|Sinus Headache: Areas of Pain|
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- Allergies, such as allergic rhinnitis or asthma
- Persistent cold or upper respiratory infection
- Ear infections
- Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
- Nasal polyps
- Nasal deformities, such as a deviated septum
- Cystic fibrosis
- Problems with immunity
- Prior sinus surgery
- Facial injuries that block sinus passages
- Traveling in an airplane if you have an upper respiratory infection
- Tooth abscess or infection
- Swimming in dirty water
- Pain and tenderness behind the forehead, cheeks, and around the eyes and ears
- Pain in the upper teeth
- Pain ranging from mild to severe
- Pain that is more intense first thing in the morning
- Pain that may worsen when you bend over
Headache may occur with other symptoms of sinusitis, including:
- Nasal stuffiness and congestion
- Thick nasal drainage
- Postnasal drip
- Stuffy ears
- Sore throat
- Puffiness around the eyes
- CT scan—to look for sinus fluid
- Nasal endoscopy—to look inside your nose and possibly take samples of drainage to be tested
- Open the nasal passages
- Treat any infection
- Allow sinus cavities to drain
- Pain relievers
- Antihistamines to treat nasal allergies
- Decongestants to open clogged nasal passages, which allows the sinuses to drain
- Steroid nasal spray to reduce inflammation
- Antibiotics—only if a bacterial infection has developed
Self-care for a Headache
- Breathe warm, moist air. Try inhaling steam.
- Mist of saline nasal spray to moisten the nasal passages and help remove crusty secretions. A saline spray can be used up to 6 times per day.
- Ask your doctor for directions on how to perform nasal irrigation that you can do at home.
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Do not smoke. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how you can quit.
- Avoid second-hand smoke and polluted air.
- 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.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery http://www.entnet.org
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America http://www.aafa.org
Allergy Asthma Information Association http://aaia.ca
Calgary Allergy Network http://www.calgaryallergy.ca
Cady RK, Dodick DW, Levine HL, et al. Sinus headache: a neurology, otolaryngology, allergy, and primary care consensus on diagnosis and treatment. Mayo Clinic Proc. 2005;80(7):908-816.
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Headache. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 24, 2014. Accessed September 29, 2014.
Sinus headache. National Headache Foundation website. Available at: http://www.headaches.org/2007/10/25/sinus-headache. Accessed September 29, 2014.
Sinus headaches. American Academy of Otolaryngology website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/?q=node/1410. Accessed July 29, 2014.
Sinus problems. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America website. Available at: http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=18&cont=240. Accessed September 29, 2014.
- Reviewer: David Horn, MD
- Review Date: 08/2015 -
- Update Date: 09/30/2014 -