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Sinus Headaches

By Dr. Aref Awa, Head of ENT Department at Al-Ahli-Hospital / Qatar

 Sinus headaches occur when the sinus passages behind the eye, nose, cheeks and forehead are congested. Headaches or pressure can be felt on both sides of your head and anywhere in the sinus area. 

Sinus headaches can occur seasonally if you suffer from allergies, or sometimes only when sinuses are stimulated for another reason. It is easy to confuse migraine with sinus headaches because the signs and symptoms of these two types of headaches overlap. As with sinus headaches, migraine pain worsens when bending forward, and migraines can be accompanied by many nasal signs and symptoms – including congestion, facial pressure and fluid secretions from the nose.

In fact, studies have shown that about 90 percent of people who visit the doctor because of sinus headaches show that they suffer from a half headache. However, sinus headache is usually not associated with nausea or vomiting or exacerbated by noise or bright light.

Signs and symptoms of sinus headaches may include:

  • Pain and pressure in the cheeks, eyebrows or forehead, and the pain worsens when bending forward or lying down.
  • Excretion from the nose tends to be yellow and green and mixed with blood.
  • Stuffy nose.
  • Sore throat
  • Fever.
  • Coughing.
  • Fatigue.
  • A feeling of alignment in the upper teeth.
  • Poor ability to smell or taste.

Causes and risk factors for sinus headaches

Sinus headache is accompanied by sinusitis, a condition in which the membranes that line the sinuses become swollen and inflamed. Sinusitis can be caused by colds, viral or bacterial infections, weakened immune system, or structural problems in the nasal cavity. You may be more at risk if you suffer from the following:

  • Asthma.
  • Nasal diet.
  • Allergies to dust or mold.
  • Weakness of the immune system.
  • Exposure to pollutants, such as airborne chemicals.
  • A pathological condition that affects the way mucus moves inside the respiratory system, such as cystic fibrosis.
  • Exposure to irritants, such as cigarette smoke.
  • Diagnosis of sinus headache

It can be difficult to determine the cause of the headache. The doctor will ask you about the headache you are experiencing and will request a physical examination. Be sure to mention if you recently had a cold, have any allergies or you are smoking, factors that contribute to acute sinusitis. Your doctor may take one of these tests to determine the severity of sinusitis:

  • Rhinoscopy, to examine the nasal passages.
  • Examination of mucus, to check for evidence of viral or bacterial infection.
  • Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests.

Treatment of sinus headaches

  • Description of antibiotics. However, antibiotics will not help with the most widespread viral sinusitis, which usually occurs after upper respiratory tract infection. Be sure to complete the prescribed treatment, even if the signs and symptoms disappear before you finish taking all the pills and capsules.
  • Nasal sprays or cortical steroid pills if sinusitis is related to inflammation or allergies. With the treatment of sinus infection, sinus headaches should disappear. At the same time, painkillers, decongestants and nasal sprays containing saline may help you feel better, and drinking plenty of fluids may also help.
  • Nasal cavity wash with saline solution, where quenching the nose may help shrink the sinus membranes and increase drainage. Many groups of solutions for quenching the nose are available without a prescription.

When is the resort to surgical correction?

If the structural problem in your nasal cavity is the cause of sinusitis or sinus headache, surgical correction may be recommended. Sinus headache is a common disease in winter. It is a headache caused by sinus infections. 

It occurs when the membranes lining the sinuses are swollen, causing pressure in the area around the eyes as well as the cheeks and forehead.

The severity of this headache ranges from normal to severe pain.

Finally, soaps and water can help avoid upper respiratory tract infections that can lead to sinusitis, and you may need to consult your doctor about the flu vaccine. 

Also, avoid smoking and passive smoking, these and other air pollutants can cause the sinus membranes to swell. Using a humidity adjuster may benefit you, but it should not be excessive. High humidity indoors can increase the growth of mold and dust moth at home, and make sure that the humidity adjuster is clean and preserved without mould.

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