We have often heard about sinuses and many people of various age groups have experienced Sinus headaches at least one, or several times. Let’s start with a brief introduction of the sinus.
In medical terms, sinuses are defined as the air-filled cavities especially in the bones of the skull. This skull performs various roles, one of which is humidifying air and secreting mucus to help with air filtration. The sinus is located inside your forehead, cheekbones, and behind the bridge of your nose.
Well, these air-filled cavities can cause headaches and other concerns are related to them. One of the common concern is a Sinus headache. Let’s begin with the introduction of sinus headaches.
What Are Sinus Headaches?
When the air filled cavities get inflamed due to allergic reactions or an infection, more mucus is produced followed by swelling. This led to the blockage of the draining channel. Thus the pressure is building up inside your channels and you start suffering from sinus headaches.
Sinus headaches are in some ways, identical to migraine headaches, in which the person suffers a great deal of pain in areas especially on the forehead, cheeks and upper teeth. Sinus headaches in the same medical terminology signify headaches that may feel like an infection in the sinuses. In such a case, the person may feel pressure around the eyes, cheeks and the forehead.
Let’s take a look at some Sinus Causing Factors:
Causes of Sinus Headaches – Sinus Vs Migraine
Your sinus can become a Migraine though they both differ in symptoms and causes.
Migraines and Sinus headaches occur by the inflammation of sinuses (called sinusitis). These two are often easy to get confused because the signs and symptoms of both may overlap.
A Migraine can also be accompanied by congestion, facial pressure, and a watery discharge from the nasal. Studies have shown, approximately 90 percent of people who see a doctor suspecting of having sinus headaches are often found to have migraines instead.
Sinus headaches are usually not associated with nausea or vomiting or aggravated by noise or bright light, which are all common signs of migraines.
It usually occurs after a viral upper respiratory infection or cold and may include thick, discolored mucus in the nasal, decreased sense of smell and pain in either one cheek or upper teeth. A headache due to sinus often lasts for a couple of days, or in some cases, it may even take longer.
Sinus headaches often become worse when you bend forward. On the other hand, migraine headaches commonly last from a few hours to a day or two.
Sinus headaches are usually associated with migraines or other forms of headaches. Also, this is associated with pain and pressure in the face.
Sinuses can also cause nasal symptoms. Most of these headaches are not caused by sinus infections and should not be treated with unprescribed antibiotics.
Sinus headaches can affect anyone, no matter what your gender is, or how old you are. It may also more likely to occur if you have:
- Hormonal changes associated with headaches
- Previous history of migraine of headaches
- A family history of a Migraine or headaches
Symptoms of Sinus Headaches
The most common signs and symptoms in individuals include:
- Pain, pressure, the and fullness in cheeks and forehead
- Pain worsens when you bend forward or lie down
- Fullness in your ears
- Swelling in your face
- Stuffy and runny nose
- Green or yellow nasal discharge
- Feeling painful on the upper teeth
Most people mistake a migraine or tension headaches as sinus headaches. This can be a blunder as the treatment you need depends upon the type of headaches you are suffering. You must visit specialists in order to confirm whether you have a Migraine, tension or sinus headaches. On the basis of the above symptoms, you can figure out your problems.
Diagnosis & Treatment
The treatment of sinus headaches may often include performing imaging tests in order to help determine the cause of a headache. You have to go through the diagnostic procedures like CT Scan or MRI test in order to determine your problem. Let’s discuss the diagnostic procedures as well as treatment methods of sinus headaches in detail.
Generally, doctors figure out the sinuses based on the common symptoms you describe and physical exam. But you may need CT Scan and MRI scan in some cases.
- CT Scan of Sinus
One of the most common imaging tests for Sinus is CT Scan that is carried out by doctors using a computer to create cross-sectional images of the brain and head, which also includes the sinuses and by combining images from an X-ray unit that rotates around the body.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Sinus MRI
MRI is another type of imaging test, where the magnetic field and radio waves are used to create cross-sectional images of the structures with the brain, that is, the sinuses and the skull.
Now, Let’s Take a Look on Treatment of a Sinus Headache
When experiencing sinus headaches, medical treatment from professional doctors is always recommended, and your doctor may recommend the following treatment methods.
The following drugs and medication will provide relief from the sinus headaches. Let’s have a look at each of them.
