Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches cause a dull throbbing pain the frontal sinuses of the face. The headaches are caused by an inflammation in the sinuses (air-filled cavities around your nose, eyes and cheeks).

What are the symptoms of a sinus headache?

Sinus headaches cause deep, dull pain and are caused by an inflammation in the lining of any one of the four pairs of paranasal sinuses, which include the frontal, ethmoid maxillary and sphenoid sinuses. The inflammation may or may not be the result of infection from fungal, bacterial, viral or allergic or autoimmune issues. Sinus headaches typically present with the following symptoms:

  • Facial tenderness;
  • Pain is exaggerated by sudden movement or by bending forward;
  • Greater pain in the morning after waking from laying down;
  • Pain is exaggerated by temperature changes; and
  • Headaches typically occurring just before or after a cold.

Other symptoms when related to sinusitis may include:

  • Nasal discharge;
  • Yellow or green nasal discharge;
  • Red and swollen nasal passages;
  • Mild to moderate fever;
  • General sense of un-wellness; and
  • Fatigue

What are the causes of sinus headaches?

Sinus headaches are caused by sinus congestion and inflammation called sinusitis. Sinusitis can be triggered by an upper respiratory infection (URI) or allergies such as hay fever. Healthy sinuses allow mucus to drain and air to circulate throughout the nasal passages. When sinuses are inflamed, the blockage causes mucus to remain trapped allowing for an environment for bacteria, viruses and fungus to reside and grow rapidly.

What can prevent sinus headaches?

The following preventative measures may reduce or eliminate sinus headaches:

  • Using a humidifier;
  • Using a saline nasal spray;
  • Inhaling steam 2 to 4 times per day; and
  • Quickly addressing allergy and asthma attacks.

Are there any medications that are appropriate for sinus headaches?

There are medications that are appropriate for sinus headaches comprised of both prescribed medications and over-the-counter medications. Some of the medications that may be appropriate under certain conditions would include:

  • Prescription or over the counter Antihistamines;
  • Antibiotics, to treat the underlying sinus infection if one exists.
  • Nasal saline drops;
  • Prescription nasal corticosteroid sprays
  • Prescription or over the counter Decongestants; and
  • Endoscopic Sinus Surgery for the most serious cases.

Who is qualified to treat sinus headaches?

A specialized professional, preferably an otolaryngologist with extensive sinus experience, is necessary to evaluate and diagnose sinus headaches caused by chronic or acute sinusitis. It is important to not only deal with the current bout of sinusitis, but to take steps to reduce the chances of the sinusitis recurring in the future, which require analysis of the likely contributing factors.

The sinus-specialty otolaryngologists of The Sinus Institute at CEI have over 35 years years of experience treating sinusitis in all of its forms using both medical treatments and cutting edge surgery options. Click here to make an appointment.