Sinus headache refers to head and facial pain associated with inflammation of the sinuses (called
). The sinuses are hollow cavities in the skull that have openings into the nose.
cause inflammation of the nasal passages and can lead to sinusitis. Sinus headache is a symptom of sinusitis.
Allergies and viral upper respiratory infections increase nasal secretions and cause tissue lining the nasal passages to swell. This results in nasal congestion and stuffiness. The nasal passages become blocked and normal drainage cannot occur. Secretions that are trapped in the sinuses may become infected with bacteria or, rarely, fungus. The swollen tissue or infection may create pain and pressure.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
Risk factors for sinus headache include:
—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the head
Nasal endoscopy—using a thin, lighted tube to look inside your nose and possibly take samples of drainage to be tested
Sinus headache treatment aims to:
Open the nasal passages
Treat any infection
Allow sinus cavities to drain
Treatment may include:
Medications may include:
Decongestants to open clogged nasal passages, which allows the sinuses to drain—Do not use longer or more often than directed. Overuse of decongestant nose sprays may increase swelling and make your symptoms worse.
Steroid nose spray to reduce inflammation
Drugs that thin secretions
Antibiotics—only if a bacterial infection has developed
Self-care During the Headache
Breathe warm, moist air.
Try a mist of saline nasal spray to moisten the nasal passages and help remove crusty secretions. A saline spray can be used up to six times per day.
Ask your doctor for directions on how to perform nasal irrigation that you can do at home.
Do not smoke. If you smoke, quit.
Avoid second-hand smoke and polluted air.
Surgery is usually not required. Patients with a structural abnormality or chronic sinusitis that does not respond to medications may benefit from surgery. The doctor may perform one of several procedures to clean out your sinus cavities.
If you are diagnosed with a sinus headache, follow your doctor's
The following strategies may reduce the risk of getting a sinus headache:
Avoid exposure to anything that triggers allergy or sinus symptoms.
Seek medical treatment for allergies.
Wash your hands frequently to avoid colds.
Seek treatment for a persistent cold before sinusitis sets in.
Avoid alcoholic drinks. Alcohol can cause swelling of nasal and sinus tissues.
Check with your doctor about using a decongestant before air travel.
Cady RK, Dodick DW, Levine HL, Schreiber CP, Eross EJ, et al. Sinus headache: a neurology, otolaryngology, allergy, and primary care consensus on diagnosis and treatment.
Mayo Clinic Proc.
Griffith's 5-Minute Clinical Consult
. Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins; 1999.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a