How to Get Rid of a Sinus Headache
Have you ever felt a headache with pain around your eyes? You might be experiencing a sinus headache. In the United States, there are around 30 million adults found to have sinusitis, and most of them have accompanying sinus headaches. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses — extra-cranial cavities in the head and face that collect air, tissue, and other secretions to keep the nose moist and cold. When the sinuses become inflamed, the sinus pressure can lead to sinus headaches as well. Sinus headaches are also known as sinus pressure headaches because the sinuses are filled with mucus and air and are accompanied by pain and pressure around the eyes or nose.
Sinus headaches are one of the common types of headaches, so it’s important you know about them. This article will discuss what it is, how it occurs, how we can prevent it, and how to get rid of a sinus headache.
What Is a Sinus Headache?
Sinus headaches are a common condition that can affect the sinuses, which are cavities located behind the forehead and around the eyes. The sinuses are filled with mucus and air, which causes pressure on the brain when it becomes too full. This can cause pain, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.
What Are the Causes?
The most common cause of sinus headaches is sinusitis or inflammation of the sinuses. Sinusitis can occur due to different causes. Causes of a sinus headache include viral infections, nasal congestion, or allergies. One of the most known contributing factors to sinus headaches is allergic rhinitis. The most common causes of sinus headaches are colds or allergies — but they can also be associated with migraines, chronic sinus infection, or other medical conditions. A sinus headache occurs when an offending agent (for example, bacteria or an allergen) enters the nasal passages and reaches the sinuses, causing an immune response leading to inflammation of the lining in the sinuses. This leads to swelling and pressure build-up in the skull, leading to sinus pain or a headache.
What Are the Symptoms?
Sinus headaches can have various symptoms. Symptoms can last for several days to a week. In other cases, it may last longer. Here are some of the symptoms one can experience if they have a sinus headache.
- Headache associated with pain in the bones at the temple or at the sides of your head (sinus pain)
- Pressure or pain in one or both eyes or at the front of the face (sinus pain)
- Fullness or pressure in the cheeks or forehead (sinus pain)
- Nasal congestion or a feeling that something is blocking your nose
- Nasal discharge that can be clear, yellow, or green
- Watery eyes
How Is a Sinus Headache Different from Other Types of Headaches?
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Sinus headaches can present like other types of headaches. The most common type of headache confused with sinus headaches is migraines. Migraines can also have that feeling of fullness, and pressure in the skull that can mimic sinus pain. They may also present with watery eyes and nasal congestion, so how will you be able to differentiate the two? In general, headaches can be differentiated based on the location of the headache. Sinus headache would present with pain in the frontal area: in the forehead, around the eyes, or nose. Migraines are associated with nausea, light sensitivity, and an inability to function which can affect daily work or routine. Migraines are also associated with factors such as weather changes, menstruation, and stress.
How Can You Get Rid of a Sinus Headache?
Because a sinus headache presents with sinus pain, sinus swelling, and inflammation of nasal passages and the sinus lining, it is important to address these conditions to relieve sinus headaches. You can get rid of a sinus headache using either home remedies, medications, or a combination of both.
Medications used to relieve sinus headaches include a decongestant. These can be in the form of nasal corticosteroid sprays or systemic medications. The effects from nasal sprays are not immediate and sometimes around a month of use is needed to see significant changes.
If the symptoms suggest a bacterial infection, sinus headaches will improve once an antibacterial regimen is started. Changes in symptoms can be seen as early as three days if responsive to treatment. Consult a doctor first if you think you would need antibiotics.
Symptomatic treatment of the headache includes giving pain medications like ibuprofen or similar medications used to treat migraine.
Depending on the severity, sinus headaches may not necessarily need medications. Some home remedies can help relieve sinus pressure and sinus swelling.
Dry air can contribute to the increase in sinus pressure, so providing moisture in the nasal passages can reduce sinus swelling. This can be done through steaming or saline flush. Hydration is also important to prevent nasal passages from drying out. Resting also works wonders as it gives the body time to recuperate and sinus swelling to subside. Other activities that are found to reduce sinus pressure include exercise, yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques.
How Can You Prevent It?
You can prevent a sinus headache by doing the following:
- Keeping yourself hydrated: To prevent drying your sinuses, hydration is important. A nasal lubricant spray can help to make sure your nasal passages are hydrated as well.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol: These can trigger headaches and lead to dehydration so it is best to avoid them.
- Stay away from stress: Stress can trigger headaches and lower your immune system predisposing you to sinusitis.
- Stay away from dust and make sure the air in your surrounding is clean: Dust and smoke can cause allergen triggers that lead to sinusitis so it is best to avoid these. Dirty air may also cause infections. Make sure your home is clean and well-ventilated. Having an air purifier can also help.
Sinus headaches are common but they are also very easy to treat. If you are experiencing a recurring sinus headache that lasts for more than 10 days every month despite doing home remedies and medications, it is important to consult with your doctor.
- Healthline (How to relieve sinus pressure: 7 natural home remedies)
- MayoClinic (Sinus headache: A neurology, otolaryngology, allergy, and primary care)
- CDC (FastStats - sinus conditions)
- NIH (Sinus headaches: avoiding over- and mis-diagnosis)
- Springer Nature (“Sinus Headache”: Diagnosis and Dilemma?? An Analytical and Prospective Study)
- NIH (Debunking Myths: Sinus Headache)
- NIH (Sinusitis and headache)
- Springer Nature (Etiology of 'Sinus Headache'-Moving the Focus from Rhinology to Neurology. A Systematic Review)