The sinuses are air-filled pockets below your forehead, cheekbones and the bridge of your nose. When you are suffering from a cold, allergies or infection, they can swell, produce excess mucus and become plugged. This interferes with normal mucus drainage, leading to breathing difficulties, pain and pressure.
What Are the Symptoms of a Sinus Headache?
Headache is a common symptom for a variety of conditions. You will know if you are suffering from a sinus headache if you are experiencing a variety of cold-like symptoms such as nasal congestion and discharge, postnasal drip, sore throat, facial pressure and swelling, loss of smell and taste, fever, fatigue and/or bad breath.
Your physician can likely diagnose a sinus headache based on your symptoms and a physical exam, but sometimes a CT or MRI scan may be ordered.
How Are Sinus Headaches Treated?
Treatment is based upon how severe your symptoms are. Nasal decongestants may provide immediate relief, but they are a short-term solution and shouldn’t be used for more than a few days. If they are, symptoms can actually worsen.
Other temporary treatment options designed to provide instant relief include applying a warm, moist washcloth to your face periodically through the day, drinking lots of fluids, flushing the sinuses with a Neti pot or similar device and using a humidifier.
Chronic sinusitis requires a solution geared toward long-term effectiveness. Nasal steroid sprays, antihistamines, saline washes/sprays and oral steroids can all be used for extended periods without harm.
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) may be administered when allergies are the cause. If you are looking for a permanent solution, surgery may be performed to enlarge the sinus openings or repair a deviated septum.