Sinus Headaches? Important Facts You Should Know

The air-filled cavities inside your head, cheeks, and behind the bridge of the nose are known as sinuses. When they become inflamed, usually as a result of an allergic response or an infection, they enlarge, produce extra mucus, and the draining channels might become clogged.

The tension in your sinuses builds up, causing pain that seems like a headache.

Is It A Sinus Infection or A Migraine?

Migraines and sinusitis headaches are easily confused because the clinical signs of both types of headaches can be similar.

When you bend forward, the pain can become worse for both migraine and sinusitis headaches. Numerous nasal symptoms, such as congestion, face pressure, and a transparent, watery nasal discharge, can accompany migraine. These are caused by the autonomic nervous system’s involvement in a migraine attack. In fact, research suggests that 90% of people who visit the doctor with sinus headaches are actually suffering from migraines.

Sinusitis, on the other hand, isn’t frequently accompanied by nausea or vomiting, nor is it increased by noise or strong light, as is the case with migraines.

Sinusitis is characterized by thick, discolored nasal mucus, a diminished sense of smell, as well as a pain inside one cheek or upper teeth. It usually starts just after a viral upper respiratory illness or cold. Sinus headaches can linger for days or even weeks, while migraines can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

Sinus Headaches


You’ll have a severe and persistent ache in your cheeks, forehead, or nose bridge. When you turn your head rapidly or strain, the discomfort usually worsens. You may also experience additional sinus issues, such as:

  • A stuffy nose.
  • A feeling of fullness in your ears.
  • Fever.
  • A swollen face.

Sinus headaches are frequently confused with other types of persistent headaches, such as migraines or tension headaches. Because the medication you require depends on what type of headache you experience, determining your symptoms is critical. You’ll most likely develop a fever if you have a sinus blockage or an infection.

Your doctor can usually detect if your sinus is obstructed based on your symptoms and a medical examination, but in some circumstances, CT or MRI scans may be required.

Read more: Acetylcysteine For Sinus Conditions


The aim is usually to alleviate your symptoms and, if necessary, to treat an infection. Antibiotics, antihistamines, and decongestants may be prescribed for a brief period of time. Inhaled nasal decongestants can also be used, but only for up to three days. Longer use may exacerbate your problems.

You can also take pain medication, but if that doesn’t work, your doctor might prescribe corticosteroids to help with the nasal inflammation. If your nasal flare-ups are caused by an allergic reaction, you may require antihistamines.

Simple at-home remedies, including drinking extra fluids, using a humidifier, or using a saltwater nasal spray, can also help you feel better.

A bioelectric sinus tool that emits small waveforms can also be used to treat nasal pain and pressure. The device’s currents target blood arteries and nerves to relieve nasal congestion and pain, and it’s available over the counter. Medication overuse headaches can occur if you take decongestants and pain relievers too frequently. If you’ve been using medicine to ease your headaches for a long period, it’s crucial to check in with your doctor. Decongestants can also raise blood pressure, so see your doctor before taking one if you have hypertension.

They may suggest sinus surgeries to correct polyps or start opening narrow or chronically swollen sinuses in rare circumstances.

Sinus Headaches and Allergies

Have you ever heard that sinus headaches are caused by allergies? It’s not quite that straightforward.

Allergies can result in sinus inflammation, which can induce headaches. Allergy treatment can help with congestion, but it won’t help with headache pain. The two disorders are usually treated independently. Consult your doctor to ensure you receive the proper treatment.

Sinus Headaches And Their Treatment

The treatment for a sinus headache is determined by the cause.

Many sinusitis cases can be helped with over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. If a person is suffering from a viral disease, OTC pain relievers, and cold drugs can help reduce pain and relieve a clogged or runny nose. If your headache is caused by allergies, OTC antihistamines may help.

People may also be eligible to purchase OTC nasal sprays that contain saline or steroids to cleanse the nasal passages. People should not, however, take steroid sprays for an extended period of time without first consulting a doctor.

Treatments With A Prescription

If over-the-counter remedies are ineffective, a doctor may recommend decongestant medicine. Antihistamines or steroids in a nasal spray can help with allergies by reducing inflammation as well as other symptoms.

Antibiotics may be prescribed if bacterial infections do not resolve on their own. However, this will not work with a viral infection. Furthermore, many sinus infections resolve without the use of antibiotics.

Unnecessary antibiotic use can result in serious adverse effects as well as bacterial resistance. Before taking them, a doctor may advise delaying to see how a person’s symptoms improve.

Procedures In Medicine

A doctor may recommend someone to an ENT specialist if they have had sinus pain or sinusitis for several months.

The ENT will inquire about the patient’s symptoms, obtain medical records, and check the nose and face. They may also use an X-ray, computerized tomography, as well as MRI scan to take photographs of the head to evaluate if the symptoms are due to a structural issue.

If the ENT believes it would be useful, they may suggest functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS). FESS entails either removing tissue that has caused a blockage in the sinuses or inflating a little balloon to open the passageways. The balloon is subsequently deflated by a doctor.