What Causes A Sinus Infection
In most cases, acute sinusitis is caused by a bacterial or viral infection, which means it usually develops after youve had a cold or the flu. Its possible for an acute sinus infection to develop into a chronic infection over time. However, most chronic sinus infections are caused by:
- Problems with the physical structure of your sinuses such as nasal polyps, narrow sinuses, or a deviated septum
- Allergies such as hay fever that cause inflammation
Certain health conditions are also known to accompany chronic sinusitis. These include:
- Primary immune deficiency disesase
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.
How You Can Treat Sinusitis Yourself
You can often treat mild sinusitis without seeing a GP by:
- getting plenty of rest
- taking painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
- avoiding allergic triggers and not smoking
- cleaning your nose with a salt water solution to ease congestion
You do not need to use all of the solution, but make a fresh solution each time you clean your nose.
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How Do I Know Which Type Of Headache I Have
While some headaches have unique features that make them easy to diagnose, most headaches arent that straightforward.
If you regularly get headaches at night and youre not sure why, it may be worth making an appointment with your doctor. They can help you narrow down the type of headache you have or rule out any underlying conditions that might be causing them.
To do this, theyll likely ask you a series of questions. These might be about:
Keeping these questions in mind, prepare a headache diary for your doctor. For about two weeks prior to your appointment, document every headache you have. Make sure to include all the details about pain characteristics, timing, triggers, and so on.
Sinus Anatomy And Headaches
Sinuses are air-filled cavities located in your forehead, above your teeth, between your eyes, and behind your nose.
The sinuses are lined with a mucous membrane that has tiny hairs called cilia. The cilia move mucus, a sticky, gelatinous material produced by the mucous membrane, out of the sinuses and into your nose for drainage. Along the way, the mucus traps bacteria and other germs that can cause infection, and moves them out of the respiratory system.
When the linings of the sinuses and the inside of your nose become swollen from allergy or infection, fluid can build up. When that happens, bacteria can grow in the fluid and cause an infection. The congestion and infection can produce intense sinus pressure and facial and head pain.
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What Distinguishes Migraine From A Sinus
The initial presentation of sinus infection is so similar to migraine that it is often mistakenly diagnosed and treated like just another headache. However, despite overlapping symptoms, differences between the two entities can be distinguished through a careful evaluation.
Migraine is a familiar event, with or without warning symptoms . It may be gradual or abrupt in onset, moderate or severe in intensity, is often accompanied by a sensitivity to light and sound, and by nausea and vomiting. The pain may be one-sided or diffuse, limited to the front, top, or back of the head, and may often reach into the neck. It may hurt in the face area as well. Migraine may be provoked by other illnesses that affect the head or neck, such as a dental problem or respiratory or sinus infection. Migraine often subsides after several hours with the assistance of an effective rescue medication . For most, migraine is a distinct and familiar event with a predictable duration and resolution.
How Is Sinusitis Treated
Doctors may prescribe oral antibiotics to treat sinusitis caused by . Some doctors may recommend decongestants and antihistamines to help ease symptoms.
Sinusitis caused by a usually goes away without medical treatment. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and/or warm compresses can help reduce any pain. Over-the-counter saline solution is safe and helps wash the nose and relieve many symptoms caused by allergies, viruses, and bacteria.
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How Are Sinus Headaches Diagnosed
Most of the time when people diagnose themselves with a sinus headache, its really a migraine. So, its important to see your healthcare provider to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms. If your symptoms are severe or ongoing, you may also need imaging tests. A magnetic resonance imaging test can rule out serious brain conditions. Multiple imaging tests can reveal sinus blockages and include:
- Computed tomography scan.
- Nasal endoscopy .
Problem #: Your Sleeping Conditions
Imagine your bedroom and answer the following questions:
- Are your pets sleeping with you at night?
- Do you drink caffeine before bed?
- Do you drink alcohol before bed?
- Hows the air in your room is it dry?
