Sinus Headaches

In Denver and Lone Tree, Colorado

Not every headache is the consequence of sinus and nasal passage problemsFor examplemany patients visit Integrated ENT to seek treatment for a sinus headache and learn they actually have a migraine or tension headacheThe confusion is commona migraine can cause irritation of the trigeminal or fifth cranial nerve (with branches in the foreheadcheeks and jaw)This may produce pain at the lower-end branches of the nervein or near the sinus cavity.

Symptoms Of Sinusitis

Pain in the sinus area does not automatically mean that you have a sinus disorderOn the other handsinus and nasal passages can become inflamed leading to a headacheHeadache is one of the key symptoms of patients diagnosed with acute or chronic sinusitis.

In addition to a headachesinusitis patients often complain of:

  • Pain and pressure around the eyesacross the cheeks and the forehead.
  • Achy feeling in the upper teeth.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Facial swelling.
  • Nasal stuffiness.
  • Yellow or green discharge.

Howeverit is important to note that there are some cases of headaches related to chronic sinusitis without other upper respiratory symptomsThis suggests that an examination for sinusitis be considered when treatment for a migraine or other headache disorder is unsuccessful.

Sinus Headache Treatment

Sinus headaches are associated with a swelling of the membranes lining the sinuses (spaces adjacent to the nasal passages)Pain occurs in the affected region – the result of airpusand mucus being trapped within the obstructed sinusesThe discomfort often occurs under the eye and in the upper teeth (disguised as a headache or toothache)Sinus headaches tend to worsen as you bend forward or lie downThe key to relieving the symptoms is to reduce sinus swelling and inflammation and facilitate mucous drainage from the sinuses.

There are several at-home steps that help prevent sinus headache or alleviate its painThey include:

Breathe moist air: Relief for a sinus headache can be achieved by humidifying the dry air environmentThis can be done by using a steam vaporizer or cool-mist humidifiersteam from a basin of hot wateror steam from a hot shower.

Alternate hot and cold compresses: Place a hot compress across your sinuses for three minutesand then a cold compress for 30 secondsRepeat this procedure three times per treatmenttwo to six times a day.

Nasal irrigation: Some believe that when nasal irrigation or rinse is performedmucusallergy creating particlesand irritants such as pollensdust particlespollutantsand bacteria are washed awayreducing the inflammation of the mucous membraneNormal mucosa will fight infections and allergies better and will reduce the symptomsNasal irrigation helps shrink the sinus membranes and thus increases drainageThere are several over-the-counter nasal rinse products availableConsult one of our specialists for directions on making a home nasal rinse or irrigation solution.

Over-the-counter medications: Some over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are highly effective in reducing sinus headache painThe primary ingredient in most OTC pain relievers is aspirinacetaminophenibuprofennaproxenor a combination of themThe best way to choose a pain reliever is by determining which of these ingredients works best for you.

Decongestants: Sinus pressure headaches caused by allergies are usually treated with decongestants and antihistaminesIn difficult casesnasal steroid sprays may be recommended.

If none of these preventative measures or treatments is effectivea visit to the Integrated ENT offices may be warrantedDuring the examinationa CT scan of the sinuses may be ordered to determine the extent of blockage caused by chronic sinusitisIf no chronic sinusitis is foundtreatment might then include allergy testing and desensitization (allergy shots)Acute sinusitis is treated with antibiotics and decongestantsIf antibiotics fail to relieve the chronic sinusitis and accompanying headachesendoscopic or image-guided surgery may be the recommended treatment.