If you have a headache, you’re not alone. Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches. When treating a headache, it is important to understand the cause of your pain. Sinus headaches are caused when the sinus ducts connecting to any of the sinus cavities swell up or become blocked. This swelling may be a result of a sinus infection, allergies, or trapped mucus which does not drain. The swelling may then cause pressure in the membrane lining of the nasal passages resulting in a person feeling discomfort and pain.
Sinus headaches and migraines are often confused, as many of the symptoms are the same. Both consist of throbbing or aching pain in one or both sides of the head. Both sinus headaches and migraines can become worse if you bend forward. Both sinus headaches and migraines can have nasal congestion as an additional symptom, along with the headache. However, there are some primary differences between migraines and sinus headaches, in both symptoms and causes. The following signs and symptoms can indicate that sinusitis is the cause of your headache:
- Face is tender to the touch
- Pressure-like pain in one specific area of your face or head (for example, behind your eyes)
- Worse pain in the morning, because mucus has been collecting and draining all night
- Postnasal drip with sore throat (pharyngitis)
- Sudden temperature changes, like going out into the cold from a warm room, worsen the pain
- Yellow or green discharge from your nose
- Mild to moderate fever
- Headache often starts when you have a bad cold or just after
Like sinus headaches, migraines can also feel worse when you bend forward and can be accompanied by nasal congestion. But a migraine is more likely to be made worse by noise or light, and to be accompanied by nausea. Those who have a history of allergies (especially hay fever or asthma), nasal polyps or other sinus issues are more likely to experience sinus headaches. If your head is aching, don’t keep reaching for the aspirin, contact our office.