Severe Sinus Pain: Symptoms Causes And Treatments
Your sinuses are pockets of air located behind and around your nose, in your cheeks, around and between your eyes, and in your forehead. When your sinuses become inflamed or clogged, breathing through your nose may become more difficult, and your eyes might feel tender or swollen.
If you are suffering from severe sinus pain, you may have a sinus infection, also known as sinusitis. Understanding the signs and symptoms of severe sinus pain can help you know when and how to seek proper treatment and when to go to the doctor.
Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection
Common symptoms of sinus infections may include:
- Runny nose or cold symptoms that last longer than seven to 10 days
- Complaints of drip in the throat from the nose
- Keep chronic diseases under control
- Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth
- Stay current on your vaccines
- Wash your hands frequently
Where Are The Sinuses
The sinuses are hollow spaces or cavities in the bones around the nose. Your sinuses make mucus or fluid. The mucus drains into your nasal cavity and down the back of your throat. This keeps your nose moist and gets rid of dust, allergens, and germs.
There are four pairs of sinuses connected to your nose:
- in the cheekbones on each side of your nose
- above your eyes near the forehead
- between the eyes and the bridge of your nose
- behind your eyes
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Advil Sinus Congestion & Pain Reliever Coated Tablets
One of the main complications that come hand in hand with sinus congestion is the pain. The increase of pressure due to accumulated mucus can make it difficult to breathe and pave the way for throbbing headaches. Because of this common symptom combination, Advil Sinus Congestion and Pain Reliever has been dubbed the best medicine for sinus pressure because it targets both pain and congestion effectively.
The main ingredient this formulation uses for decongestion is phenylephrine HCl, which works to reduce mucus production to stop congestion from persisting. It also encourages the body to expectorate phlegm so that the airways can be cleared of congestion. Aside from this function, Advil Sinus Congestion and Pain Reliever also targets pain with ibuprofen. So while the product works to resolve the cause of sinus pressure, it also temporarily addresses any acute pain you might experience for fast and immediate relief.
Sinus Headache Definition And Facts
- Sinuses in the face are air the spaces that develop from the nasal passages and help with air humidification and mucus secretion.
- Inflammation of the sinuses may decrease the ability for the mucus to drain, increasing pressure within the sinuses, which can cause a sinus headache. Common causes of inflammation include allergies, infections, or colds.
- Symptoms of a sinus headache include pain in the face that may worsen with bending down or straining
- pain that radiates to the forehead, temple, or cheek
- runny or stuffy nose
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Sinus Trouble: Consider The Causes
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.
Allergies And Sinus Headaches
Ever heard that allergies cause sinus headaches? Itâs not quite that simple.
Allergies can cause sinus congestion, which can make your head hurt. Treatment for your allergies can ease that congestion, but it wonât relieve your headache pain. You usually have to treat the two conditions separately. See your doctor to make sure you get the right help.
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Sinus Pressure Causes And Reasons
There are various causes of sinus pressure. A few factors can cause irritation of your nasal passages and bring about symptoms of sinus pressure. Some sinus pressure causes and reasons include:
Sinusitis. Usually referred to as a sinus infection, sinusitis can cause pressure and pain in your sinuses. You should discuss treatment options with your doctor if you suspect you’re dealing with sinusitis . Sinus infection, referred to as sinusitis, is a common health issue, impacting 31 million Americans.
Environmental irritants. Airborne pollutants like irritants that cause allergies could trigger sinus pressure and mucus build-up.
The common cold. All colds aren’t the same, but in some cases, they can cause the symptom mucus build-up and this means sinus pressure.
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.
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Sinus Headaches Vs Migraines
Placing a warm, damp washcloth over your forehead may help soothe a sinus headache.
Sinus headaches are often confused with migraines. It is easy to confuse the two as the migraine headache is a result of the activation of the trigeminal nerves that stimulate the sinus regions as well as the meninges encasing the brain. As such, it is very difficult to determine exactly where the original pain is extending from. To confuse matters even further, a migraine headache will often cause a runny nose and eye tearing, so the symptoms often look very similar. Patients with complaints of sinus headaches often reported treatments such as decongestants and/or antibiotics being ineffectual while treatment with migraine medications result in relief. However, patients with migraines do not report the thick, greenish nasal discharge which is typically seen with true sinus infection .
According to the 2007 edition of the Clinical Practice Guideline: adult sinusitis, with sinusitis symptoms lasting less than 7 days, is assumed to be viral in nature, while symptoms lasting more than 10 days are assumed to be bacterial acute sinusitis. Learn more about Viral vs. Bacterial sinus infections.
