Sinus Headaches Causes Treatment

Sinus Headaches: Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

Sinus headaches as the name suggest can cause pain and discomfort to you. It occurs mostly due to the infection is your sinuses. The medical term for sinus infection is sinusitis. As a result of the infection, you can feel pressure around your forehead, cheeks, and your eyes. The condition differs from migraines, pain behind the eyes, tension headaches, or other types of headaches. The infection can result in the throbbing of your head.

It is important to get a professional diagnosis as the different headaches have the same symptoms. So, you can confuse one type of headache for the other. Several underlying causes, including allergies, can cause infection and lead to pain across the cheeks and the bridge of the nose. Read ahead to get more information about the problem and how to manage it effectively. It will help you deal with the pain without causing disturbance to your daily activities.

What Do You Mean By Sinus Headaches?

Sinuses are spaces present in the bones of your face. The air-filled spaces are present on your cheekbones, forehead, above the eyes, and behind the bridge of your nose. Though it is not clear about the role the sinuses play in your body, the four pairs of sinuses can create a problem when they become inflamed. In normal cases, sinuses can make your skull lighter, make your voice louder, and prevent heat from escaping the head.

Sinus Headaches

When you suffer from inflammation due to infection or allergic reaction, it can swell. It also causes the accumulation of more mucus. It results in blocking of the channels that drain gets blocked. So, it results in the build-up of pressure in the sinuses leading to pain. The pain and discomfort causes are referred to as sinus headaches. You need treatment for the headache depending on the underlying cause. You can alleviate mild sinus easily at home with some simple remedies.

Symptoms Of Sinus Headaches

Your sinuses have a lining of the membrane that resembles the lining of the nose. When you suffer from allergy or infection, the membrane can swell up. So, it puts pressure on your cheeks, your forehead, and the bridge of your nose. You can see the swelling in these areas. It causes pain. At times, you can experience severe pain on both sides of your face. In most cases, infection results in the pain. The infection also is known as sinusitis can trigger sinus headaches. People suffering from the problem can also experience symptoms like:

  • Pressure or pain in cheeks, forehead, or brow
  • The feeling of fullness on the nose, forehead or cheeks
  • Pain worsens when you bend forward or lie down
  • Stuffy nose
  • Pain or achy feeling in your upper teeth
  • Fatigue
  • Achy feeling in your upper teeth

Is It Sinus Headaches Or Migraine?

Is It Sinus Headaches Or Migraine

Headaches are of different types. Though the headaches can have different signs, you can confuse headache due to sinusitis with migraine. It is because the signs and symptoms associated with the two types of headaches tend to overlap. The signs that are similar in both types of headache are:

  • Your headache worsens when you bend forward
  • Congestion
  • Feeling facial pressure
  • Nasal discharge (clear or watery)

The nasal signs may give you the idea that you have sinusitis. But, most people who see the doctor for headache due to sinusitis get diagnosed with migraines. Therefore, it is important to find the exact type of headache you suffer to get the ideal treatment. The symptoms of migraine that differs from sinusitis are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling aggravated by bright lights or noise

It is better to seek medical assistance to diagnose the problem properly.

Sinus headaches occur when you suffer from viral upper respiratory infection or cold. It can result in discolored, thick nasal mucus. You can also experience a decreased sense of smell. When you suffer from the condition, you also feel pain in upper teeth or one cheek. You feel the headache due to sinusitis for more than a few days or longer. Migraines occur only for a few hours to one or two days.

Causes Of Sinus Headaches

Inflammation of the tissue lining your sinuses results in sinus headaches. It is the primary cause of the headache. The inflammation of tissues can result in swelling as well as the production of secretions that clog the drainage system of the sinuses. So, it results in the build-up of secretions and fluid. The excess fluid accumulation can put pressure and lead to severe pain. The inflammation of the sinus is known as sinusitis. The inflammation of the tissue in your sinuses can arise due to the following reasons:

  • Irritation
  • Infection
  • Allergic reaction (like hay fever)

In most cases, the infection can lead to sinusitis. The most common cause of infectious sinusitis is due to a viral attack. But, bacteria or fungus can also trigger infections leading to headaches. The maxillary sinus is located in your cheekbone. So, infections of the upper teeth can spread to your sinuses, leading to infection. In rare cases, benign or malignant tumors can develop and block drainage in the sinuses. It can lead to sinus headache.

Risk Factors Associated With Sinus Headache

Anyone can get a sinus headache. But, some people are more prone to the problem compared to others. The factors influencing the possibility of the problem are:

  • Hormonal changes linked with headaches
  • A prior history of headaches or migraines
  • Have a family history of headaches or migraines

People coming under the above-mentioned categories need to maintain caution. They have higher chances of developing headaches due to sinus problems.

