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Sinus Headache: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Aug 09, 2023

Sinus Headache

The sinus headache results from blocked sinus passages behind your eyes, nose, cheeks, and forehead, that causes pressure and anguish. Sinus headaches may affect one or both sides of your head.

Although they are not common, true sinus headaches can have a similar pain to other headache types. The sinuses become swollen due to a sinus infection, often known as sinusitis or sinus headache.

Sinus headaches may be seasonal if you have allergies; if they are just sometimes, they may be due to another cause. Natural remedies, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and prescription pharmaceuticals can all be used to treat sinus headaches. 

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Causes Of Sinus Headache

Because sinus headaches are directly caused by sinusitis, their causes and triggers are similar. These incorporate:

  • Viral infection. The most typical reason for sinusitis and sinus headaches is viral infection. In around 90% of cases, sinusitis symptoms develop after a cold.
  • Infection caused by bacteria. This frequently happens following a viral infection and may lengthen the course of the illness' symptoms.
  • Fungus infection. Immunocompromised individuals could experience this more frequently.
  • Allergies that are seasonal. The sinuses may swell as a result of persistent allergies. This condition is referred to as rhinitis or hay fever.
  • Structural difference. The sinuse’s ability to drain effectively might be hampered by conditions like nasal polyps, swollen adenoids, or a deviated septum.

Symptoms Of Sinus Headache

You'll experience moderate to severe pain across the front of your face around the sinus area when you have a sinus headache, which is particularly noticeable. The hollow areas behind your forehead, cheeks, nasal bridge, and eyes are called the sinuses, which aid in the production of mucus.

Constant throbbing, dull, or gnawing sinus headaches might worsen throughout the course of the day. Moving your head, bending down, or lying down may make this pain worse.

In addition to the typical pain associated with a sinus headache, numerous patients also mention having:

  • Facial pressure
  • Congested nose
  • A stuffy or runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Eye swelling or redness
  • Nasal bleeding
  • Fever

These symptoms could just affect one side or area of the face, or they may effect both sides of the face equally.

Diagnosis Of Sinus Headache

Many sinus headaches are actually misdiagnosed by sufferers themselves, which means that occasionally, what you may think is a sinus headache may actually be another form of headache or disease, such as a migraine.

Before conducting a physical examination during a scheduled appointment, the doctor will inquire about your symptoms and medical background. Included in diagnostic procedures are:

Your sinuses will be checked for any swelling or soreness using a finger tap on the area around the sinus cavity. They will also use a small, light gadget to see inside your sinus cavities through your nose.

Obtaining a sample of any mucus: If a sinus infection is suspected, the mucus will be examined for bacteria and, occasionally, fungi.

To rule out more serious conditions including blockages, tumours, or bleeding around the brain, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging can provide a better picture inside the sinus cavities.

You being referred for allergy testing. Your doctor will want to rule out any possibility that your sinus headache symptoms, such as discomfort and nasal congestion, are the result of allergies.

The International Headache Society provides detailed guidelines for identifying sinus headaches. In accordance with their recommendations, a headache must be brought on by either acute or chronic/recurrent rhinosinusitis in order to be classified as a sinus headache. You would also need to fulfil a few other important requirements, such experiencing more pain when the sinus region is pressed.

Also Read : Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Treatment Of Sinus Headache

Determine whether your symptoms are truly sinus headaches and not those of another headache kind or disease before beginning any at-home therapies.

Options for treatment to lessen the discomfort of a sinus infection, particularly the severe headache that might accompany it, may include

  • Antibiotics on prescription (for a sinus infection caused by bacteria)
  • Decongestants
  • Antihistamines (for a headache in the sinuses caused by allergies)
  • Nasal irrigation with steam
  • Avoiding all allergies
  • (In extreme instances) Surgery to remove obstructions or polyps

Once your sinus infection symptoms have started to lessen or after you've finished a good round of antibiotics, a sinus headache and any accompanying facial pain or pressure should go away within a week. If you discover that you're still in pain after that time of period, then you need to consult with the doctor again.

Prevention Of Sinus Headache

The majority of sinus headaches are caused by rhinosinusitis, thus the best way to prevent them is to maintain good sinus health both on a regular basis and when you're sick with an infection or respiratory ailment.

Experts advise, for instance, that you take the following actions:

  • Making use of a saline nasal spray to open up the nasal passageways and minimize swelling.
  • Avoiding any triggers or allergies.
  • Whenever necessary, utilise over-the-counter drugs such as antihistamines or decongestants.
  • Using a humidifier in your house, particularly in the bedroom.
  • You can aid your body's ability to fight infections by staying hydrated and getting enough of sleep.
  • Compressing the sinus area with a warm cloth.
  • To prevent the spread of germs, especially during the cold and flu season, wash your hands frequently.

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