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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What Is A Sinus Headache
If the linings of the ducts or tubes that connect the sinuses to the back of the nose become inflamed, the sinuses may not be able to drain normally, and pressure may build up within the blocked sinus. There may also be associated swelling and inflammation of the lining of the sinuses, resulting in increased mucus and fluid secretion. This increase in fluid combined with the inability to drain increases pressure within the sinus cavity, causing the pain of a sinus headache. The term sinusitis is used to describe inflammation of the sinus.
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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Antibiotics For A Severe Sinus Infection
You may be surprised that antibiotics are not listed as the first step in treatment. While many patients with sinusitis expect antibiotics, they aren’t usually needed if good drainage is achieved.
Antibiotics have potential disadvantages. They can trigger allergic reactions or cause side effects. Widespread use of antibiotics has encouraged the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria . And many of these drugs are expensive.
Still, if your sinusitis does not improve with two to four days of drainage therapy, or if it’s very severe to begin with, it probably needs an antibiotic to help get rid of the trapped bacteria. Antibiotic therapy for just three to seven days is generally as effective as traditional 10- to 14-day treatment for uncomplicated acute sinusitis.
Many bacteria can cause acute sinusitis the most common include some with fearsome names like Pneumococcus, Streptococcus, Hemophilus, and Moraxella. Unless you have a sinus puncture , there’s really no way to know which bacteria are causing your sinusitis. Cultures of your mucus or your nose, even if they are obtained through a nasal speculum, are not helpful because they are always contaminated by the many bacteria that live in every nose.
Can Sinus Headaches Be Prevented
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 Are The Types Of Face Pain
The exact type of pain you feel will depend on the cause. A dull, throbbing pain on one side of your face or around your mouth is generally due to problems within the mouth, such as a toothache, cavity, or abscess. If you experience this type of pain, contact your dentist.
The pain associated with sinusitis feels like pressure or an aching pain across the front of the cheekbones and underneath the eyes. Abscesses and ulcers will often throb at the site of the sore. Headaches and injuries can feel like a stabbing sensation or can throb and ache.
Because there are many causes of facial pain, talk to your doctor if you experience pain thats unexplainable or unbearable.
Why Sinus Pressure Without Congestion Is Unique
It seems like everyone can remember at least one morning where they wake up and just dont feel good. The pressure in their nose paired with the struggle to breathe properly is something we have all experienced at some point.
This issue is known as congestion, and it is that feeling you have when your nose feels blocked. In most cases, you will also experience sinus pressure when you deal with congestion.
Sinus pressure and congestion go hand in hand as congestion is caused by the nasal cavities in your head getting backed up. When these cavities fill up, your sinuses feel the pressure of the added fluid and tend to feel uncomfortable. This is why so often you will see people dealing with both sinus pressure and headaches at the same time.
Just because these two symptoms go hand in hand does not mean that they cant exist in isolation. As we will see, there are many causes of sinus pressure and dizziness that often dont come with added congestion.
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When To Seek Medical Care
See a doctor if you have:
- Severe symptoms, such as severe headache or facial pain.
- Symptoms that get worse after initially improving.
- Symptoms lasting more than 10 days without improvement.
- Fever longer than 3-4 days.
You should also seek medical care if you have had multiple sinus infections in the past year.
This list is not all-inclusive. Please see a doctor for any symptom that is severe or concerning.
Other conditions can cause symptoms similar to a sinus infection, including:
- Seasonal allergies
What To Do For Sinus Pressure And Pain At Home
Here are the top 10 at-hometreatments to help ease your sinus pain and inflammation to get rid of your sinus infection faster.
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Allergy Sinusitis And Sinus Headache Resources
There are a number of very good resources available for people suffering from allergies, sinusitis, and sinus headaches:
What To Do For Severe Sinus Pain
The paranasal sinuses are a set of four hollow areas, which surround the nasal cavity. The true purpose of these sinuses is still debated, and it is possible that they really serve no biological function at all. However, being joined by a small area known as the ostia, these sinus areas can become easily blocked by allergic inflammation or by nasal lining swelling which occurs during a cold or flu. Knowing the options and what to do for severe sinus pain can quickly alleviate pain and discomfort. When this occurs, the normal process of mucus drainage can be disrupted resulting in a condition known as sinusitis. Another condition which may effect the sinus cavity areas is an infection of the posterior teeth, since they are close to the maxillary sinus.
Inflammation of the four sinus cavities depicted in the above diagram is the root cause of sinusitis.
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