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How To Know You Have A Sinus Headache

Prevention And Treatment Of Sinus Headaches

Headache Treatments : How to Tell if You Have a Sinus Headache

The best way to prevent a sinus headache is to avoid a sinus infection. The CDC recommends washing your hands frequently, getting a flu shot, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, not smoking, and using a clean humidifier to moisten the air.

By humidifying the air, you can decrease sinus pressure, which should translate into decreased incidence of headaches, says Kiran Rajneesh, MBBS, a neurologist and pain medicine specialist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.

Dr. Rajneesh also suggests drinking a lot of water. Hydrating is important because it can help keep the mucus thin and loose, which can decrease infection and irritation, he says.

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve a sinus headache. A nasal spray either a decongestant or a steroid spray may help as well, according to Michigan Medicine. Keep in mind that overuse of nasal sprays can further irritate the sinuses, leading to what is known as rebound congestion.

If you have a history of high blood pressure or heart problems, talk to your doctor before using oral decongestants .

A neti pot, which looks like a little teapot with a long spout, may be used to flush out nasal passages to improve congested sinuses, says Rajneesh.

There are times when you should seek medical help for possible sinus infection. According to the CDC, you should see a doctor if any of the following is true:

Additional reporting by Becky Upham.

What Causes Sinus Symptoms

If you find yourself frequently dealing with sinus pain and sinus pressure, finding the cause is an important step toward finding sinus relief. Any time the tissue in your nose and sinuses gets swollen and inflamed, it can lead to sinus problems. Here are a few sinus problem causes to consider:

  • Temperature changes

Diagnosing Acute Frontal Sinusitis

Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and their duration to distinguish between a common cold and acute frontal sinusitis. Your doctor may lightly tap on your frontal sinuses to assess pain and tenderness.

You may also be referred to an ear, nose, and throat doctor . This specialist will check your nasal cavity for signs of polyps and inflammation. They may also take samples of your mucus to look for infection.

Other tests your doctor may use to diagnose acute frontal sinusitis include:

  • nasal endoscopy to look inside your sinus and nasal cavities
  • imaging tests with a CT scan or MRI
  • allergy tests

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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.

Can Sinus Headaches Be Prevented

4 Home Remedies to Quickly Get Rid of Sinus Infections

Sinus headaches are due to inflammation of the sinuses and their ability to drain to the back of the nose.

  • Avoid smoking, secondhand smoke, and other allergens because they may decrease the risk of developing sinusitis and a sinus headache. Smoking reduces the ability of the sinuses to clear mucous and fluid.
  • Avoid colds and other respiratory infections because it may decrease the risk of sinus inflammation, for example, frequent hand washing, and avoiding people who are sick.
  • Flying is not recommended if you have a cold, sinus infection, or an upper respiratory infection because of the pressure changes in the face that occur with flying.
  • Maintaining adequate hydration and breathing humidified air at home and work will allow the normal mucus that is produced in the sinuses to drain more easily.

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What Is The Prognosis For A Sinus Headache

Sinus headaches are short-lived temporary problems associated with colds or hay fever. They recover quickly, once the underlying condition resolves.

Certain people develop chronic sinus inflammation and more long-standing symptoms associated with their sinusitis. Once the underlying condition is identified, preventive measures may be available and future recurrences of the sinus headache may be minimized. If the headache symptoms are not associated with inflammation of the sinuses, the underlying cause needs to be adequately addressed to relieve symptoms.

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How Are Sinus Headaches Treated And Prevented

Once a doctor concludes that you’re suffering from a sinus headache, specifically, treatment options vary. Dr. Namdar says using nasal saline rinses, such as the Neti Pot, can help. He adds, “Some people use anti-inflammatory Flonase.” Additionally, picking up an air purifier for your home can help you if you suffer from sinus headaches, and if a sinus headache is stemming from a bacterial infection, a course of antibiotics can be used to treat the problem.

As for the pain element, which is the real point of this article, Dr. Namdar says patients can take over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen for the headache part of their sinus headaches.

