Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches are classified as secondary headaches, meaning that there is some underlying problem that causes the headache. Unlike migraine headaches and tension headaches, which are primary, the treatment of the underlying cause is the best way to alleviate the pain and pressure of a sinus headache.

Many people confuse sinus headaches with other types of headaches, such as migraine or tension headaches. Sinus headaches are specifically associated with swelling and congestion of the sinuses due to sinusitis, or infection of one or more sinus cavities. Migraines and tension headaches may also have sinus type symptoms. The key to relieving the pain of a sinus headache is proper headache diagnosis and headache treatment.

Studies have shown that many patients diagnosed with sinus headaches actually have headaches, which cause referred pain to the sinus areas but are not caused by actual sinus problems.

Symptoms

Unlike migraine headaches, sinus headaches are not usually exacerbated by bright lights or associated with nausea and vomiting. Some of the symptoms of a sinus headache include:

  • Pain and pressure in cheeks and forehead
  • Increased pain when you lie down
  • Sore throat
  • Thick yellow nasal discharge
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Cough

Causes

Sinusitis or inflammation of sinus membranes can be brought on by any number of things, including:

  • Colds
  • Allergies
  • Fungal infection
  • Bacterial infection
  • CPAP or BIPAP use especially with high pressures or improperly cleaned equipment

People who suffer from a broken nose, deviated septums, enlarged turbinates or other structural defect of the sinuses may experience sinusitis on a regular basis.

You may be more susceptible to sinusitis and the associated sinus headaches if you suffer from one or more of the following conditions:

  • Polyps
  • Asthma
  • allergies
  • Poor immune system
  • Respiratory problems

Treatment

Acute sinusitis is a one-time sinus inflammation, as opposed to a chronic sinus condition. Treatment for acute sinusitis may include:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-fungal medication
  • Nasal irrigation

Patients are frequently treated for sinus infections without cultures, and often there is no infection but the pain is referred from teeth and or jaw muscles. Frequently, a vacuum sinusitis can occur due to failure of the ability to control sinus openings. Frequent use of antibiotics can predispose patients to fungal infections in their sinus cavities.

Chronic sinusitis is a recurring condition that may be treated in the following manner:

  • Nasal irrigation is an excellent approach for patients wanting to avoid excessive medication usage
  • Surgery
  • Culturing sinuses and using antibacterials or antifungals that specifically address the causative microbes

Typically, less invasive procedures are tried first prior to opting for surgery, but in some cases, surgery may be indicated right away.   It has been said “There is no disease or disorder known to man that can’t be made worse by sticking a knife in it”  This quote points out the risks invariably associated with surgery.  It does not mean to avoid surgery but rather to approach surgical procedures in an informed and careful manner recognizing the risks and balancing them to the expected benefits.

If you suffer from chronic sinusitis, you can take the following precautions to minimize the reoccurrence:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid irritants like cigarette smoke
  • Humidify your air to keep your nasal passages moist

If you have a cold and suffer from sinus pressure in your head, which worsens when you lay down, you may have a sinus headache. To alleviate the symptoms, it is best to seek medical attention to address the underlying cause. Headaches, however, are frequently attributed to other factors that are not related and it is best to seek medical advice to get a proper diagnoses.

Contact our iHATEheadaches doctors for more information on sinus headaches and treatment. We can help alleviate your pain!

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