The Signs Of A Sinus Headache
A sinus headache rarely occurs without other signs of congestion. When headache is your only symptom, it’s probably not related to your sinuses.
Other signs or symptoms of a sinus headache are facial pain, teary or reddened eyes, postnasal drip, and head pain that gets worse when you’re leaning forward, says Lauren Doyle Strauss, DO, a headache specialist and an assistant professor at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
The facial pain related to a sinus infection is located in the sinus areas around your eyes, cheeks, and forehead.
A headache can occur as part of an upper respiratory infection or follow a typical cold possibly causing pain over the involved sinus, explains Drexler.
In this case, there is often tenderness over the sinus area, and the pain usually begins an hour or so after the person gets out of bed in the morning. Congestion and mucus production often yellowish or greenish if there is a bacterial infection, or clear discharge if it’s a viral infection are associated signs, as is fever.
What Tests Diagnose The Causes Of A Sinus Headache
The health-care professional will likely begin by taking a history of the symptoms to help come to the diagnosis. Contributing factors in the development of sinusitis and headache may include a recent cold or upper respiratory tract infection, history of smoking, environmental allergies to dust or molds, as well as recent airplane travel, swimming or SCUBA diving, or other activities involving air pressure changes within the facial sinuses.
Physical examination may reveal tenderness to percussion, or tapping, over the affected sinus that reproduces the pain. Examination of the ears may reveal a serous otitis, or fluid levels behind the eardrum in the middle ear, that may suggest drainage problems in the face and sinuses. Examination of the nose may reveal swollen nasal passages and discharge. Evaluation of the mouth and teeth may find a source of infection, and the back of the throat may be examined for signs of postnasal drainage.
What Are The Signs Of A Sinus Headache
Typically, with a sinus headache, youll feel a deep and constant pain in your cheekbones, forehead or the bridge of your nose. The pain usually gets stronger when you move your head suddenly or strain. At the same time, you might have other sinus symptoms, such as a runny nose, fever or the feeling of fullness in your ears.
A migraine is often mistaken as a sinus headache, but with a migraine, nasal discharge is clear. If you have a real sinus headache that is caused by a sinus infection, youll also typically have a fever and thick, discolored nasal mucus.
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When To Talk To A Doctor
You should talk to a doctor if you consistently have to take pain medication for head pressure or pain more than two times per week. Make an appointment with your doctor if your discomfort is long term , severe, or unusual for you. Headaches that disrupt your day-to-day activities warrant medical treatment.
If you dont already have a primary care provider, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
Seeking treatment for an underlying condition, such as sinusitis or an ear infection, can also help relieve head pressure. Depending on your condition, your doctor might refer you to a neurologist or ear, nose, and throat specialist , also known as an otolaryngologist.
When the source of your head pressure isnt clear or symptoms suggest a more serious condition, a doctor might order a CT scan or an MRI scan. Both of these diagnostic procedures produce a detailed image of your brain that your doctor will use to learn more about what is causing your pain.
Ways To Treat A Sinus Headache
- Apply a warm compress to painful areas of the face.
- Use a decongestant to reduce sinus swelling and allow mucus to drain.
- Try a saline nasal spray or drops to thin mucus.
- Use a vaporizer or inhale steam from a pan of boiled water. Warm, moist air may help relieve sinus congestion.
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How To Get Rid Of A Sinus Pressure Headache
If you suffer from allergies, you may have congested sinuses as well, and this can lead to a sinus pressure headache. If youre wondering how to get rid of a sinus pressure headache, the first thing you need to understand is that these types of headaches can have several causes. Consequently, sinus headaches have a few different remedies.
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Each coated caplet contains 200 mg of the NSAID ibuprofen to reduce fever while helping to alleviate headache and minor body aches and pains. Sudafed PE Head Congestion + Pain also contains 10 mg of phenylephrine HCl to relieve sinus pressure and nasal congestion by reducing nasal passage swelling and restoring freer breathing through the nose.
This decongestant and pain reliever medicine can be used by adults and children 12 years and older.
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What Triggers Sinus Headaches
Sinus headaches are usually triggered by an infection, particularly after a viral upper respiratory infection or cold. This happens because the infection produces thick mucus that can clog the sinus cavities.
The sinuses are a connected system of hollow cavities in the skull. The largest sinus cavity is about an inch across, while others are much smaller. The two largest cavities are located near your cheekbones and the low-center area of your forehead. Pain felt during a sinus headache is usually in these two areas.
The main function of sinus cavities is to produce mucus that moisturizes the inside of our nose. This mucus layer protects the nose from pollutants, bacteria, dust, and dirt.
However, when mucus becomes too thick to pass through the cavities, it can get clogged or even infected. This leads to thick, discolored nasal mucus, a decreased sense of smell, and pain in the cheek, forehead, or upper teeth.