- Do you go to bed dehydrated?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have discovered a factor that is affecting your sinuses .
Why Are My Sinuses Worse At Night
Weve all been there: you think your sinus problems are getting better, but the minute you lay down, your nose gets stuffy, and youre stuck staring at the ceiling. Ultimately, you find yourself wondering, Why are my sinuses worse at night?
The answer to this question why are my sinuses worse at night? isnt always straightforward, and it can differ from person to person. What holds true for everyone, however, is that if your nose is blocked at night on one side or both, or if you are struggling with any other sinus-related issue, your sleep is going to suffer.
What follows is a list of common conditions or circumstances that might make your sinuses worse at night, along with some potential remedies.
Signs And Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection Or Sinusitis
- If there is an infection, fever, chills, feeling poorly, or achy muscles occur.
- Opaque or greenish-yellow nasal drainage.
- Postnasal drainage, in which secretions drip down to the back of the throat. This can cause a cough and sometimes people have signs like coughing up yellow sputum. However, they may actually be coughing up the drainage that has dripped down from the sinuses instead of coughing up phlegm from the lungs.
- Swollen lymph nodes may occur in the neck if an infection is present, which is no different than the swelling of lymph nodes that accompanies an acute sore throat or ear infection .
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 Home Remedies Help Soothe Sinus Headache Symptoms
There are a number of self-care measures available to help decrease sinus congestion and promote drainage of the sinuses, providing relief for sinus headache.
- Drink plenty of fluids to help you stay hydrated.
- Breathe humidified air.
- OTC pain medicationssuch as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help control pain.
- such as pseudoephedrine may be useful in promoting drainage of the sinuses. People with high blood pressure or heart conditions should check with their healthcare practitioner before using these medications. A number of over-the-counter decongestant medications are available, either singly or in combination with antihistamines, pain relievers, and/or anti-inflammatory medications.
- are also available that contain decongestant medications, but these should not be used for more than three days, due to the possibility of rebound inflammation, a worsening of the condition once use of the spray has stopped.
- Inhaled steroid preparations are sometimes prescribed to treat allergic sinusitis, and bacterial infections of the sinuses are treated with antibiotics.
- Antihistamines may be useful if allergies such as hay fever are the cause of congestion.
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Why Do I Keep Getting Sinus Headaches
Your head has developed that familiar throb, which worsens when you bend over, and you suspect that youre experiencing a sinus headache, again. As you arm yourself with decongestants and brace yourself for the discomfort, you think there has to be a better way of dealing with these headaches. There is.
At Houston Sinus Surgery, our team of ear, nose, and throat experts, led by Dr. Cecil Yeung, understands just how debilitating this type of head pain can be, and our goal is to help you put an end to the ongoing discomfort.
In the following, we take a look at what causes a sinus headache, how we can treat the problem, and the possibility that your headache isnt related to your sinuses.
You’re Trying Too Many Headache Remedies
Mixing, matching and overusing headache treatments can potentially backfire. “Sometimes, the thing youre taking for headache starts working against you,” Dr. Hutchinson says. Overdoing it on painkillers can actually make the pain worseand the caffeine in some headache medications can cause withdrawal headaches, compounding the effects. Overuse of any pain medication to treat headaches can cause what’s called a rebound headache.
Fix it: If you’ve been taking a lot of OTC medications, try stopping for a day or drastically limiting your intake. “If you’re able to then have a day without a headache and dont need to take anything, then you can say youre out of the rebound,” says Dr. Hutchinson.
You Have Nasal Polyps That Are Blocking Your Nasal Passages
Nasal polyps, growths in the sinuses, can trigger frequent sinus infections. Ordon said these growths of tissue can cause blockage in the nasal passages, resulting in an infection.
“Treatment for nasal polyps typically involves medications to shrink the polyps, but if drug treatments are unsuccessful, surgery may be necessary to remove them,” he told INSIDER.