Diagnosing Sinus Headaches

If you have a mild case of headache due to sinus problem, then you can try some home remedies to get relief. But, if your headache lasts for more than two weeks, then see a doctor. It is also advisable to get your doctor’s opinion when you have a headache that interferes with your regular activities. If over the counter medications fails to offer relief, then seek the appointment of your doctor. Medical professionals can detect the problem and suggest an ideal solution. So, your doctor can use the following diagnostic techniques to determine the problem:

Physical Assessment

Different headaches have somewhat similar symptoms. So, it becomes hard to determine the exact type of headache you experience. Your doctor can ask questions about your medical history, the symptoms you suffer, and perform a physical assessment. Based on the assessment, your doctor can suggest the following tests.

CT Scan

Imaging tests like CT scan can provide comprehensive information on the exact reason causing your headaches. It offers cross-sectional x-ray images of your head and brain, including the sinuses. So, using the CT scan, your doctor can detect the issues in the sinuses.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

It is the sophisticated imaging test that uses radio waves and a magnetic field to generate cross-sectional images of your brain. It provides detailed information about the different structure within the brain. So, your doctor can look at the MRI scans to detect the presence of sinusitis.

Treatment For Sinus Headaches

Many people confuse the headache due to sinusitis with tension headaches. It is because you experience pain when you feel stressed out. But, your doctor can diagnose the headaches you classify as migraines or tension headaches as headaches due to sinus problems. Recurrent or severe pain can affect your normal functioning. Therefore, your doctor can suggest medication to offer relief and prevent it from getting worse. You need to understand that some of the medication suggested may not offer a complete cure. It can only reduce the symptoms associated with it. The following medication to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with the condition:

Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers

If you have mild headaches, then you can use over-the-counter medications. It will offer you relief from the throbbing pain in your head. You can take one of the following to get relief within a few minutes:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen
  • Naproxen sodium

OTC medication is not suitable for recurrent headaches or severe headaches.


An allergic reaction can cause your sinuses to block and result in inflammation. Therefore, you can take an antihistamine to overcome the allergic reaction. It can reduce the swelling of your sinuses.


It is the common mediation prescribed for people suffering from migraine attacks. The medication can relieve severe pain caused due to sinus headaches. It works by constricting the blood vessels. So, it blocks the pain pathways to your brain. As the brain fails to receive the pain signals, you may not feel it. Remember, it is not a cure for the problem. It only offers relief from severe pain. For effective pain management, your doctor prescribes taking triptans with naproxen sodium. It has proven results of relieving pain. So, the combination of medication works well compared to the use of a single medication.


A combination of ergotamine and caffeine drugs (Migergot, Cafergot) can help relieve pain. But, it is less effective compared to triptans. The medication is effective for people who suffer from pain for more than 72 hours. The medication is suitable for cluster headaches and migraines too.


It is the medication that is more effective than ergot. The medication is a derivative of ergot. But, causes fewer side effects. You can get the medication in injection or nasal spray form. The medication does not cause medication overuse headaches.


You can use steroid preparation to treat allergic sinusitis. While antibiotics can treat bacteria causing sinusitis.

Glucocorticoids (dexamethasone)

Glucocorticoids is an example of corticosteroid, which is used along with other medications to offer you relief from sinus headaches. The main goal of the medication is to offer pain relief. It can also reduce the swelling associated with the problem. So, by taking the medication, you can see the reduction of swelling of the mucous membranes. In some cases, it can reduce the nasal polyps causing the blockage of sinus drainage. But, it is not ideal for sinusitis caused due to virus or bacteria. Due to the risk associated with the medication, your doctor suggests using it for only a short period. The frequent use of the medication can result in steroid toxicity.

Surgery for Sinus Headache

In normal cases, you never need surgery for the headache caused by the sinus problem. But, people who suffer from severe and recurrent headaches need invasive surgery to widen the sinus openings. It is preferred when people have long-standing cases of infection as well as headaches. In such cases, normal methods fail to offer relief. Therefore, your doctor performs surgery to sinuses and promote drainage.

Home Remedies To Ease Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches can affect anyone at any time. You can try some simple strategies at home to minimize the pain and discomfort associated with the problem. So, try some home remedies that offer effectiveness:

Inhaling Steam

Dry sinuses or dry air can put pressure. It can result in sinus headaches and throbbing pain. Inhaling steam can reduce sinus pressure. The steam adds moisture to the air. So, inhaling it can add moisture to the sinus passage. It can thin out the mucus thickened over time. You can even take a hot shower to get relief. Inhale the steam produced by the hot water to reduce sinus pressure. Buy a humidifier for your home or office use to add moisture to the air. It is the ideal long-term relief solution.

