If you have recurring headaches, getting a correct diagnosis for the type of headache and its cause can be an important part of receiving effective treatment.
In this blog, the ear, nose, and throat specialists at DFW Sinus Select will explain what a sinus headache is, how they’re caused, and how they can be treated.
What is a sinus headache?
Sinus headaches are headaches that are caused by inflammation and congestion in your sinuses. These air-filled cavities are located around your eyes, nose, and cheeks, and they can usually do an efficient job of allowing mucus to drain. When you have a cold, flu, allergies, or physical abnormality such as a deviated septum, the quart or so of mucus that’s produced in your nose and sinuses every day isn’t able to adequately drain.
This blockage creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and viruses that can result in sinusitis (a sinus infection) and headaches.
What are the symptoms of a sinus headache?
The follow are common symptoms associated with a sinus headache:
- Pain and pressure in one area of your face or head
- Face is tender to the touch
- Pain that becomes worse when you bend down, lean over, or make sudden movements
- Pain that becomes worse in cold and damp weather and with sudden temperature changes
- Pain that’s worse in the morning
- Congested or runny nose
In addition, you may have some of the following symptoms of sinusitis:
- Post-nasal drip (being aware of mucus running down the back of your throat)
- Discharge from your nose that’s yellowish or greenish
- Pain in the upper teeth
What are my treatment options for a sinus headache?
Often the most effective way to treat sinus headaches is by effectively treating the sinusitis that’s causing the headache. In general, lifestyle remedies such as using a nasal saline spray or humidifier can help. You can also try breathing in steam from the shower and avoiding irritants such as smoke and perfume.
In addition, one or more of the following medications may be needed:
- Over-the-counter pain medication – such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Talk to your doctor before using them for more than 10 days in a row.
- Antibiotics – can help treat sinusitis caused by bacteria
- Decongestants – can help reduce the swelling in your nasal passages
- Antihistamines – can reduce inflammation caused by allergies
- Corticosteroids – can help reduce inflammation
- Immunotherapy – small doses of an allergen administered by injection or under the tongue in order to build up your body’s tolerance to the allergen
When lifestyle remedies and medication aren’t effective enough, surgery may be needed to provide long-term relief. Surgeries are performed by an ENT specialist, and options can include the following:
- Balloon sinuplasty – a minimally invasive procedure that utilizes a thin balloon that’s inflated to open up your sinus passages and then removed. It also allows your doctor to use a saline solution to clear out mucus and pus that has built up in your sinuses.
- Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) – a minimally invasive procedure that can clear and enlarge blocked sinus passages and remove nasal polyps
- Septoplasty – used to correct a deviated septum that may be blocking your nasal passages
- Polypectomy –used to remove nasal polyps, giving blocked sinuses a better chance of clearing
- Turbinate reduction surgery – reduces the size of enlarged nasal turbinates to relieve chronic nasal obstruction
Where can I find treatment for my sinus headache in the Dallas/Fort Worth area?
The board-certified ENTs of DFW Sinus Select are dedicated to effectively treating disorders related to the nose and sinuses, including sinus headaches. We offer the latest diagnostics and minimally invasive treatments in order to effectively treat your nasal and sinus issues. In addition, we’re a regional leader in providing balloon sinuplasty, which can be used to treat chronic sinusitis and the resulting headaches.
If you have headaches you think may be sinus-related, make an appointment with DFW Sinus Select today!