Headaches are a common symptom of many medical conditions, including the common cold, migraines, sinusitis, and other upper respiratory ailments. But how do you know if those daily headaches are because of a sinus infection or something else? Headaches are nothing to take lightly and can make life downright miserable, especially if you’re among the five percent who experience them daily, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. If you suspect your daily headaches are because of an underlying sinus infection, take a moment to learn about some common causes and seek treatment at the Southern California Sinus Institute for immediate and long-term relief.
Anatomy of a Sinus Headaches
Sinus headaches occur when pressure and mucus build up in the sinus cavities and airways inside the nose. Though rare, sinus headaches can also occur in the absence of congestion. Besides frequent headaches, sinus sufferers may experience intense pressure and tenderness above and below their eyes, in the sinus cavity areas surrounding their noses and even in their jaws or necks. Headaches are often one of the most painful symptoms of sinus infections.
Head pain related to sinusitis is often secondary to other health conditions, such as migraines, hypertension, allergies. Though most types of headaches are manageable with pain relievers and other remedies, those that involve sinus infections typically require treatment of the underlying condition and infected sinus cavities for relief.
Daily Sinus Headaches Trigger
Enlarged Turbinate – Inside of the nose are conchae or turbinates that help moisten, filter, and warm the air you breathe before it circulates throughout your body. Normally, these structures change in size and shape because of temperature and weather changes and when in contact with mild environmental air irritants. Individuals who are sensitive to pollen, pet dander, dust, and other environmental air microorganisms or pathogens or have allergies are prone to enlarged turbinates.
The swelling increases the pressure inside the sinus cavities and decreases the size of the airways and nostrils, causing pain in the head and areas surrounding the eyes, nose, and jaw. Untreated, enlarged turbinates can lead to snoring, dry mouth, nosebleeds, changes in smell and taste, rhinitis, and migraines.
Deviated Septum – The septum is a wall-like structure in the nose that divides it into two symmetrical nostrils. Most people are born with a normal, straight nasal septum and develop some slight deviations due to aging, injury, or trauma, and other medical, personal, and environmental factors. Chronic sinus infections, or sinusitis, allergies, and other upper respiratory ailments can cause the septum to collapse resulting in partial or complete obstruction of the nasal cavity. The symptoms of a deviated septum are often overlooked and attributed to nasal congestion and mucus buildup that comes and goes with colds and rhinitis.
Many patients with active and dormant sinus infections have some degree of a deviated septum and/or other nasal structure abnormalities, such as polyps. Irregular septum anatomy symptoms include progressive allergy symptoms, recurring/prolonged sinus infections, headaches and facial pain, nose stuffiness, nosebleeds, and snoring.
Allergies and Pathogens – Frequent or prolonged exposure to allergens, viruses, bacteria, and germs are a source of daily headaches and facial pain for many people. Allergies develop when the sinus cavities and mucus lined airways inside the nose and skull become irritated, causing them to swell and retain mucus instead of allowing it to drain properly. The swelling increases the pressure inside the sinus cavities and airways and obstructs proper airflow, leading to throbbing or steady pain and tenderness in the head, cheek, eye, and forehead areas.
Allergy-related headaches are more likely to occur in individuals with nasal congestion, untreated sinus infections, viral or bacterial infections, or abnormal internal nasal structures.
Symptoms That Require Medical Treatment
Headaches, especially those involving sinus infections can be quite tricky to manage at home without medical intervention. It is possible for some people to manage their sinus headaches and symptoms with over-the-counter pain relievers and decongestants, proper hydration, and self-care. However, those measures alone are not effective for everyone, nor do they provide long-term relief. If you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s time to see Dr. Alen N. Cohen, MD, FACS, for ENT treatment.
- Head or facial pain that persists
- Sinus symptoms that initially improve
- Symptoms that get progressively worse
- Fever for more than 24-48 hours
- Nasal discharge that may be clear, greenish, or yellowish
- Nasal congestion
- Postnasal drip or sore throat
- Sensitivity to light
- Recurring sinus infections
- Sinus pressure or pain that gets worse at night or shortly after waking up
The Southern California Sinus Institute offers minimally invasive in-office balloon sinuplasty, deviated septum repair, turbinate reduction, and other sinus and ENT repair options to anyone in the Los Angeles area seeking relief from the pain, discomfort and breathing challenges associated with allergies, sinus infections, and other common ear, nose, and throat disorders.
Get Immediate Relief From Daily Sinus Headaches
Sinus headaches and infections often resolve on their own, but not always! Some people are prone to frequent sinus infections and headaches and experience greater relief with the right steroid, antibiotics or allergy medications, nasal rinses or sprays, lifestyle recommendations, or in-office balloon procedures. It may not be possible to avoid or prevent sinus headaches entirely, but the right medical care is crucial to protect your health and overall quality of life.
Call (818) 888-7878 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Cohen for a proper diagnosis to rule out migraines, TMJ, and other types and causes of headaches. He’ll also provide personalized recommendations that provide immediate and effective long-term relief from headaches and other distressing and annoying sinus infection symptoms.