Chronic Pain > Headaches > Sinus Headaches



Sinus headaches are no joke. They are really painful and terribly uncomfortable. They occur when the sinuses, aka the paranasal sinuses, air-filled spaces within the nasal cavity that lie in the bones of the skull and face, become congested. During a cold or an allergy attack, the sinuses can get blocked by mucus and become inflamed or even infected.  However, sinus headaches can also be caused by bacterial or fungal infections, changes in atmospheric pressure and, in some cases, even injury to the sinus cavity or the nose.

Common symptoms of a sinus headache include:

  • Pain, pressure and/or feeling of a fullness in your cheeks, brow or forehead
  • Worsening pain when you bend foreword or lie down
  • Nasal discharge that’s yellow-green (or even blood-tinged)
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Malaise (general sense of feeling unwell)
  • Red and swollen nasal passages
  • Postnasal drip, etc.

Diagnosing a sinus headache is fairly simple. Your doctor will take a detailed history to determine if this is a sinus headache or a different type of headache. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms. He/she will also check on your symptoms and check your nose for your discharge, probably by using a flashlight of some sort. He or she will tap on your nose and cheeks to check for tenderness.

If a diagnosis is unclear, the doctor may order a CT scan or X-rays to be sure. At this point, if you do indeed have a sinus headache, then you and your doctor will discuss treatment options. The best way to eradicate that sinus headache is by getting rid of the underlying infection. To do that, you will need to take antibiotics such as Zithromax (Z pack) or Amoxicillin.

To temporarily relieve the discomfort of the sinus headache, you can take over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, decongestants and saline nasal sprays. You should also drink plenty of fluids and consider using a dehumidifier to help alleviate your congestion. Get ample rest and follow your doctor’s instructions. Once the infection goes away, your headache should disappear too.

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