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.
Can You Have A Cough After A Sinus Infection
You may notice that even after the core symptoms are gone, you still have a cough after a sinus infection clears up. Thats most likely because there is still lingering inflammation in your sinuses causing post-nasal drip the backed-up drainage that runs down the back of your throat, often prompting a natural coughing reflex to clear your airway.
When sinuses are just doing their everyday job, they produce mucus to help protect your system from dust, allergens, and pollutants but that mucus has to drain to keep irritants out. Sinus infections occur when that drainage gets blocked, causing mucus to back up and become more susceptible to bacteria or viruses.
Discover why you may have a cough after a sinus infection and learn what remedies are available.
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Are Sinus Infections Contagious
- Doctors and researchers disagree about whether or not sinus infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and occasionally fungi, are contagious, except in rare instances.
- Some doctors believe that sinus infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi can be transferred to other people, and can occasionally cause sinus infections.
- Most doctors agree that most people with sinus infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi are not contagious so you cannot get it from another person, with the exception in rare instances.
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Sinus Headache Medicine In A Pinch
The best sinus headache medicine is of course plenty of fluids and a bit of TLC. There are many treatments that will help ease your pain naturally however, if you need some instant relief, you should consider over-the-counter medication.
That being said, if you are taking these medications regularly for ten days in a row, you should consult your physician to find a more permanent solution.
Sore Throat And Hoarse Voice
Postnasal drip can leave you with a raw and aching throat. Although it may start as an annoying tickle, it can get worse.
If your infection lasts for a few weeks or more, mucus can irritate and inflame your throat as it drips, resulting in a painful sore throat and hoarse voice. Frequent coughing and throat clearing can make a hoarse voice worse.
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What Causes Postnasal Drip
- Certain medications, including some for birth control and blood pressure
- Deviated septum, which is the crooked placement of the wall that separates the two nostrils, or some other problem with the structure of the nose that affects the sinuses
- Changing weather, cold temperatures, or really dry air
- Certain foods
- Fumes from chemicals, perfumes, cleaning products, smoke, or other irritants
Sometimes the problem is not that youâre producing too much mucus, but that itâs not being cleared away. Swallowing problems can cause a buildup of liquids in the throat, which can feel like postnasal drip. These problems can sometimes occur with age, a blockage, or conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD.
How Is A Sinus Headache Diagnosed
- Usually, a careful history and physical examination can establish the diagnosis of a sinus headache. Blood tests are usually not necessary.
- In some cases, the healthcare professional may order a CT scan to obtain images of the sinuses, but this is not common. A negative CT scan and examination can help rule out sinus disease.
- Other causes of headaches, including migraines, may initially present with symptoms thought to be from sinus inflammation.
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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.
Apply A Warm Compress
Applying a warm towel over your forehead and nose can help to reduce swelling and inflammation in your sinus passages. Its also a simple home remedy that you can use before you go to bed.
Heat from the warm towel helps to open up your nasal passages to reduce swelling and hence open up your nasal passageway. This will also help to loosen mucus secretion and aid in mucus flow.
Here are some simple steps on how you can apply a warm compress to provide sinus headache relief:
- Fill up a bowl with water thats warmer than body temperature. Ensure that its not scalding
- Soak the towel in the water and wring out excess water
- Fold the towel into a square and apply it over your forehead and nose
- Hold the towel in position and place it in contact with your skin for up to 20 minutes each time
Alternatively, you can make a warm compress through the following method:
- Soak two towels in water and squeeze out excess water
- Put one towel in a ziplock bag and leave the bag open
- Microwave the bag for 2 minutes
- Remove the bag from the microwave and seal it. Be careful as the bag will be hot to touch
- Wrap the other towel around the bag.
- Apply the heating pad to your forehead for about 20 minutes
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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.
What Are The Signs You Have A Sinus Headache
When you or your child are experiencing a headache, there are signs and symptoms that can help determine whether its a sinus headache, rather than a migraine or other issue.
- Blocked nose with a yellow discharge
- Pain across your forehead, cheeks and nose
- Increased pain when you move your head or bend over
- Persistent pain that remains after a cold has cleared
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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.
Remedies For Sinus Headaches
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Sinus headaches are caused by blocked sinuses, giving you pain and pressure around your sinuses, including between your eyes and above your nose. The pain can get worse when you move and the headache usually comes with other symptoms too, such as a stuffy nose or a sore throat. Experiencing a sinus headache can be tough, but there are remedies that can help you to deal with the problem.
Dealing with the pain youre experiencing is important, but it can also be necessary to consider treatments for the underlying cause of your sinus headaches too. An ear, nose and throat doctor might prescribe certain medications or suggest treatments that you can try at home.
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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
Runny Nose Watery Eyes And Sneezing
Over-the-counter antihistamines such as chlorpheniramine and diphenhydramine block this process and can relieve those symptoms. They can also make you sleepy and dry out your eyes, nose, and mouth. Antihistamines can make secretions thick, which can be a problem for people with asthma.
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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.
