The Relationship Between Sinusitis and Headache
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the paranasal sinuses due to a viral, bacterial or fungal infection or an allergy. The paranasal sinuses are air-filled cavities, located on the forehead, cheekbones, and behind the bridge of the nose. The healthy paranasal sinuses do not contain bacteria or other microorganisms, they are sterile and are covered with small glands that secrete a thin layer of mucus that sweeps the foreign particles out of them.
The sinuses drain through channels in the nose. When a breast becomes inflamed, as a result of an infection, an allergic reaction or a tumor, it increases mucus production and blocks the nasal passages. The increased pressure in the sinuses causes pain similar to that of a headache.
Sinus headaches are associated with a deep, throbbing and constant pain in the forehead, cheekbones or bridge of the nose. This type of pain intensifies with the sudden movement of the head or the effort made with the head. The pain gets worse when you lean forward or lie down. Sometimes, migraine pain also gets worse when the head is tilted forward, and migraines can be accompanied by nasal congestion, clear or watery nasal discharge and facial pressure.
Differences between standard and sinus headaches
The main differences between a migraine and sinus headache are the following signs and symptoms, which are usually present in sinusitis:
- A sore throat
- A cough
- Decreased smell or taste capacity
- Sensation of pain in the upper teeth
- Stuffy nose
- Bloody nasal discharge or yellowish-green mucus
- Pain, pressure, and fullness in the cheeks or forehead
- The pain gets worse when you lean forward or lie down
Sinus headaches are not associated with nausea or vomiting and are not aggravated by noise or bright light.
In the case of a migraine, the pain increases rapidly and lasts between 4-72 hours. A sinus headache gradually increases, and it takes longer to disappear.
In general, the medical history and physical examination are sufficient to determine if there is a blockage in the sinuses but, in some cases, CT and MRI will be needed.
Sinus headache treatment
The treatment of a sinus headache includes antibiotics for infection, antihistamines or decongestants to lower inflammation and treat symptoms. During the first three days, inhaled nasal decongestants can be used. The prolonged use of these causes a rebound effect and worsens the symptoms. If the pain is very severe, your doctor will prescribe analgesics. Sometimes, it is necessary to administer corticosteroids to reduce inflammation quickly.
Drink plenty of fluids, use humidifiers with essential oils or saline nasal water are useful in the treatment of a sinusitis and sinus headache.
Consult your doctor immediately when:
- Your eyelids swell, fall, redden, become hot or suffer from changes in vision.
- The sinus headache moves to the eye and swelling occur around the eye.
- The pupil of the eye dilates or is more significant than usual.
- You experience a change in personality, stiff neck, high fever, altered consciousness, rashes in the body, visual problems or seizures.
- You have an inflammation of the soft tissue on the frontal sinus along with a headache and fever.
Allergies do not cause a headache. However, they produce nasal congestion that can lead to a problem. Allergies and headaches should be treated separately.