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Sinus Headache

Sinus Headache

A mild to severe pain in the head is classified as a headache. A sinus headache is caused when the sinuses are swollen and congested with mucus due to a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. This HealthHearty write-up provides information on the nature of sinus headache and remedies that help relieve the pain.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
There is no pain worse than that of a severe headache. Absolutely nobody is spared headaches. Infants to children to the young to the very old, everyone suffers from headaches at some time or the other for a variety of reasons.
Types of headaches can be divided into two categories - primary and secondary. There are many types of headaches, but the most common are tension-type headache, migraine, and cluster headache which all fall under the primary headache category. A sinus headache falls into the secondary headache category.
Blocked Sinuses
Swelling and inflammation of the membranes of the sinuses is known as sinusitis. The pain that accompanies sinusitis is called sinus headache.
Whenever your sinuses get congested due to mucus, what follows will be a dull yet throbbing pain in the head. The most common reason for your nose getting blocked with mucus is nothing but the 'common cold'. A sinus headache will usually occur when the temperature drops down to very low levels, or if there is a sudden change in weather. Your sinuses may repeatedly swell up because of an allergy.
Wondering how a common cold can lead a very normal person to suffer from a throbbing headache? When you have a cold, mucus that keeps building up blocks your sinuses. Sinuses are the cavities that are located just below the cheekbones. This blockage leads to a swelling, which in turn is the cause of the headache.
The headache can be very annoying, because to begin with, you will usually have a cold accompanied with watery eyes and a bloated face. The headache just makes the cold more miserable.
Remedies
When a sinus headache is severe, what most would do is to take some form of medication for a headache. This will usually relieve the pain, and make one feel better for some time, but the headache will come back very soon, because the headache, and not the cause of the headache was treated.
Medication to cure a sinus headache must be aimed at normalizing the sinus along with something to reduce the headache. Once your sinus problem is solved the headache will go away. Prescribed medication usually consists of a nasal spray to reduce inflammation, pain relieving medication, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, and in a bad case of sinus congestion, analgesics containing caffeine may be prescribed.
Many people feel a relief both in breathing and the headache when a cold relieving balm is applied to the chest, nose, and forehead. The balm helps to temporarily clear the blockage, and provides relief.
When a bacterial infection is found to be the cause, your physician will prescribe antibiotics. The duration of the medication can be very depressing to many, because the antibiotics not only kill the bacteria, but also your appetite. Antibiotics, though very unpleasant, are the fastest way to recovery.
In some cases, where sinus headaches are caused due to structural reasons, a surgery could be required. A surgery is advised only after all other resources have been exhausted. The surgery will be performed by an otolaryngologist, more commonly known as an ENT (ear, nose, throat) specialist.
Minimizing the Risk
Follow instructions while using a nasal spray. Do not overuse it. Overuse of nasal sprays will lead to a condition known as rebound congestion, obstructing your breathing and causing a more severe case of headache.
The moment you notice that you are getting a cold and your sinuses are getting blocked, use a decongestant, and take an over-the-counter antihistamine and a painkiller. This should help cure the problem before it gets chronic. If the symptoms remain the same or increase over a couple of days, stop the medication, and consult your physician. The cause could be something else.
Drinking a lot of water (preferably warm) and fluids (clear soups) helps keep the mucus runny. Allowing it to thicken will block the sinuses and trigger the headache.
In most of the cases, a sinus headache is not a regular feature. It comes with a sudden change in weather and goes away as quickly. If you suffer from constant sinus headaches, you must get professional advice. Visit your physician and explain the symptoms. It could be something that can be permanently cured with medication, or in rare cases, may require surgery.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.