Headache On Top Of Head: Symptoms 7 Causes & Treatment
If youve ever experienced pain in any part of your head, you know that its not much fun. A headache on top of the head can feel like throbbing pain or pressure in the crown.
The good news is that headaches on top of the head are rarely life-threatening, but they can still be disruptive and painful. Keep reading to learn more about these headaches and how you can keep them from happening.
Relieving The Sinus Headache Pain
Some sinus problems can be prevented with regular use of a Neti pot or other rinsing agent to keep your nasal and sinus passages moist.
Once you have that sinus pain, you can relieve the headache with acetaminophen-based products, like BC® Sinus Pain & Congestion powder, that contain acetaminophen as well as an antihistamine and nasal decongestant to help relieve congestion, runny nose and sinus pain.
If your symptoms dont respond to over-the-counter remedies, you think you have a sinus infection or you have other chronic health conditions, be sure to talk to your doctor to get the treatment you need.
Headache Help In Denver Co
If youre tired of dealing with chronic headaches and headache pain or reaching for the pill bottle every time you have a headache, I can help. At Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, we pride ourselves in making both new and existing patients feel supremely comfortable and welcome.
to schedule an appointment so we can talk about addressing your unique headache symptoms through a personalized treatment plan. I look forward to working with you and helping you say goodbye to your headaches.
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Is It A Sinus Headache Migraine Or Tension Headache
Sinus headaches are easy to confuse with migraines and tension headaches because the signs and symptoms of the three overlap. Analyzing the location and duration of the pain along with other factors can help distinguish between them.
Location of Pain
- Sinus headaches: Tend to be on both sides of the head above the eyebrows, behind the eyes and down the front of the face to the top of the mouth. If a persons sinuses are clogged, they can be one-sided.
- Migraines: Are often located on only one side of the head.
- Tension headaches: Frequently feel like theyre all over the head or just in the temple and back of the head down the neck.
Duration of Pain
- Sinus headaches: Seem to come out of nowhere and last, with varying levels of intensity, for hours, days, or even weeks.
- Migraine pain: Can present suddenly or gradually and can last anywhere from one hour to two weeks.
- Tension headache: Pain begins gradually and then slowly builds up. It typically resolves in a few hours.
- Symptoms of sinus headaches: Include nasal congestion, sore throat, and feeling worse when lying down.
- Symptoms of migraines: Include nausea, vomiting, extreme sensitivity to light, and experiencing auras .
- Symptoms of tension headaches: Include sore back, neck, and shoulders.
Sinusitis can often be a trigger for migraine and tension-type headaches. So, it can be very complicated when more than one type of headache is occurring in the same patient.
Causes Of Nasal And Sinus Headaches
Among the main causes of nasal and sinus headaches are the nasal turbinates. The nasal turbinates are the structures which may bulge and contract during the day, giving the effect of nasal blockage and, from time to time, a pressure. It is worsened by irritants such as allergens, perfume or cigarette smoke.
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Why Does My Whole Head Hurt When My Sinuses Are Congested
As we breathe, air flows into our nose up through our sinuses and down into the lungs. The sinuses are a system of cavities lined with soft tissue and a light coating of mucus to help moisten and filter the air we breathe. In order to understand why your whole head might hurt when you have a sinus issue, you need to understand the different sinus cavities people have. They are:
- Maxillary sinuses These are the largest sinus cavities and they are situated near the cheekbones on both sides of the nose.
- Frontal sinuses Above the bridge of the nose in the forehead are the frontal sinusesone on each side above a good portion of each eyebrow.
- Ethmoid sinuses These sinuses sit behind the bone at the inside corner of each eye.
- Sphenoid sinuses This last group sits a good bit behind the ethmoid sinuses.
No doubt youre already recognizing how the pain you feel with sinus congestion or an infection matches up with the different sinus locations described above.
In order to function properly, the sinuses need to be able to drain freely. Allergies, infection and other irritation can inflame the sinus tissue and narrow air passageways. This inflammation is what causes pain. Inflammation in the frontal sinuses often causes us to shut our eyes and press our fingers around the bridge of our nose. Now you know that when you have this sort of headache, its most likely due to a problem in your sinuses.