While you can’t necessarily prevent a sinus headache if you have sinusitis, you can do your best to prevent viral infections in the first place. Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly and often is a good start, along with trying not to touch your nose, mouth, and eyes when your hands are unclean. Eating enough vegetables and getting enough sleep can also strengthen your immune system, which means you’re less likely to get sick.

But the main point here: Definitely get to the doctor if you suspect you have a sinus headacheonly a medical professional can diagnose one, or let you know that something else might be going on and recommend the next steps to take in getting that checked out, as well.

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What Does A Sinus Headache Feel Like

Again, because of the placement of your sinuses, “the pain is above the eyes, between the eyes, or over the cheekbones,” says Dr. Namdar. In addition to that pain, patients might also feel “tenderness over the affected sinuses,” says Dr. Bassett. More symptoms of sinus headaches include Additionally, “post-nasal drainage, congestion, discharge, as well as oral, facial or dental pain can occur with an infection, such as sinusitis,” Dr. Bassett adds.

And, interestingly, the severity of a sinus headache might differ depending on the time of day. “Some sufferers suggest their headache may be more significant earlier in the day (perhaps due to collection of mucus from during the nighttime,” says Dr. Bassett.

If you don’t have a runny nose, fever, or bad breath , you’re likely suffering from a migraine rather than a sinus headache, per the American Migraine Foundation.

Sinus Trouble: Consider The Causes

How to Tell if You Have a Sinus Headache

Not only can seasonal allergies or chronic allergies impact the sinuses, but humid air can cause a clogged or stuffy feeling in the nose. An infectioneither brief or long-lastingcan also take hold.

Sinusitis ailments are not only a burden for allergy sufferers, they can be a challenge for doctors, too, especially as patients and doctors alike are on high alert for warning signs of a possible COVID-19 infection. Three of the most common causes of sinus symptoms are allergies, viral infections and bacterial infections. But these can be tough to tell apart because of overlapping symptoms.

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How Long Do Symptoms Last

Typically, a sinus infection clears up within 2 to 3 weeks. COVID-19 lasts for about a week or two depending on its severity and your overall health.

A 2020 study surveyed 270 outpatients with COVID-19. Among them, 175 people reported returning to their usual level of health about 7 days after a positive COVID-19 test.

Some symptoms like cough and loss of smell or taste may linger temporarily after COVID-19. Some people may experience long-haul COVID-19, a group of symptoms that persist in the weeks and months following an infection.

When Do Symptoms First Appear

The symptoms of a sinus infection often come on suddenly. COVID-19 symptoms can develop more gradually 2 to 14 days after exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

A sinus infection can often happen after youve had a common viral illness, such as a cold or the flu. If your symptoms develop after youve already been sick, you may have a sinus infection.

Viruses that cause a cold or flu tend to circulate in the fall and winter months. COVID-19 can occur any time of the year. While a sinus infection could develop following COVID-19, this hasnt yet been reported by research.

A sinus infection can also occur after exposure to allergens or irritants, such as pollen, pet dander, and cigarette smoke. If you have allergies or were recently around an irritant, you may be at risk for a sinus infection.

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Causes Of Sinus Headaches

When you suffer from sinusitis, the sinus cavities those empty spaces under your eyes, by your nose and beneath your forehead become inflamed. The inflammation, whether its caused by bacteria, an allergen, a virus or fungus, makes it difficult for the sinuses to drain. Mucus builds up in them and puts pressures on your sinuses. The result is often described as a throbbing, dull pain in the cheeks, forehead or nose.

How Is Sinus Headache Prevented

Sinus Infection and Diabetes

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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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.

Symptoms Of Sinus Headaches

Allergies, nasal congestion, and sinus infections can trigger sinus headaches. Most headaches are not actually sinus-related, watch out for the following symptoms to indicate a sinus or allergic cause.:

Pain or pressure around your eyes, forehead, and cheeks

A decreased sense of smell or a complete loss of smell

Thick drainage from your nose

Thick drainage in your throat

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When To Seek Medical Care

How do I know if I need sinus surgery?

