Sinus Headache Causes and Symptoms

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Sinus headache in an effect of sinus infection or sinusitis, it can happen due to swollen and inflammation of the membranes lining the sinuses. The patient also complains about head throbs, pressure around eyes, forehead and cheeks is also very common. However, a sinus headache is often misdiagnosed. Some patients think they are affected by sinus headache, but they actually have migraines or headache due to tension. If you’re diagnosed with sinusitis headache, proper treatment and medications can give you relief within a short period of time. Sinus infection is one of the most common chronic diseases in USA. Some American experience occasional sinus headache, common cause is worse cold. 37 million of them are suffering from recurrent sinusitis on a regular basis.

Most of the sinusitis affected people said, a sinus headache is extremely disabling. A recent Harris survey revealed, sinusitis sufferers would do anything to get rid of it. Around 13 percent of them responded sinus headache waste working hours. 38 percent of the respondents experienced trouble in their marital life.

Sinus headache symptoms

Four pairs of cavities filled with air surrounding the nose and eyes are called sinuses. The sinuses produce about a quart of mucus daily and drain through the air ducts of the nasal passages. If cold strikes your nasal passages, the nearby sinuses may become clogged. It increases the possibility of secondary infection. Your cold may heal within a week, but it can be severe and trigger sinus infection. Some signs of sinus headache may as follow:

  • Headache usually worsens after waking up in the morning or if the patient bends over.
  • No reaction to smell or decrease the ability to smell and taste.
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Stuffy nose
  • Facial pain, pain on the cheeks, forehead and eye area
  • Sore throat
  • Achy feeling in the upper teeth
  • Feeling of fluid drained into the lower throat

Sinusitis can occur immediately after getting affected by cold. If the sinus infection is viral it will heal within one week. The secondary infection can be bacterial or fungal, so doctors may suggest you some antibiotics to heal it.

Causes of sinus headache

A sinus headache is an effect of sinusitis, so the causes are not different. The causes are detected as follows:

  • Colds
  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Change of structure of the nasal cavity
  • Disorder of the immune system

These disorders can change the condition of the sinus and as a result you feel headache.

Sinus headache vs. migraine

The signs and symptoms of a sinus headache and migraine are often confusing, as the signs of these two diseases conditions are overlapping. In case of migraine, pain may get worse if you bend over. Migraine also includes some typical symptoms of sinusitis, such as congestion, a clear, watery nasal discharge and facial pressure. Regardless, different studies found that 90 percent people who visit a doctor for sinus headache may have migraines instead. Sometimes, patients may experience aggravated because of noise or bright light, nausea or vomiting, these are common symptoms of migraines and not associated with sinus headache.

When it is not sinus headache?

According to Mark A. Zacharek (MD), RPD for the department of otolaryngology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, people often get confused with sinus headache and other headache syndromes. Some other headache problem that is not associated with sinus:

  • Tension headache: A typical headache that is experienced by 80-90 percent people at some point. A major cause for tension headache is muscle tightness. Most commonly women experience this type of headache. The tension headache pain can spread from your head to your neck. Stress or holding head in an unnatural position can cause this type of headache.
  • Migraine headache: As we have discussed earlier, migration headache is often one sided and can be more severe than sinus headache. Also the patient can experience nausea or vomiting. Experienced by 17 percent of the Americans.
  • Another type of headaches: Any other type of headaches can also bother you. For instance, cluster headache. Less than one percent of the Americans experience cluster headache. In case of cluster headache, the patient complains about very severe one-sided headache and the occurrence in cyclic. This type of headache is more common in men. Urgent treatment is required, as it can be a sign of a subarachnoid hemorrhage. That may cause a bleeding into a layer covering the brain and requires urgent neurosurgical evaluation and drainage.

Natural remedies or self-treatment for sinus headache

There are lots of home remedies for sinus infections. Self-treatment may include:

  • You may drink plenty of hot fluids to thin the nasal discharge and flowing them.
  • Menthol vaporizer or hot shower also can give you comfort.
  • Use a decongestant pill or syrup for temporary relief and
  • Over the counter medications with a combination of decongestant and pain killing can be a best option such as acetaminophen, paracetamol and aspirin.

If your sinusitis is because of viral infections, there is no exception of natural remedies for sinusitis. Most of the time the viral infections doesn’t respond to the antibiotics, bacterial or fungal infections can be healed by antibiotics. You can also use nasal decongestant drops or spray for one week or consult with an ENT specialist. When feeling a sinus headache, it should be treated as early as possible and there is no way to ignore it. Proper treatment will not reduce the pain only, it will reduce the future risk of chronic inflammation. If you have sinusitis, the sinuses more easily get inflamed in response to different chemicals, cigarette smoke, animal dander, dust and other irritants in the environment. If anyone developed chronic sinusitis the condition becomes progressively difficult to treat.

When you should choose a surgery for sinus headache?

Study reveals, about half a million sinusitis affected patients choose surgery as an option to get relief from sinus headache. The popular treatment process is endoscopy. A thin, flexible and lighted tube is inserted through the nose to enlarge the opening between the sinuses and the nose, so that the sinuses can drain freely than before. However, a sinus surgery in very sensitive. Some sinus passages are just a hairbreadth away from your brain. The optic nerve and arteries carry blood to the brain and a slip on hand can create severe complications. So, the surgery should be performed under a skilled surgeon, who has handled similar kind of  operations before. Although, the surgery only clear away the blockage and make the drainage easier, it doesn’t clear away the infection and the sinuses still remains susceptible to inflammation. However, 80-90% of the patients undergoing the surgery procedure reported that they can feel a significant improvement of their sinus headache.

Prevention of sinus headache

You can minimize the risk factors of sinus headache by following these tips:

  • Keep your hands clean: If you keep your hand clean, you can minimize the risk of the upper respiratory infections that can lead to sinusitis. Also a yearly flu vaccine can be a prevention step.
  • Avoid smoking: You should avoid smoking cigarette and pipe smoke. Other air pollutants can also increase the risk of sinus headache by swelling your sinus membranes.
  • Humidifier at home: Sinusitis can be prevented by adding moisture to dry indoor air. You should clean the humidifier regularly to keep it free of mold. Don’t over use the humidifier, it can promote the growth of dust mite and mold in your house.

You can choose other treatment options (e.g. Over the counter medications, antibiotics, nasal spray or nasal saline irrigation) by consulting with your doctor.

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