Since polyps tend to reoccur, Ordon said that surgery might not provide a permanent solution.
Ok But What Can I Do If My Sinus Headache Wont Go Away
The best treatment for bacterial sinus infections and headaches caused by bacterial sinusitis is a full round of antibiotics. However, there are several steps you can take at home to ease the discomfort of a sinus headache that wont go away. These remedies include:
- OTC pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- OTC antihistamines, decongestants, or saline sprays
- Taking a hot bath or shower
- Using a humidifier
If you have chronic sinus infections, though, there are treatments that can provide a more long-term solution. Of these options, balloon sinuplasty is currently the most minimally-invasive treatment available.
Balloon sinuplasty is an in-office procedure that can provide lasting sinus relief in under twenty minutes. During the procedure, your ENT inflates a small balloon inside your sinus cavities, expanding them enough to restore proper drainage. Unlike other sinus surgeries, balloon sinuplasty does not involve the cutting of any bone or tissue, reducing both recovery time and complications. The procedure has an extremely high success rate .
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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
Sinus Headache Vs Migraine
According to the American Migraine Foundation, 50 percent of migraine misdiagnoses start with a person thinking they have a sinus headache. The Mayo Clinic points out that 90 percent of people who go to the doctor for a sinus headache find out they have a migraine instead.
If you dont have any of the symptoms that come specifically with a sinus headache, you may be experiencing a migraine. Migraines are treated differently from sinus headaches. If you experience symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, or sensitivity to light, youre likely having a migraine and not a sinus headache.
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Should You Visit A Specialist
If your sinus infection just wont go away or keeps coming back, it may be time to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist. An ENT treats conditions of the ear, nose, throat, head, face, and neck. It may be time to see an ENT if:
- Youve completed several courses of antibiotics without success
- Your doctor suspects nasal polyps or another blockage of the nasal cavity
- You have chronic sinusitis that lasts longer than 12 weeks
Living with a sinus infection is miserable and living with a sinus infection for weeks on end is worse. Contact your doctor or an ENT to get the treatment you need.
When Should I Call The Doctor
- a cold that lasts for more than 710 days without improvement
- a cold that seems to be getting worse after 7 days of symptoms
- symptoms of allergies that don’t clear with the usual allergy medicine
Also call if your child shows any other signs of worsening sinusitis, such as:
- pain or pressure in the cheeks or around the eyes
- swelling around the eye
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What Are The Symptoms Of Sinus Headaches
Patients with migraines or tension headaches commonly have sinus and nasal symptoms during their headaches, including sinus pressure, sinus pain, nasal congestion or runny nose. Studies of patients who have self-diagnosed or been diagnosed with sinus headaches were found to have migraines or tension headaches in more than 80 percent of cases only three to five percent of these patients had sinusitis.
Symptoms of sinusitis and migraine headaches can be similar, which can be confusing about what is causing sinus pain and pressure. Migraines and headaches can cause the following nasal symptoms:
- Pain and pressure around the eyes, across the cheeks, and the forehead
- Nasal congestion
- Eye redness, tearing, or eyelid swelling
- Symptoms on one or both sides of the face
Sinusitis is associated with nasal congestion or obstruction and a thick nasal discharge, sometimes with facial pain, pressure, or a feeling of fullness. However, facial pain or pressure or fullness without cloudy or colored nasal discharge is most likely not a sinus infection.
Sinus Infections Treated Medically
Not everybody will have a positive result from these home remedies. For some people, regardless of how moist the air is, they cant get rid of chronic sinus infections. For many, the answer is a procedure known as balloon sinuplasty.
Balloon sinuplasty is a procedure where a catheter is inserted into the sinuses through the nose. Once inside the sinus area, a specialized, tiny balloon is inflated, which helps the sinus passages to open more completely. The balloon is then deflated. This all takes place under general anesthesia, and because its minimally invasive, theres much less recovery and discomfort following this procedure than there would be with other surgical techniques.
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