Sinus headaches: Symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatments

2021-09-07 03:16 PM

Sinus headaches are associated with sinusitis, a condition in which the membranes lining the sinuses become swollen and inflamed. Sinusitis can be caused by a cold, a bacterial or fungal infection, a weakened immune system, or structural problems in the nasal cavity.

Define

A sinus headache is a headache that can be accompanied by sinusitis, a condition in which the lining of the sinuses becomes swollen and inflamed. You may feel pressure around your eyes, cheeks, and forehead. Although it may present only with a sinus headache, many people find a sinus headache with a migraine or tension headache.

Sinus headaches: Symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatments

Sinus headaches: Symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatments 

When sinus headaches from sinusitis occur, proper diagnosis and treatment are keys to relief.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of a sinus headache may include:

Pain or pressure in the eyebrows, cheeks or forehead.

Pain may be worse when bending forward or lying down.

Nasal discharge that is yellow-green or tinged with blood.

Sore throat.

Fever.

Cough.

Tired.

Pain in the upper teeth.

Headache or migraine.

It's important to note that it's possible to confuse migraines with sinus headaches. This is because the signs and symptoms of the two types of headaches overlap. Research shows that 90 percent of people with "sinus headaches" actually have migraines.

As with sinus headaches, migraines are often worse when bending forward, and migraines can be accompanied by various nasal signs and symptoms - including congestion, pressure face, and runny nose.

However, sinus headaches are often not accompanied by nausea or vomiting or are aggravated by noise or light - all common features of migraines.

Consult your doctor if:

Symptoms persist for more than 10 days.

The headache is severe, and painkillers don't help.

Have a fever higher than 380C.

Causes

Sinus headaches are associated with sinusitis, a condition in which the membranes lining the sinuses become swollen and inflamed. Sinusitis can be caused by a cold, a bacterial or fungal infection, a weakened immune system, or structural problems in the nasal cavity. Changes in pressure to the sinuses can cause headaches.

Risk factors

Sinusitis can affect anyone. You may be more likely to develop chronic sinusitis if you have:

Asthma.

Nasal polyps.

Allergy to mold, dust or pollen.

Weakened immune system.

Problems affecting the way mucus moves in the respiratory system, such as cystic fibrosis.

First or previous exposure to tobacco smoke.

Tests and diagnostics

The cause of a headache can be difficult to determine. The doctor will ask questions about the headache and do a physical exam. Be sure to mention if you've had a cold recently, if you have allergies, and if you smoke. These factors may precipitate or contribute to acute sinusitis.

Your doctor may perform one of these tests to determine if you have sinusitis:

Nasal endoscopy. Your doctor may use a small tube with a light (endoscope) to examine your nose.

Check mucus. Your doctor may also test mucus samples from the inside of your nose for evidence of a fungal or bacterial infection.

Check pictures. Examples include CT or MRI. CT uses a computer to create horizontal images of the brain and head (including the sinuses) by combining images from x-rays that rotate around the body. With an MRI, a magnetic field and radio waves are used to create horizontal images of structures inside the brain.

Treatments and drugs

If diagnosed with sinusitis, your doctor may recommend:

Antibiotics. Be sure to finish the entire prescribed dose - even if symptoms and signs go away before all the medicine has been finished. This is the only way to kill the pathogenic bacteria.

Corticosteroid nasal sprays or tablets. Your doctor may prescribe this medication if your sinusitis is related to inflammation or allergies.

Other drugs. When you have a sinus infection, you should relieve sinus headaches. Pain relievers, decongestants, and saline nasal sprays can help you feel better. Use these products only as directed. It may be better to drink more water.

Corrective surgery. If a structural problem in the nasal cavity is contributing to or causing sinus headaches, orthopedic surgery may be recommended.

Prevention

To reduce your risk of sinusitis:

Wash your hands often. Soap and water can help ward off upper respiratory infections that can lead to sinusitis. You can ask your doctor about the annual flu shot.

Avoid stimulants. Avoid cigarettes and cigars. Other air pollution can cause sinus membrane edema.

Use a humidifier. Adding extra humidity to dry the air in your home can help prevent sinusitis - but don't overdo it. High indoor humidity can promote mold and dust growth in the home. Make sure the humidity is kept clean and mold-free.