For people with known allergic triggers to sinus headaches, management is often possible without routine medical care simply by relieving symptoms with over-the-counter medications and, when possible, avoiding what causes the allergies.Call your doctor if:

  • You have head pain over your sinus and develop a fever, or you have a problem with your immune system.
  • You symptoms are worsening in ways not experienced before.
  • You develop new symptoms not typical of prior headache.
  • A particularly severe headache occurs.
  • Alteration or loss of consciousness occurs.
  • Headache persists longer than 56 days, particularly with symptoms that are worsening.
  • Current therapies/treatments are not working.
  • Fever and neck pain or stiffness are present.
  • Headache symptoms interfere with activities of daily living .
  • You suspect an infection.

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Causes Of A Sinus Headache

  • Nasal obstruction: If there is restricted airflow because of a deviated septum, nasal valve restriction, or enlarged turbinates, it can lead to congestion and pain.
  • Bacterial infection: If the sinuses are filled with mucus, they can harbor bacteria, which thrive in inflammatory conditions
  • Viral infections: Infections such as the common cold can cause sinus inflammation or the nose to swell
  • Allergies: Seasonal allergies such as hay fever can cause inflammation of the sinuses, which might lead to a decreased ability for mucus to drain, leading to blocked sinuses
  • Nasal polyps: At times, there may be abnormal growths in the sinuses or nose that can block mucus from draining

Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe

If appropriate, your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter medications described above. Decongestants can be particularly helpful in sinus headache.For more difficult allergies, medications that decrease secretion formation may be prescribed. Steroid nasal sprays can also be used effectively. For severe allergies, your doctor may refer you to an allergy specialist for other desensitizing therapies.Your doctor may order a CT or MRI scan of the sinuses to determine the extent of a bacterial infection, if present. If your doctor suspects a bacterial infection, he/she may prescribe antibiotics. Many sinus infections are caused by viruses that the body can effectively eliminate with time, which do not require antibiotics. Different agents designed to kill fungus or other organisms may be prescribed depending on your medical history. Additionally, some of the fluids draining from you sinus may be taken to identify the infection.Other headache syndromes, such as migraine or cluster headache, can mimic sinus headache. Your doctor will discuss these possibilities and advise you accordingly.

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Treatment For Sinus Pain

If you have pain thats caused by sinusitis, the following self-care measures may help ease your symptoms:

  • Inhaling steam.Inhaling steamy air may help loosen mucus and ease inflammation. You can do this by draping a towel over your head and leaning over a bowl of warm water. Standing in a warm, steamy shower may also help.
  • Using a nasal wash. A nasal wash is a saline solution and helps to flush out your sinuses. You can buy saline washes over-the-counter or make your own at home.
  • Taking OTC medications. Various OTC medications may help relieve symptoms like pain, inflammation, and sinus congestion:
  • pain medications like ibuprofen , naproxen , and acetaminophen
  • nasal decongestants, such as Sudafed and Mucinex Sinus Max
  • nasal corticosteroids like Flonase and Nasacort

Throat Irritation And Cough

What are the tests available to diagnose a sinus headache?

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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Symptoms Of A Sinus Headache

Forehead Pain: There might be pain in your forehead or in the top of your nose and upper cheek area. The pain might feel achier and deep, not sharp. Pressure: With the buildup of mucus in your sinuses, you might feel pressure in your nose and face. Fatigue: Most people will feel very tired when they have a headache cause by their sinuses. Postnasal Drip: Postnasal drainage will drip down the back of your throat. This might cause coughing and can give you a sore throat that could be worse after lying down for extended periods of time. Tooth and Jaw Pain: The roots of your teeth are located very close to your sinuses. In some cases, sinus problems might come from dental infections spreading to them. Tenderness: For some sufferers, there might be increased tenderness in the skin and bones around the affected sinuses.

Are Sinus Headaches And Migraines Related

People who often have allergies with a runny nose are 10 times more likely to have migraines. Asthma and migraine also share some of the same triggers.

So, do sinus and breathing problemscause migraines? Probably not, but it seems these conditions could be related somehow. If you want relief, you’ll need the right diagnosis and, if you have more than one condition, to consider treatment for each separately, even when they’re happening at the same time.

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