What Prescription Medications Treat A Sinus Headache Pain And Pressure
Headaches from allergies can be relieved with a prescription for nasal steroid sprays unless there is a contraindication. This may be helpful along with nasal saline rinses to decrease inflammation within the nasal passages and treat or prevent sinusitis.
If a bacterial infection is suspected, the healthcare professional may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection and at the same time make suggestions to treat the underlying inflammation. To establish the diagnosis of acute bacterial rhinosinusitis and the need for antibiotics, your doctor should confirm that
- symptoms of acute rhinosinusitis have been present for 10 days or are worsening.
- Symptoms should include pus-like nasal drainage, nasal obstruction, facial pain, or pressure.
- If the inflammation does not resolve before the antibiotic course is complete, the bacterial infection may recur.
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When To Talk With A Doc About Sinus Pain
Sinus headaches can be a symptom of a sinus infection or another underlying condition. If your headache persists or you experience the following symptoms, its time to seek medical treatment:
- rattling in your chest
- discolored nasal discharge
A medical professional can figure out whats causing your headaches and let you know what steps to take for some sweet sinus relief.
Several medications are available to treat a sinus headache, including both over-the-counter options and doctor-prescribed meds.
Check If You Have Sinusitis
Symptoms of sinusitis include:
- pain, swelling and tenderness around your cheeks, eyes or forehead
- a blocked nose
- a reduced sense of smell
- green or yellow mucus from your nose
- a sinus headache
- bad breath
Signs of sinusitis in young children may also include irritability, difficulty feeding, and breathing through their mouth.
The sinuses are small, empty spaces behind your cheekbones and forehead that connect to the inside of the nose.
Sinusitis causes the lining of the sinuses to swell up.
This stops mucus draining into your nose and throat properly, making you feel blocked up.
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Remedies And Treatments For Sinus Infection Pain
There are several effective home remedies and treatments for sinus infection pain. Many remedies are available over the counter at a low cost.
Common sinus infection treatments include:
If your sinuses are blocked, it can help to moisten your sinus cavities by inhaling steam. Doing so loosens the blocked mucus and allows it to drain. Try draping a towel over your head as you breathe in the vapor from a bowl of hot water. Alternatively, you can take a hot shower or bath, breathing in the warm, moist air.
This home remedy, called nasal lavage, can help clear your sinuses. Nasal irrigation can clear sinus drainage from the nose to make it easier to breathe. It also thins the mucus in your nose, reduces inflammation, and washes away irritants in the nasal passages.
Saline rinses require sterile water, which can be either boiled or purchased. To avoid introducing additional bacteria to the nasal passages, keep your Neti Pot clean between uses.
Nasal Corticosteroid Sprays
Nasal corticosteroid sprays help prevent and treat inflammation and excess mucus in the nasal passages. They also treat polyps .
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs
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How To Tell If You Have An Actual Sinus Infection
Even though we often say we have a sinus infection even if its just inflammation or an allergic response, there are symptoms of an actual infection that may be treatable with antibiotics. Nasal congestion and pain under the eyes or around the temples are, of course, main symptoms, but others include the loss of the sense of smell, green nasal discharge, mucus dripping down your throat, cough, fever, fatigue, sore throat, and even bad breath.
Sometimes, a sinus infection will clear up without intervention, but if you develop a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, have your symptoms for 10 or more days, notice that your symptoms are getting worse and are not improved by OTC medications, or you have multiple infections in a years time, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
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How To Prevent Sinus Pain
There are also steps you can take to prevent sinus pain. Pay attention to triggers for allergies and nasal irritation and try to reduce or prevent those exposures whenever possible. Common irritants that can cause sinus pain include:
Cigarette smoke: Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are common triggers for sinus pain and sinusitis. Quitting or reducing exposure can alleviate symptoms.
Pollution: When you breathe in air pollutants, such as industrial chemicals or paint fumes, they are absorbed by the nose and can lead to irritation of the nose and sinuses.
Allergens: Allergies are a major culprit of sinusitis and sinus pain. Common allergens include pollen, mold, pets, and dust mites. An allergist can give you an allergy test to help identify what’s causing your symptoms so that you can take steps to reduce exposure.
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.
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Sinus Pain Home Remedies
There are a variety of home remedies that can help with the congestion to relieve sinus pain and pressure. Home remedies that you can try include:
- Drinking water: Staying hydrated can help to thin nasal secretions. Drinking plenty of fluids is also important in your recovery from viral illnesses.
- Neti pot: A neti pot is used to irrigate the nasal passageways and can help to control congestion and nasal secretions.
- Saline nasal sprays:Saline nasal sprays are sold over-the-counter at most drug stores. They are used to loosen nasal secretions and thereby decrease congestion by allowing it to drain. They can be used many times per day.
- Cool mist humidifier: The humidity loosens nasal secretions and the cold air can help to decrease inflammation. If you do not have access to a cool-mist humidifier, several hot, steamy showers per day can also help to loosen nasal secretions.
- Warm compress: Use a warm rag or heating pad over your sinuses to ease the pain. Do this several times per day.