinus pain and pressure, there are likely other symptoms that come along with it. If your discomfort is being caused by a sinus infection or allergies you may also experience related symptoms like exhaustion, sore throat, and headache.
Common signs and symptoms of a sinus infection include:
Natural Remedies For Sinus Headaches
The throbbing in your temples, like the banging of a drum. The pressure behind your eyes, your head, and even your cheekbones. Aching even in your teeth. And lets not forget the tightness in the back of your neck that sometimes extends into your shoulders.
Ah yes, it is another full-blown sinus headache.
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Drink A Large Glass Of Water
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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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.
Do Weekly Massage Sessions
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Cleaning The Nose With Salt Water
A 2019 review found some indication that saltwater solutions can treat sinusitis. However, the researchers state that there was not enough evidence to confirm it helps or the best delivery method.
People can purchase nasal rinsing kits with premixed saltwater solutions. Alternatively, they can make the solution at home. To do this:
People should dispose of any leftover salt water, and make a fresh solution if using this technique repeatedly. A person should also clean any nasal irrigation devices thoroughly after each use. People should not use nasal rinses in children unless instructed by a doctor.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Sinus Headache
Sinus headaches often cause the following symptoms:
- Pressure and pain in your face or head
- Pain that gets worse when you bend over, move suddenly, or lie down
- Pain thats worse in the morning
- Pain that gets worse when youre exposed to sudden temperature changes
- Swelling in your face
- Pain in your upper teeth
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Give Yourself A Massage
Gently targeting the muscles in your scalp, temples, or bottom of your neck can help relieve the tension that spurred your headache, Dr. Mikhael says.
You can also target your masseter musclethe thick muscle that connects your jawbone and cheekboneif you tend to clench, grind, or generally hold tension in your face. When your jaw becomes too tight, it can cause other nearby muscles in your head and neck to do the same. When the force is too great you can get tension headaches, David Reavy, a Chicago-based physical therapist, previously told Prevention.
Try this 10-second masseter massage from Reavy a few times a day:
- Place the pads of your fingers or knuckles at the masseter muscle.
- Then, open your jaw as much as you can.
- Close your mouth and repeat until you feel the muscle release.
How To Relieve Sinus Pressure
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Many people experience sinus pressure from seasonal allergies or the common cold. Sinus pressure results from blocked nasal passages. When your sinuses cannot drain, you may experience inflammation and pain in your head, nose, and face.
Your sinuses are paired in two, and are found in four main areas of the face:
While some over-the-counter treatments can help reduce symptoms, there are also many effective natural remedies.
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Treat Sinus Pain With Humidity
“Dry, thick mucus in your nose and sinus passages can form crusts that block sinus drainage and trap viruses and other particles. Increasing humidity and getting more fluid into your body can help your mucus thin out and get moving again,” says Dr. Das. Some natural ways to get your sinuses draining and relieve sinus pressure include drinking plenty of fluids using a humidifier avoiding cold, dry air taking plenty of steamy showers and drinking a cup of hot tea or soup.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep has been proven to bolster the T cells in your body that fight off infection, says Dr. Nasseri. Bonus tip: To minimize congestion, adjust your sleep position. Use an extra pillow to prop up your head. Keeping your head elevated while you sleep can help drain mucus and relieve some of the pressure.
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Add In Some Peppermint Oil While Youre At It
Cliganic Organic Peppermint Essential Oil
Cliganic Organic Peppermint Essential Oil
Because peppermint oil causes a cooling sensation, it can feel really good on tense muscles. Research backs up its benefits, too: One older but often-cited study found that applying a 10% peppermint oil solution to the temples actually has pain-relieving properties similar to Tylenol. Newer research has led to similar results.
Sara Crystal, M.D., a neurologist, headache specialist, and medical advisor at Cove, previously spoke with Prevention and offered this peppermint oil massage:
- Dilute a few drops of the peppermint essential oil into another oil carrier, like coconut oil.
- Massage the oil into the temples and forehead, working in circular motions with the index and middle fingers.
- Continue for one minute.
Chronic Sinusitis And Sinus Headaches
Sinusitis happens when the sinuses or cavities around the nasal passages become swollen. The sinuses can become inflamed if you have an infection or because of an allergic reaction. The symptoms usually go away within a couple of weeks, but some people experience longer or recurring sinus infections. If you have chronic sinusitis, you could be dealing with symptoms such as nasal discharge, congestion, and pain or sinus headaches for many months.
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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 â to reduce the swelling in your sinuses
- antihistamines â if an allergy is causing your symptoms
- antibiotics â if a bacterial infection is causing your symptoms and you’re 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.
