Written by April Reinhardt (last updated September 5, 2008)
Associated with a constant and deep pain in the forehead, cheekbones, and bridge of the nose, sinus headaches can be debilitating. Usually accompanied by other sinus symptoms including fever, facial swelling, a fullness of the ears, and nasal discharge, sinus headache pain can worsen with straining or sudden head movements.
The cavities located in the cheekbones, forehead, and behind the bridge of the nose, sinuses serve biologically to increase voice resonance, provide a buffer against trauma to the face, and humidify and heat inhaled air. Those cavities sometimes become inflamed and blocked with mucus, stopping proper drainage through the nose. Ask anyone who has ever had a sinus headache and they will tell you that when the sinuses become inflamed or infected, the pain and pressure causes sometimes unbearable headaches.
There are several courses of treatment to get rid of sinus headaches. First, the doctor will determine if you have an infection. If your headaches are accompanied by fever, then you most likely have an infection, and your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Decongestants and antihistamines are prescribed to treat symptoms in conjunction with, and in absence of, fever. If you do not have a fever, and you have a history of sinus headaches and know to take decongestants, antihistamines, and sinus headache medication, you can save a trip to the doctor and purchase over-the-counter products such as Sudafed or Benadryl, or a strong antihistamine such as MucinexD.
For pain associated with sinus headaches, there are many over-the-counter productions from which to choose. When pain continues after using pain relievers, doctors may prescribe corticosteroids to help decrease inflammation and swelling. Before using any medications, it is best to find the source of possible allergens in your environment. While it is a common misconception that headaches are caused by allergies, they can cause sinus pain due to congestion. Make an appointment to see an allergist to discuss what could be causing your sinus pain as they relate to allergens.
Also, make sure that your headache is truly a sinus headache. If decongestants relieve your headaches, but you do not have sinus infections, you may actually have tension or migraine headaches. Those types of headaches require specialized treatment.
If you truly have sinus headaches caused by pressure and congestion, some simple things to do to help stop the pain are:
If you develop a fever or your mucus turns green or yellow, make an appointment to see your doctor to determine if you have an infection.
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