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What Is a Sinus Headache?

How can you distinguish between a regular and a sinus-induced headache?

Sinus problems can be a real nuisance. While a stuffy nose, congestion and facial pressure may be part of the package, you may not realize that sinus problems could also be responsible for your headaches. If you are dealing with persistent or regular headaches, and you are also dealing with sinus issues, your headaches could be due to your sinuses. If this is the case, an ENT doctor can help you treat this common problem.

What causes a sinus headache?

When the nasal passages become congested, a sinus headache can start brewing. You may notice that you develop more sinus headaches during times of the year when your allergies flare up, or you may find that your headaches accompany a sinus infection. Along with allergies, other problems that could trigger a sinus headache include,

  • Nasal polyps
  • Deviated septum
  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infection (rare)

What are the signs of a sinus headache?

Along with inflamed sinuses, symptoms of a sinus headache are different from that of a tension headache. Signs of a sinus headache include,

  • Nasal congestion
  • Stuffy nose or runny nose
  • Lack of smell
  • Facial pressure often in the forehead
  • Facial pain that gets worse when leaning over
  • Yellow nasal discharge

How a sinus headache is treated will differ from migraines, so it’s essential to spot the differences. If you develop a severe headache accompanied by dizziness, sensitivity to light or sound, nausea, vomiting or auras, these are telltale signs that you’re dealing with a migraine and not a sinus headache.

How is a sinus headache treated?

While most sinus infections will resolve without treatment, an ENT doctor will be able to provide you with lifestyle changes, medication options and other remedies that could ease your headache and other symptoms until the infection resolves itself. Some ways to treat sinus headaches include,

  • Home remedies such as Neti Pot, saline irrigation, steam and a warm compress
  • Over-the-counter medications such as decongestants and pain medications
  • Prescription medications include antihistamines, decongestants and nasal steroids
  • Alternative treatment options such as essential oils, homeopathy, acupuncture and herbs

If headaches have become the norm, you may be surprised to discover that your sinuses are to blame. Of course, to get your headaches under control, you should also get your sinus problems under control. For that, you’ll want to turn to an otolaryngologist.

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