Sinus headaches are caused by inflammation of the sinuses. They can feel similar to migraines but without the accompanying nausea, vomiting and aversion to light.
Symptoms of sinus headache include:
• A throbbing pain in the front of your head
• Pressure in one area of the face or head
• Pain that gets worse when you move your head, particularly if you bend down
• Pain that gets worse in cold temperatures
Most sinus headaches begin during a cold as a result of congestion, so you may also have a blocked nose, sore throat, yellow or green nasal discharge, a mild temperature, or just feel tired and unwell.
Sinus congestion (sinusitis) is caused by a virus such as a cold or the flu. Occasionally it is caused by an allergy like hayfever or another health problem with the nasal passages, such as a tumor or a structural deformity.
If you have cold symptoms, your doctor will be more likely to diagnose a sinus headache rather than a migraine or a tension headache.
Antibiotics May Not Be Effective at Treating Sinusitis!
Antibiotics aren’t always effective at treating sinusitis, the root cause of a sinus headache, because most cases of sinusitis are caused by a virus and viruses don’t respond to antibiotics. However, sometimes retained nasal mucus leads to bacterial infection, hence antibiotic use in treating sinusitis.
This method of treatment is debated, though, as doctor's aren't always sure how to distinguish between a viral and bacterial sinus infection. The Lancet wrote:
'Primary-care physicians continue to overprescribe antibiotics for acute rhinosinusitis because distinction between viral and bacterial sinus infection is difficult. We undertook a meta-analysis of randomised trials based on individual patients' data to assess whether common signs and symptoms can be used to identify a subgroup of patients who benefit from antibiotics...Common clinical signs and symptoms cannot identify patients with rhinosinusitis for whom treatment is clearly justified. Antibiotics are not justified even if a patient reports symptoms for longer than 7—10 days.' (3)