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Sinus Pressure Points On The Back Of The Head And Neck
There are areas around the neck and base of the skull that present an opportunity to relieve sinus pressure. The pressure points in these areas are located in delicate, cavity-like areas where the neck and skull adjoin. There are two such points.
One of them is the specific point where the neck meets the skull. It is right in the middle of the neck/head, near the base of your hairline.
To find it, place your finger at your hairline and move it either up or down until you find the cavity. By squeezing the point with your thumb for about five minutes, it may help clear sinus pressure.
The other area is found on the neck close to the base of the skull. The points are located at the highest point of the neck, just below the base of the skull.
To find it, place both of your thumbs at the top of your neck point and slowly separate them until you feel the cavities . Access the point by pressing slightly in and up and holding for about five minutes.
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Sinus Headache Or Migraine How To Tell The Difference
When you have a headache, it can be hard to pinpoint the cause. Is it a sinus headache? Is it a migraine? While it may not matter to you in the aching, painful moment, understanding the difference between the two can help you to manage your pain more effectively.
Although sinus headaches and migraines share symptoms and other characteristics, the two headaches have distinct diagnoses. About 90 percent of self-diagnosed sinus headaches are actually migraines, according to the American Migraine Foundation.
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What Kind Of Doctor Or Other Healthcare Professional Treats Sinus Headache
- Frequently, sinus headaches are managed by primary care physicians including those that specialize in internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics.
- For complicated cases, an ear, nose, and throat specialist may be consulted.
- With unusual infections, such as fungal infections, a specialist in infectious diseases may be consulted.
How To Treat Sinus Headache
Heat Up or Steam Up Your Face One of the most effective home remedies for sinus infections is to warm up and moisturize your sinus passageways. If your sinuses are blocked it can help to moisten your sinus cavities by inhaling steam.
What Area Of The Face Would You Massage To Relieve Sinus Pressure Quora
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Prevention And Treatment Of Sinus Headaches
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.
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:
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I had large nasal polyp extending into sphenoid sinus removed years ago. Since then barometric migraines have increased in severity and duration. They were starting to incapacitate me for hours. After an internet search I saw that nasal sprays containg capsaicin were being tried for migraines, headaches as well as sinus problems.
I chose this brand because it had fair reviews on line and Wal-Mart carried it. I didnt know what to expect. It is uncomfortable to use. Capsaicin is the major ingredient of pepper spray! I used it only in one nostril being cautious.
I noticed I was totally headache free after a few hours. I also noticed my sinus on the side used has given a new meaning to the word clear. Its been 6 hrs since use and Im still headache free and clear.
Honestly, I wont recommended this as a first choice. The capsaicin burns like heck. I dont like prescription pain relief. For me, I go to sleep w a severe barometric migraine and often wake up w a worsening migraine.
This is a product to consider. Use caution, for me it works.
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If I have a terrible headache that wont go away, I pull out the BC powder. Its a little disgusting, honestly. Some friends of mine mix the powder into liquid and drink it and others just place it on their tongue and then sip water.
What Is A Sinus Infection
A sinus infection, medically known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, occurs when your nasal cavities become infected, swollen, and inflamed. Fluid buildup in the sinuses can cause germs to grow, leading to a sinus infection.
Sinusitis is usually caused by a virus and often lasts even after other upper respiratory symptoms are gone. In some cases, bacteria or, rarely, fungus may cause a sinus infection.
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Sinus Migraine: When Sinus Pain Is More Than A Headache
Medically reviewed by Ari Magill, MD
Ari Magill, M.D. earned a B.S. in Zoology from University of Texas in Austin, TX and graduated with an M.D. from UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, TX. Dr. Magill completed neurology residency at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ and completed a movement disorders neurology fellowship at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center in Aurora, CO. He formerly practiced as a staff neurohospitalist at Northwest Medical Center in Tucson, AZ. Currently, Dr. Magill conducts independent VA disability exams on veterans who sustained traumatic brain injury and serves as a clinical research investigator for the IMA Group at their Alea Clinical Research facility.
Dr. Magill enjoys medical writing and has a special interest in cognitive, behavioral, and memory disorders and functional medicine health coaching. He is passionate about advancing dementia treatment through clinical research and aggressive lifestyle change aided by judicious use of supplements. Dr. Magill is an avid bicycle rider, a film enthusiast, and enjoys playing basketball in his free time.
This is an easy misdiagnosis, but it’s important to get it right because sinus-related headaches and straight-up migraines are treated differently. For a sinus headache, a decongestant could be key. But if you’re having a migraine, you might benefit most from a simple pair migraine glasses like these, or other remedies that are designed for migraine.
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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