Sinus headaches are uncommon forms of headaches brought about by inflamed sinuses. It can be felt as a throbbing, dull ache in the upper face.
A doctor should be consulted if an individual experience any form of severe headache that could not be controlled with over-the-counter medications especially if it persists for a week or longer. This is vital so that a diagnosis can be given and the right treatment can be started.
What are the indications?
A sinus headache is felt as a throbbing, continuous pain in the face, usually on one side. It is usually worse upon waking up in the morning and settles by afternoon.
The pain might worsen if the head is moved, straining or bending down or when exposed to drastic temperature changes. The discomfort can even radiate to the teeth, upper jaw and other parts of the head.
The face might become distended and sensitive to the touch along with other indication of sinusitis such as yellowish or greenish drainage from the nose and fever. The indications of sinus headaches are strikingly the same as a migraine and tension headache.
Management of sinus headaches
If the individual only has minor symptoms, it can be managed at home with the following:
- Adequate rest and increasing the intake of fluids
- Over-the-counter pain medications
- Over-the-counter decongestant drops or nasal sprays that unblock the nose
- Place a warm flannel on the affected sinuses for a few minutes and repeat several times throughout the day
- Flush the interior of the nose with a saline nasal solution or spray to lessen the swelling in the sinuses to clean out any mucus, allergens and bacteria.
When to consult a doctor
A doctor should be seen if the headache does not seem to improve after a week, becomes worse or continues to recur. The doctor might suggest:
- Antibiotics – in case the suspected cause is a bacterial infection
- Antihistamines – if an allergy is the trigger of the symptoms
- Corticosteroid-based sprays or drops – work by reducing the inflammation in the sinuses
In some instances, the doctor might refer the individual to a specialist to perform tests in determining the underlying root of the symptoms.
If the treatment options are not effective, the specialist might suggest surgery to improve the drainage of the sinuses.