Sinus Migraine: When Sinus Pain Is More Than A Headache
You have a headache. It extends over your eye and you have pressure in your face. Your nose even runs a little. You take some Sudafed or ibuprofen, tell everyone you have a sinus headache or even a sinus migraine, and lay down for a while. Two or three hours later you are better. You might have a little residual soreness and you might be a little tired, but the worst of the headache is over. Youve just had a sinus headache or was it?
You could have had a migraine that isnt even related to any sinus issues and not realize it. You felt sinus pain and pressure, so your mind automatically went to sinus headache. Your doctor may even have told you it was sinus related and the subject of migraines never came up. It happens a lot more than you might think. In fact, nearly 90% of patients who visit their doctor and complain of sinus headache actually have a migraine or migraine-type headache.
This is an easy misdiagnosis, but its 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 youre having a migraine, you might benefit most from a simple pair migraine glasses like these, or other remedies that are designed for migraine.
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Fight Head Congestion With Sudafed
Consider taking SUDAFED PE® Head Congestion+Pain. With Ibuprofen and phenylephrine , this coated tablet can help provide relief from your head cold symptoms and combat pesky nasal congestion and swelling, sinus pressure, headache, fever, and body aches. Always read and follow the label carefully, and make sure the product is right for you.
Get Ahead Of Cold Symptoms
Though theres no promise youll escape cold and flu season without a runny nose or sore throat, there are some steps you can take to increase your chances of staying healthy.
- Wash your hands frequently to help prevent coming into contact with or spreading harmful germs.
- Disinfect your environment and frequently clean commonly touched surfaces such as sink handles, doorknobs and handrails.
- Avoid sharing personal items, especially those that come in contact with your eyes, nose or mouth like utensils, washcloths or cups.
- Do not come in close contact with people who have colds or other upper respiratory infections.
Overall, pursue a healthy lifestyle to boost immunity by eating nutritious food, sleeping eight hours, drinking water, exercising and managing stress.
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How Do I Get Rid Of A Sinus Headache
To get rid of a sinus headache, you have to treat the underlying cause. But you can take steps to ease sinus pressure and pain at home:
- 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.
Viruses, bacteria and sometimes fungi cause sinus infections. Viral infections often go away on their own. But if your infection is bacterial or fungal, you need antibiotics or antifungal medications. Your healthcare provider may also recommend other medications to ease discomfort, such as:
- Antihistamines to prevent allergy symptoms.
- Pain relievers to ease headache pain.
- Steroids to reduce inflammation.
Migraines with sinus symptoms
Sinus headaches that are actually migraines need a different type of treatment. The first step is to relieve your pain. You should know that frequently using over-the-counter medications when you have a headache can cause even more headaches .
Your provider may recommend prescription medication for migraine pain. You may also need a preventive medication that helps you have fewer migraine attacks.
What Are The Causes And Triggers Of Sinus Headaches
Sinus headaches are most often a symptom of sinusitis, in which the sinus becomes inflamed from allergies or other triggers like an infection. Sinus headaches may also result from seasonal allergies that last an extended period of time. This is called rhinitis, or hay fever. Sinus infections and sinus blockages can also trigger sinus headaches.
Migraine Vs Sinus Headache
It isnt always easy to tell the difference between a migraine and a headache, much less a sinus headache, but each condition does have its own set of specific symptoms. While some are shared, others are very distinct to the condition. This creates a strong case for keeping a migraine diary and documenting the details of and surrounding your headaches.
According to Dr. Ailani, the symptoms of migraine and sinus headache are similar because of the region of the brain that is activated during an attack:
Migraine can also have associated symptoms, symptoms that come WITH the headache pain that can be confused for a sinus or allergy problem. You can have a runny nose, watery eyes, your eyes can turn red. These symptoms, called autonomic symptoms, come on because of the area in the brain, the hypothalamus, that gets turned on during migraine.
Following this section are common symptoms for migraines as well as sinus migraine, sinus headaches and sinusitis. As you can see, many of them are identical or nearly identical. Its no wonder that patients struggle to describe their head pain and doctors struggle to diagnose it. The problem is, without a proper diagnosis you cant get proper treatment. If you are diagnosed with sinus headaches but you actually have migraines, it could delay your migraine treatment for years.
