Sinus Headaches – The Facts

Sinus Headaches are very common and usually follow an infection or allergy. We have four pairs of sinuses which are situated above the eyes, in between the eyes at the bridge of the nose and over the cheeks. A sinus headache can be felt along any of these areas and can also affect either one or both sides of the face. Treatment usually involves tackling the initial cause.

 

Symptoms

If someone has an infection or allergy, this can cause the sinus membrane to swell up, resulting in a feeling of pressure and/or pain over the face and the beginnings of a headache. The pain will be in the cheeks or above the eyes or nose and these areas may appear swollen.

Sinusitis is an infection that can trigger sinus headaches. A sufferer may have a fever, a blocked nose, green or yellow mucus from either the nose or down the back of the throat (catarrh or postnasal drip) and a lowered sense of smell. The pain may increase after sneezing, coughing or bending down. The severity of the symptoms depends on whether the infection is caused by a virus (such as after a common cold) or bacteria, and how long it has been building for.

 

Treatment

Medication – If the sinus headache is mild it can be treated at home by simply drinking plenty of fluid and taking painkillers. If the pain is more severe then the sufferer will need to see a doctor. Decongestants may be issued for treatment and antibiotics could be prescribed to tackle the infection.  If allergies are the cause, then you may be given a nasal spray containing steroids or antihistamines.

Surgery – If the sinus headaches are persistent over a few months then you may be referred to an ear nose and throat specialist who will go through your symptoms and medical history, undertake a careful examination of the nose and sinuses with a nasal endoscope, and perhaps arrange a CT scan of the sinuses. Some patients may need surgery to widen the sinuses. In many cases this can be done in a relatively straightforward and minimally invasive way using surgical balloons to treat the problem (balloon sinuplasty).

Home Remedies – You could try breathing in steam to open the sinuses which can relieve pressure. Put your face over a bowl of boiled water, cover your head with a towel and slowly breath through your nose. You can use plain steam or add a few drops of menthol or eucalyptus. You can also use a salt water solution to clean your nasal passage, which can help to drain the mucus from the sinuses. A warm wash cloth placed against the sinus areas for a few minutes three times a day can also be soothing.