Saline Flush

It is the common and effective treatment to reduce sinus pressure as well as congestion. The saline wash contains salt. So, it increases moisture content in your nose. It relieves the sinus pressure. You can either buy the saline spray from drugstore or use can make your own. Mix distilled water, iodine-free salt, and baking soda to make saline wash at home.

Good Resting

You need to rest your body at night to ensure good healing. When you sleep well, it stimulates your brain to release hormones . The specific hormone can encourage tissue growth. So, when you rest, your body produces more white blood cells. It can fight against attack from foreign bacteria or virus.

Good Resting

Before going to sleep, try to avoid overstimulation of your body. Therefore, try not to indulge in activities or drink beverage causing over stimulation. When you rest properly, it results in reducing sinus pressure. It also ensures a speedy recovery. With a good night’s sleep, you will feel refreshed.


Just as sleep is essential for healing, how you sleep can alleviate sinus symptoms. Lying flat can increase mucus buildup in your nasal passages, increase your sinus pressure, and disrupt your sleep cycle.

Enough Hydration

When you suffer from dehydration, it can make your sinus passages dry. The drying out of your sinuses can increase the pressure in the face. So, try to avoid dehydration by drinking water throughout the day. Drink at least 8-12 glasses of water. If you are feeling the weather, then you need to increase the water intake. Fluids will reduce the blockage in your sinuses. Water is the ideal choice to hydrate yourself. But, you can also drink other fluids and beverages to hydrate your body. So, include the following:

  • Tea
  • Broth soups
  • Ice cubes
  • Water-based fruits and vegetables

While you consume fluids, try not to overhydrate as it causes problems in your body.

Preventing Sinus Headaches

Everyone may not like to take preventive medications to treat headaches. So, you can make some lifestyle changes that can prove effective in reducing the number as well as the severity of the headache. So, try to implement the following in your daily life.

Avoid Triggers

Some people can get headaches with certain smells or foods. If you are one among them, then keep track of the food items or odors triggering the problem. Try to avoid them. So, limit the use of certain food and drinks like:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Products containing tobacco
  • Food containing MSG

Seasonal allergies or change in weather can also lead to headaches. Therefore, you need to observe the signs and try to prevent them.

Regular Pattern

You need to establish a routine in your life. It must consist of taking regular meals and having a regular sleep pattern. Try to eat food at the same time every day. You also need to have an uninterrupted sleep pattern. Sleeping for at least 8 hours every night can prevent sinus headaches.

Eliminate Stress

The headaches are common among people who have a highly stressful lifestyle. So, you need to eliminate stress. Stress is negative energy triggering several health complications. Therefore, adopt some relaxation techniques to eliminate the problem.

Include Physical Exercise

You need to include physical activities in your daily life. Aerobic exercises can improve blood circulation and reduce tension. So, it can help you prevent severe headaches. Try to include one of the following activities you enjoy:

  • Cycling
  • Walking
  • Swimming

While exercising, try not to perform intense workouts all of a sudden. You need to ease your body into the physical routine. So, warm up slowly and increase the intensity. The sudden, intense physical workouts can trigger headaches.


Excess body weight is also a major factor in triggering headaches. So, you need to drop some weight to avoid the discomfort associated with the problem. Try to eat a well-balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight. Exercising can help maintain a healthy weight. If the workout routine is not showing effect, then try to uncover the problem.

Reduce Estrogen Consumption

Menopause can cause serious problems in a woman’s body. So, doctors suggest taking estrogen pills to ease the symptoms. But, estrogen can trigger headaches. So, you need to reduce the effects of estrogen. Talk to your doctor about reducing the dose of medication or look for alternative methods to avoid the medication completely. Therefore, people taking the following medications need to find the perfect alternative to deal with the underlying health problem:


You can suffer from sinus headaches due to the sinus inflammation. You can suffer from severe symptoms due to ignoring it. It is because the sinuses in your body are close to your brain. Any infection or inflammation troubling the sinuses can pass to your central nervous system. So, seek treatment from your doctor if you see no improvement in your headaches. In most of the cases, sinus headaches can alleviate with simple home remedies. But, see a doctor if you see no improvement. It is also essential to identify the specific headache you suffer. You can confuse the headaches due to sinuses infection with migraine. Since the two conditions require different types of treatment, you need to get professional help for proper diagnosis. People with confusing symptoms need to get medical assistance to identify the problem and get the necessary treatment to alleviate the condition.

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