What Causes Sinus Headaches
Sinus infections cause sinus headaches. Anything that makes mucus buildup in the sinuses can lead to a sinus infection, such as:
- The common cold is most often to blame.
- Seasonal allergies trigger mucus production.
- Nasal polyps, abnormal growths in the nose or sinuses. Nasal polyps can block mucus from draining.
- Deviated septum, which is when the line of cartilage and bone down the center of the nose isnt straight. A deviated septum can prevent mucus from properly draining.
Too much mucus gives germs an opportunity to grow. As germs build up, they irritate the sinuses. In response, sinus tissue swells, blocking the passage of mucus. Swollen, irritated sinuses filled with liquid make your face feel tender and achy.
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Pop Some Otc Pain Medications
This is a popular approach for quick relief. Aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen can all help reduce tension headache pain, says Medhat Mikhael, M.D., pain management specialist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif.
Always follow dosage instructions, and never take pain medications for more than three days per week regularly, as this can actually cause rebound headacheswhich may feel even worse.
What Are The Best Sinus Headache Treatments
If youre suffering from headaches, they could have several different causes, including congestion in your sinuses. You may feel pain and pressure in your face due to sinusitis , and the first step toward effective treatment is an accurate diagnosis.
In this blog, board-certified ear, nose, and throat specialist Dr. Cecil Yeung will explain more about these types of headaches as well as sinus headache treatment.
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What To Do When Home Remedies Aren’t Working
When you have a sinus headache, trying some treatments at home should be your first step. However, if you’ve tried a few things and nothing is helping, seeing a doctor can help you to get the right treatment and perhaps identify an underlying cause. You should also see a doctor if you have a fever, if there is pain or swelling of your face or eyes, redness around your eyes, cheeks, a severe headache, stiff neck or confusion.
After other treatments have been exhausted and your sinus problems are recurring, surgery might be suggested as an option for sinus headaches and blocked sinuses. This is something that you might discuss with your ENT to determine whether it’s the right choice for you and how it can help, as well as some of the risks that surgery can have. Before discussing surgery, it’s important to try other remedies to find out if any of them work.
If sinus headaches are a regular problem for you, Mountain Ear, Nose & Throat Associates can help. Contact us today at Sylva 828-586-7474, Franklin 828-524-5599, Murphy 828-835-1014 or New Asheville 828-458-8100 to schedule an appointment or learn more.
Pressure Points To Drain Sinuses
In addition to manual massages, you can also access sinus pressure points using a technique called acupressure. This ancient healing technique originated in China and uses the same principles as acupuncture except you use your fingers to trigger the pressure points instead of needles.
Here are some pressure points to trigger to help relieve sinus pain and congestion. Simply press and gently massage these areas for several minutes or until you feel relief.
- Acupresssure Point BL2: Located where your eyebrow meets your nose, this pressure point can help relieve frontal headaches.
- Acupresssure Point GB20: Located at the back of your head where the skull meets neck muscles, this pressure point can relieve midline headaches.
- Acupresssure Point L3: Located on your foot between the tendons of your big toe and second toe, this pressure point can help with headaches.
- Acupresssure Point LI4: Located on your hand between the thumb and index finger, this pressure point can help relieve sinus congestion.
- Acupresssure Point LI 20: Located at the base of your nose, this pressure point can help relieve sinus pressure.
- Acupresssure Point SI18: Located where your cheekbones meet your nose, this pressure point can relieve sinus congestion.
While at-home remedies can provide relief from mild sinus infections and sinus-related congestion, you should see an otolaryngologist for more chronic symptoms. To learn more about what these specialists do, visit our blog on ENTs.
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Medical Interventions For Chronic Sinus Infections
When the sinus infection keeps coming back, then one of the best things you can do is talk to an ENT for a personalized treatment plan. Once the doctor identifies the root cause, then its easier to treat the infection and prevent recurrences in the future.
- Nasal Spray: Your doctor might recommend the use of a corticosteroid nasal spray. This medication provides immediate relief from nasal inflammation, which helps the sinuses to drain and heal.
- Oral Steroids: Sometimes it makes sense to use oral steroids instead of a sinus spray.
- Antibiotics: Its important to determine whether the sinus infections are caused by bacteria before using antibiotics as a treatment. While antibiotics are more common for acute infections, there are also times when antibiotics can be helpful for chronic sinus infections as well.
- Depending on the underlying cause, decongestants can be helpful for treating and preventing sinus infections. These medications thin and clear out the nasal congestion, which can be necessary for supporting the natural healing process.
- Surgery: If you are using minimally invasive treatments without success, then your ENT might recommend a more intensive treatment. For example, surgery can be an effective solution for opening the drainage pathways and correcting any physical issues that are affecting your sinuses .