What are Sinus Headaches?

When the sinus passages behind your eyes, cheeks, forehead, and nose are blocked, the pain and pressure you feel in your head and face area is considered a sinus headache. Sinus headaches may cause a continuous or throbbing/pulsing pain.

Causes of Sinus Headaches

The most common cause of sinus headaches is sinusitis, which is an inflammation or swelling of the sinuses. Other potential causes of sinus headaches can include the following:

  • Seasonal allergies
  • Sinus infections or sinus blockages

You are more likely to be affected by sinus headaches under the following conditions:

  • If you experience hormonal changes from headaches
  • If you are commonly affected by headaches or migraines
  • If you have a family history of headaches or migraines

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Sinus Headaches

Sinus headache often lead to the following symptoms.

  • The feeling of pain or pressure in or around your face, cheeks, nose, or forehead
  • Changes in the pain if you move your head such as in bending over or lying down
  • Toothaches in your upper teeth
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Fatigue or tiredness

You should visit your ENT specialist if your symptoms are severe, debilitating, or under the following conditions:

  • If your symptoms are recurring often requiring frequent use of pain medication
  • If your symptoms are repeatedly causing quality of life issues or missing out on your daily life
  • If pain medication does not help with your symptoms

Beyond normal examination and questioning, your ENT specialist may also perform imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI to determine the root cause(s) of your sinus headaches.

Treatments for Sinus Headaches

Home remedies and over-the counter options that may help with your sinus headaches include the following:

  • Using a humidifier to increase the humidity and moisture content
  • Use a saline solution to cleanse the sinuses
  • Applying gentle pressure to the facial area
  • Breathing through a wet warm washcloth
  • Pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Decongestants

If the home remedies and over-the counter options do not have any affect on your sinus headaches, consult your ENT specialist. Treatment from your ENT specialist will likely include prescribed medications such as mucolytics, antihistamines, corticosteroid shots, and/or decongestants. If your sinus headaches are a result of a bacterial infection, you may be antibiotics may be necessary.


All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

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