Over-the-counter – These types of headaches can be treated with over-the-counter medication like Acetaminophen, Naproxen sodium, and ibuprofen.
Triptans – Many people use triptan to get relief from headache pain. Tripant works by encouraging constriction of blood vessels and blocking pain pathways in the brain.
Ergots – Ergotamine is less effective than Triptans. It seems most effective to those whose pain is last for more than 72 hours. But Ergotamine can worsen nausea and vomiting.
Anti-nausea medications – Medication for nausea is appropriate because sinus headaches are usually accompanied by nausea, with or with vomiting. Mostly prescribed medications are chlorpromazine, Metoclopramide.
Antihistamines or decongestants – You may use inhaled nasal decongestants for a short period of time that is for 3 days. Their usage for a long time can make the situation worse.
If you are unable to get relief from the above medications. then doctors may refer the surgery to remove polyps or open up swollen sinuses. Lets study about in detail.
The surgery is needed if your sinusitis is due to a deviated septum, polyps, or other structural problems. The sinus surgery will help you to breathe better through your nose and also restore the sense of smell. You may need to go under the following types of surgery.
Endoscopy – Doctors insert the endoscopy (thin and flexible instrument) into your nose. The camera lens sends the images back to the screen. This way the doctor may locate your blocked sinuses and guide the instruments to remove the infections, polyps, scar tissue etc. It is done with a local anesthetic that the area will be made numb.
Balloon sinuplasty – In this type of surgery, there is no need to remove sinuses. The doctor inserts the thin tube into your nose. The balloon is attached at the end of the tube. Then the balloon is inflated in the blocked area to drain the sinuses and clear the passageway.
Home Remedies To Cure or Prevent Sinus Headaches
Whether or not you take preventive medications, you may benefit from lifestyle changes that can help reduce the number and severity of headaches. Thus, one or more of these suggestions may be of some great help to you:
Avoid things that might trigger sinus headaches
If certain foods or odors seem to have triggered sinus headaches in you in the past, then it is advised to strictly avoid such foods and smell, or any such things you do not feel pleased about.
Your doctor may also suggest you reduce the intake of caffeine or coffee, alcohol, and tobacco. In general, it is best to establish a daily routine with regular sleep patterns and regular meals.
Make a habit of exercising daily
A study suggests that regular exercise helps in reducing tension and stress in individuals. This can also help in preventing sinus headaches, migraine headaches, or any other form of a headache.
You can do any exercise such as walking, running, swimming or cycling. When exercising, warm up slowly and avoid doing intense exercises as that may cause headaches.
You may also try Shiatsu Self-massage techniques as shown below for pain relief and relaxation :
- Shiatsu Self-Massage Technique
Maintain a balanced body weight
Over-weight or obesity and under-weight both have a direct or indirect effect on an individual and thus, causes headaches, it could also be sinus headaches.
It is, therefore, necessary to keep control or maintain balanced body weight by eating healthy foods and doing exercises regularly.
Alternate Hot and Cold Compresses
Applying a hot washcloth over the eyes and nose will help warm the nasal passages and loosen mucus. For instance: place a hot towel over your sinuses for up to 3 minutes. After this, place a cold compress across your sinuses for 30 seconds. Do the same process two more times and repeat the whole treatment about four times a day.
Hum your way to sinus pain relief
According to a report from researchers of Sweden, Humming can keep your sinuses clear. Humming can increase airflow through your sinuses and nitric oxide in your sinuses. Combination of both of these can reduce the risk of sinusitis.
Minimize the effects of Oestrogen
Women experiencing sinus headaches and where the Oestrogen also seems to trigger or makes the condition of a sinus headache worse should avoid or reduce the intake of medications that contain Oestrogen.
Such medications may include birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy.
When to consult a doctor?
If you have a headache more than 15 days even after taking medicine for it, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.
If you have a sinus headache, you can take antibiotics or decongestants for a short time. You may also use inhaled nasal decongestant but only up to 3 days because more of it can make your symptoms worse.
If your severe headaches are disturbing your daily life activities and you are unable to bear it.
You can feel better with easy at-home tricks like drinking more fluids, using a humidifier and salt water nasal spray etc.
The most important part is to keep in touch with your doctor regularly if you are using any medication for a long time to get relief from your headache.