Can A Sinus Headache Cause A Migraine
A common misconception is that sinusitis triggers migraines , but that isnt likely to happen. Sinusitis originates in a different region of the body than migraine and they are not necessarily connected However, the two conditions do share the same nerves that can be stimulated, and they do both produce many of the same chemicals in the body during an attack. There are certain signs that can help distinguish between the two and knowing this can help facilitate appropriate treatment of the condition that is present.
Dr. Ailani explains how easy it can be to mistake a migraine for a sinus headache:
With a sinus infection, you will often have a fever, bright colored mucus from the nose in large amounts, and pain that is worse when you lay down . You may notice the pain is worse in the morning after sleeping for several hours. Occasionally, someone may have a chronic sinus infection, something that has been going on for several months. In this case, a person may not have any symptoms, and may not have a headache either.
If you have a severe headache with sinus type symptoms and also have light or sound sensitivity, upset stomach, lack of appetite, and no fever, and you notice the pain resolves in 4-36 hours- this may be a migraine. If you notice the pain improves when laying in a dark, quiet room, or when taking over the counter pain medication, this again goes along with migraine.
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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.
Which Muscles Are At Fault
Headaches on the top of the head especially tension headaches and migraines are typically caused by just a few muscles.
The first is a group of muscles called suboccipital muscles, which are responsible for movement between the first and second vertebrae in the neck and the skull. These muscles can become tense due to factors like grinding your teeth, eye strain, or poor posture. This alone can trigger tension headaches and migraines. If these muscles become too tense, they can compress the occipital nerve, causing occipital neuralgia.
The splenius cervicus and splenius capitus muscles, which run up the neck, can also cause headache pain at the top of the head if theyre too tight. Tension in these muscles can also cause a stiff neck or neck pain in addition to headaches.
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Sinusitis And Sinus Headaches
What most people dont realize is that true sinus headaches are actually quite uncommon and are often over diagnosed or misdiagnosed. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses, often due to a bacterial infection. The sinuses are air pockets that are situated at certain points in the facial bones. Scientists are not certain the exact purpose of sinuses. Some believe that it helps enhance the voice through resonation while others believe it may be a way for the body to humidify the air during inhalation. They are usually empty but do have a very thin mucus layer along the walls.
There are four pairs of paranasal sinuses, meaning that there are two at the same points on the left and right. They are:
- Frontal sinuses: above the eyes just over the eyebrows
- Maxillary sinuses: on each side of the nose, in the cheekbone
- Ethmoid sinuses: between the eyes, under the bridge of the nose
- Sphenoid sinuses: behind the eyes and ethmoid sinuses
Inflammation of the sinuses can occur due to bacterial, viral, or fungal causes and can present in one of the sinus pair, or several. If there is an infection present, it is important that it is treated. Failure to properly treat a sinus infection can cause serious health risks and can create a propensity to develop sinus infections in the future.
What Type Of Headache Do You Have
Headaches are familiar to nearly everyone: in any given year, almost 90% of men and 95% of women have at least one. In the vast majority of cases, however, the pain isn’t an omen of some terrible disease. The three most common types of headaches are tension, sinus, and migraine. The most common headache triggers are stress, fatigue, lack of sleep, hunger, and caffeine withdrawal.
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Symptoms Of A Migraine
Migraines can vary from person to person and even from attack to attack. There are a wide range of migraine symptoms, but the most common include:
- Head pain, often over one eye or on one or both sides
- Sensitivity to light
- Ear pain
To further compound the confusion between these two conditions, even treatment options are similar. Many people are very surprised to discover that sinus medications and treatments relieve their migraine pain. Dr. Ailani explains:
Migraine can improve when using products like Sudafed or Advil cold/sinus. These medications work to reduce some of the chemicals that are elevated during a migraine, so dont be fooled into thinking that if you feel better with Sudafed, it is a sinus issue. Overuse of these medications can lead to more headaches, so if you find yourself using these medications more than 2-3 days a week, seek medical attention for an appropriate diagnosis.
A diagnosis of either a migraine or a sinus headache is the first step in finding treatment that works.
Treating Sinus Headaches With Advent
Not to worry, there are many simple in-office solutions for you to solve your chronic sinus headaches. In fact, ADVENT has helped over 30,000 people get to the root of their sinus and sleep issues for good…
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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: