Sinus headaches will accompany sinusitis, or sinus infection. Sinusitis is a medical condition in which your sinus membranes become swollen and inflamed.
The signs and symptoms of a sinus headache are pain and pressure or fullness experienced in your cheeks, brow or forehead. The pain may worsen if you bend forward or lie down. You may notice yellow-green or blood-tinged nasal discharge. Your throat may be sore and you may have a cough. You may have an elevated body temperature and feel fatigued.
Not be Confused With
Individuals often confuse sinus headaches with tension headaches or even migraines as the symptoms are similar. Individuals who have sinus headaches usually do not have the nausea or vomiting or sensitivity to light those migraine sufferers will have.
A sinus headache can be preceded by a cold, by allergies, or a bacterial or fungal infection. Individuals who have impaired immune systems, or structural problems in the nasal cavity may have frequent sinus headaches. Pressure changes can also trigger a sinus headache.
Risk factors for sinus headaches, especially chronic sinus headaches are those who have asthma, those who have nasal growths also called polyps, those who are allergic to dust, mold or pollens, and those with a weakened immune system.
Individuals who have conditions that affect the way mucus moves through the respiratory systems, such as those with cystic fibrosis are also prone to sinus headaches.
When to Go to the Doctor
You will need to seek medical attention if your symptoms last longer than 10 days, you have a severe headache, or over-the-counter pain medication does not help to relieve the pain or if you have a fever that registers greater than 100.5 F (38 C).
It is not always easy to determine if what you have is a sinus headache or another kind of headache. Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and duration of the headache.
The doctor will perform a physical examination of your nasal passages and may press down on your sinus areas of your face to see if there are any tender areas. The doctor may use an endoscope to look up into your nasal passages with a light. The doctor may order a CT or MRI scan.
If the doctor diagnosiss sinusitis and the cause of your headache is a sinus headache, you will be given medication to take. It is important to take the medication as prescribed for the entire period of time it is prescribed for in order to completely clear up your condition. You may be given a prescription for a nasal spray. As the sinus infection clears up your sinus headache will go away too.
When you first notice the symptoms of a sinus headache it may help to drink lots of water, use over-the-counter pain relievers, decongestants and saline nasal spray.
If your doctor determines that the cause of your sinusitis/sinus headache is a structural problem in your nasal passages, you may be recommended for surgery to correct the condition.
You can prevent sinus headaches by washing your hands with soap and water to avoid upper respiratory infections that may turn into sinusitis. It may be helpful to receive a flu shot every year, ask your doctor about this preventative method.
It is important to avoid substances that irritate your sinuses such as cigarette smoke, cigar and pipe smoke, and air pollutants including perfumes and pollens. It may be helpful to use a humidifier so that moisture can be added to dry indoor air and help to prevent sinusitis. To not get your indoor humidity too high though as that will promote the growth of mold and dust mites in your home. If using a humidifier you must make sure that it is clean and that it is free of mold.