Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches are headaches that may feel like an infection in the sinuses. Anything that causes mucus and pressure to build up in the sinuses can lead to a sinus infection. Some common ways people get sinus headaches are:

  • Colds or seasonal allergies are often to blame.
  • Headaches can also come from nasal polyps in the nose or sinuses. Polyps can block mucus from draining.
  • If you have a deviated septum, it can prevent mucus from properly draining. Too much mucus gives bacteria an opportunity to grow. As germs build up, they irritate the sinuses. Then, the sinus tissue swells, blocking the passage of mucus. These irritated sinuses filled with liquid or pressure make your face feel tender and achy, causing sinus headaches.

Between 70-80 percent of Americans experience sinus headaches, with more than half of the population reporting that they get at least one headache a month, 15 percent at least with one headache per week, and 5 percent with a daily headache. 

While most headaches are not an indication of a serious or life-threatening illness, they often can be brought on by allergies or sinus infections. 

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Types of Sinus Headaches

There are different types of sinus headaches that people suffer from:

Rhinitis: For those who suffer from allergies, rhinitis (headaches with hay fever) are common and may be brought on by sinus disease in and around the nasal passage.

Sinusitis: Sinusitis can cause headaches in which the sinus becomes inflamed from an infection and causes pressure behind the eyes, nose, cheeks and forehead. Acute sinusitis occurs when there is a bacterial infection in one or more of the sinuses in your head. 

Migraine: Recent studies show that those who appear to have sinus headaches frequently suffer from migraines. A migraine is a headache variation often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. According to the American Migraine Foundation, 50 percent of migraine misdiagnoses start with a person thinking they have a sinus headache. 

Sinus Headache Symptoms

Sinus headaches can be a symptom of sinus infections, which cause pressure and pain in your face. Additional sinus headache symptoms include: 

  • An uncomfortable pain or pressure behind your forehead
  • Pain getting worse when you lean forward
  • Green or yellow nasal discharge
  • Fatigue or aching in your top jaw
  • Redness and swelling of the cheeks, nose or forehead, facial pain

Often, a sinus headache is actually a migraine with nasal symptoms, talk with your doctor to help you find long-term relief.

Treatments and Relief

If you suspect you may have a sinus infection or sinusitis, consult with your doctor to determine the best course of action. Most sinus infections are easily treated with antibiotics, decongestants, or nasal steroids. 

A large percentage of people with self-diagnosed sinus headaches suffer from migraines, which is why it is important to see a specialist to receive an accurate diagnosis. Research also supports a correlation between migraines and allergies, so your physician will consider both migraine headache and sinus headache if you are experiencing headaches and allergic rhinitis.  

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To meet with our highly-skilled team to discuss your deviated septum symptoms at Sierra Nevada Ear Nose & Throat, please give us a call or schedule an appointment at one of our three locations.