Sinus headaches generally make people feel pressure around the forehead, cheeks, and eyes, especially when the sinuses get inflamed due to infections or allergic reactions. It results in swellings, increased mucus production, and subsequent blockage of the mucus draining channels. Pressure then builds up in the sinuses, causing a headache-like feeling. Sinus headaches can be easily confused with migraines because their symptoms are the same.
Sinus Infections /Sinusitis
Sinusitis is the swelling of the paranasal sinuses and the cavities responsible for mucus production and passage. The condition can be caused by autoimmune reactions, bacteria, viruses, pollutants, fungi, or even allergies. If sinusitis is not treated, it results in sinus headaches. In severe cases, a CT scan may be needed to diagnose the sinusitis symptoms’ underlying cause.
Persons with sinusitis may feel pain in the teeth, have fever, experience tenderness around the face, coughing, fatigue, nasal stuffiness and have a greenish nasal discharge. Common areas where the pain is mostly felt include the forehead, face, back of the eyes, sinuses, and ear.
Some symptoms of sinus infections include thick discharge from the nose, nasal congestion, nasal inflammation, poor sense of smell/taste, post-nasal drainage, and difficulty breathing through the nose. Sometimes, individuals may feel pain and tenderness around their nose, eyes, cheeks, and nose. In severe cases, one can have a swollen face near the nose, cheeks, and forehead.
Some allergies cause sinus congestion causing the head to hurt. It is important to treat allergies as soon as they manifest to ease the congestion. It is also advisable to seek treatment for any headache-like symptoms in good time. For proper diagnosis and treatment, it is essential to consult a doctor. Individuals who have a history of allergies, such as asthma or hay fever, are more at risk of developing sinus headaches.
Related Health Problems
The risk factors for sinus headaches are conditions that trigger nasal secretions and inflammation in the nasal cavity’s inner lining tissue. There are health complications that can cause sinus pressure and increase the risk of developing sinus headaches.
Some health problems stimulate nose secretions and cause swelling in the tissues lining the nasal passages. These changes lead to stuffiness. The passages may get blocked, thereby hampering normal drainage of mucus and other secretions. When sinuses get infected with fungus, bacteria, or viruses, the inflamed tissues may cause pain and pressure. They include ear infections, asthma, migraines, injuries to the sinus passages, weak immune system, nasal polyps, allergic reactions, prior sinus surgery, and family history of sinus headaches.
Anything that triggers the build-up of mucus in the sinuses can potentially encourage such infection. Some common causes of mucus production in the sinuses include
• Abnormal growth known as polyps in the nasal cavity or sinuses can prevent mucus from draining, causing pressure build-up and cause headache
• Common cold; a viral infection in the through and nose which causes congestion.
• Other respiratory tract infections
• Deviated septum is a situation where the bone running down the center of the nose or cartilage line is crooked, preventing the proper draining of mucus from the nasal cavity.
Too much mucus in the nose creates a conducive environment for the growth of germs. The build-up of germs irritates the sinuses. The sinus tissues respond by swelling, blocking the passage of mucus. The irritation of the sinuses and swollen tissues makes individuals feel tender and achy.
Sinus Headaches and Migraines
Sinus headaches and migraines are almost the same. According to a Sinus Allergy & Migraine Study (SAMS), a whopping 9 in 10 people with sinus headaches have migraines. Most people are convinced that they have sinus headaches because of pressure and pain they feel on the forehead and around the eyes, puffy eyes, and nasal congestion while they actually have migraines. Like sinus headaches, patients with migraines experience pain and pressure on both sides of the head, sinuses, or the neck. While migraines are commonly caused by a neurological malfunction from the brain, sinus headaches are almost always a result of sinus infections.
Individuals who experience headaches that appear to originate from the sinus (judging from the symptoms) should contact their physicians or visit facilities such as the Hudson Valley Sinus Center immediately for careful examination. The successful treatment of such headaches is dependent on the accuracy of the diagnosis. Headache disorders may appear to be the same and have similar symptoms, but, in most cases, require different treatments and medication. While their symptoms seem the exact, underlying causes are, in most cases, separate.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Sinus Headaches
When patients visit a health centre such as the Hudson Valley Sinus Center, a doctor will ask questions related to the symptoms they are experiencing and their recent medical history. Any nasal discharge is tested, and the sinuses are physically examined to detect any visible inflammations. In severe cases where a doctor suspects chronic sinusitis, imagine tests, x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or CT scan may be required. Allergy tests are also conducted if the doctors suspect underlying allergic reactions.
Following a correct diagnosis, patients are exposed to different treatment approaches depending on the underlying causes. Doctors will, in most cases, prescribe antibiotics or corticosteroids to ease the inflammations. Patients are encouraged to adopt lifestyle behaviors that prevent the blockage of the nasal passage. Some dietary supplements and herbs also help to prevent common colds and flu-like symptoms. It is also advisable to use a nasal passage spray and humidifier to clear any blockages and congestion. Patients with allergies and asthma attack should quickly treat them as soon as they manifest.
Just like other diseases, untreated sinus headaches can deteriorate and lead to severe cases. People need to seek medical attention as soon as they experience any of the symptoms related to sinus headaches. Some cases have escalated to the point of requiring surgeries. Early diagnosis and treatment prevent such complications and relieves patients of any uncomfortable symptoms. As discussed in this article, proper treatment of sinus headaches begins with the accurate diagnosis of underlying causes.