Sinus Headaches

1 What are Sinus Headaches?

Sinus headaches are characteristic headaches that may feel like an infection in the sinuses also known as sinusitis. Pressure can be felt around the area of the eyes, cheeks and forehead. 

A good number of individuals who may asssume they have headaches from sinusitis icluding some who have had such a kind of diagnosis, actually have other forms of headaces such as migraines.

2 Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of sinus headaches of any form may include the following:

  • pain  is widely experienced,
  • pressure and fulness in the cheeks,
  • brow or forehead.

The pain usually worsens as on bends down forward or lies down. 

Other symptoms include:

  • a stuffy nose,
  • fatigue,
  • any achy feeling in the upper teeth,
  • sinusitis or migraines.

It is very common to mistake migraines for sinusitis and vice-versa because the signs and symptoms of the two conditions often overlap. In both conditions, pain usually gets worse when one bends forward. 

Migraine can also occur with nasal signs and symptoms which may include:

  • congestion,
  • facial pressure and a clear,
  • watery nasal discharge.

Some studies have shown that about 90% of individuals who see a doctor for sinus head aches have migraine headaches instead. 

Sinusitis is not  usually associated with vomiting or made worse by noise or bright light, which are all common traits of migraines. Sinusitis usually occurs a viral upp respiratory infection or cold and always includes the presence of a thick, discoloured nasal mucus.

3 Causes

Sinus headaches have a variety of possible causes, so you should consult with your doctor to see what the most reasonable cause is for your specific condition.

It has been well established that sinus headaches can be associated with migraines or any other forms of headaches.  Sinus headaches are accompanied by pain, pressure in the face and sinuses and can cause nasal symptoms. The most part of these headaches are not caused by sinus infections and antibiotics should not be used as a form of treatment.

4 Making a Diagnosis

To make a proper diagnosis of sinus headaches, your doctor may recommend you to a headache specialist.

The initial stages to solving the problem is by first making an appointment with a doctor or general practitioner. An individual may later be referred to a neurologist who specializes in headaches and migraines. Here's some information that can be helpful for one to get ready for an appointment and to know what to expect from their doctor.  It is important to find out if there's anything required to do in advance, such as making any diet restrictions. 

It is also key to write down symptoms experienced, this includes any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment was scheduled. Write down key personal information, including major stresses or recent life changes. Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements taken on a regular basis. Take a family member or friend along, if possible. An individual who accompanies you can help you remember what your doctor tells you. 

Writing down questions to ask a doctor. Preparing questions will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For sinus headaches, some basic questions to ask include:

  • What is likely causing my symptoms or condition? 
  • Are there other possible causes for my symptoms or condition? 
  • What tests do I need? 
  • Is my condition likely temporary or chronic? 
  • What is the best course of action? 
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting? 
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together? 
  • Are there any restrictions I need to follow? 
  • Should I see a specialist? 
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing? 
  • Are there brochures or other printed materials I can take with me? 
  • What websites do you recommend? 

Don't hesitate to ask any other questions you may have. 

What to expect from a doctor?  

Doctor are likely to ask questions, such as:

  • When did you first experience your headache, and what was it like?
  • Has your headache been continuous or occasional?
  • Has anyone in your immediate family had migraines?
  • What seems to improve your headaches?
  • What appears to worsen your headaches?

The cause of headaches can be difficult to determine. 

The doctor will question one about their headaches and do a physical exam. The doctor may perform imaging tests to help determine the cause of the headache, including:

  • CT scan. CT scans use a computer to create cross-sectional images of your brain and head (including your sinuses) by combining images from an X-ray unit that rotates around the body.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). With MRIs, a magnetic field and radio waves are used to create cross-sectional images of the structures within the brain.

5 Treatment

Several treatment methods are used for sinus headaches.

It is known that migraines and chronic or recurrent headaches can be treated using prescription medication that might be either taken on a daily basis to reduce or prevent headaches. Most individuals who initially assume they have sinusitis actually have migraines or tension-type headaches.

They can also be taken at the onset of a headache to prevent it from developing. In the treament of these kinds of headaches, a doctor can recommend the following: over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, naprexen sodium and ibuprofen. 

Many individuals with migraines use triptans. These drugs work by promoting the constriction of blood essels and the blocking of the pain routes in the brain. 

These medications include:

  • sumatriptan,
  • rizatriptan,
  • almotriptan,
  • naratriptan,
  • zolmitriptan,
  • frovatriptan,
  • eletriptan.

Some triptans may be available as nasal sprays and injections, in addition to tablets.

6 Prevention

It does not matter if one takes any preventive medications, it is beneficial to make lifestyle changes that can help reduce the number and severity of sinus headaches. One or more of these suggestions may be helpful : It is primarily advised to avoid triggers. If certain foods or odours seem to have triggered  the headaches in the past, avoid them. 

Doctors may recommend a reduction in caffeine and alcohol intake and avoiding tobacco. In general, establishing a daily routine with regular sleep patterns and regular meals. Trying to control stress by various methods that will be suggested by doctors is also helpful. Regular aerobic exercise reduces tension and can help prevent headaches. 

With the agreement of the doctor, one can choose any aerobic exercise you enjoy, including walking, swimming and cycling. Warm up slowly, however, because sudden, intense exercise can cause headaches. Obesity is also thought to be a factor in headaches, and regular exercise can help them maintain a healthy weight or lose weight. 

In women with headaches that seem to be triggered or made worse by  estrogen, trying to avoid or reduce the medications taken that may contain estrogen will reduce the headaches systematically. These medications include birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. It is always very necessary to talk with a doctor about the appropriate alternatives or dosages.  .

7 Risks and Complications

There are several risks associated with sinus headaches.

Anyone can develop a sinus headache. However, it is more likely developed in individuals who have a history of migraines or headaches.

People who also experience hormonal changes associated with headaches are also at a high risk of developing sinus headaches.

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