Updated February 2021

Many people experience sinus headaches. This condition can be triggered by a number of factors, such as infections and allergens. One of the most common symptoms is congestion, which leads to pressure and pain. Although congestion is normally associated with a sinus headache, this is not always the case. There are other ailments that can contribute to this discomfort.


What is a Sinus Headache?

Rhinosinusitis is the medical term used to describe a sinus headache. With this type of headache, the sinuses become inflamed due to a viral or bacterial infection. The body produces mucus as a way of fighting off the infection. However, the combination of mucus and the inflammation produces congestion that blocks the sinuses. This, in turn, creates a buildup of pressure. Often people confuse a sinus headache with a migraine. Sinus-related headaches have distinctive symptoms. Aside from throbbing pain around the forehead, eyes, and nose, the following are other common symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Postnasal drip
  • Nasal congestion
  • Discolored mucus
  • Bad breath
  • Loss of smell
  • Fever


Individuals suffering from allergies or upper respiratory infection are prone to experiencing sinus headaches. In most cases, the headache starts in the morning and worsens when you bend over. Although there are numerous over-the-counter medications marketed to relieve sinus headaches, they are not always as effective as a long-term solution.

Common Causes and Symptoms of Sinus Headaches


Often individuals experiencing a sinus headache may also have sinusitis. The term refers to the inflammation of the sinuses. Sinus inflammation occurs when viruses and bacteria buildup in the sinus cavity. Once inflamed, intense pain in and around the head region, eyes, and nose occurs. In these instances, there is no sinus congestion causing the discomfort. A common treatment for this condition is antibiotics.


Deviated Septum

A crooked nasal cavity is known as a deviated septum. It’s caused by either a facial injury or abnormal growth development. It’s common to experience mild to severe sinus head pain. A deviated septum makes it difficult for nasal drainage to flow naturally. Additionally, the condition interferes with air flow circulation and hinders proper breathing. However, there is no congestion involved with this ailment. The most effective treatment for alleviating this medical problem is surgical intervention to straighten the septum.



TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint. Your TMJ is the joint connecting your upper and lower jaw bone. Many people develop pain in this location. The joint pain typically results from jaw clenching and teeth grinding throughout the day or during sleep. The bones rub together and produce sinus headaches, eye pain, and nasal aches. However, there is no sinus congestion with TMJ-related sinus headaches. Individuals seeking relief from TMJ usually require surgery to repair joint damage.

Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps develop along the lining of the nasal cavity. The characteristics of these polyps are that they vary in size and are non-cancerous. For the most part, they don’t cause any major problems or side effects. However, they do pose a serious problem when they grow excessively large. There are telltale signs that you have swollen nasal polyps. These include the following:

  • Enlarged nose
  • Widened eyes
  • Extreme sinus headaches and pain


In rare situations, the only solution is surgery. In more common cases, patients get relief from sinus headaches from using nasal steroid sprays.


Put an End to Sinus Headaches at National Headache Institute!

Sinus headaches can have a negative impact on your quality of life. As you see, congestion is not the only cause of headache pain. There may be other medical issues at play. Are you seeking relief? Contact us today at the National Headache Institute for a free consultation at any of our three headache clinic locations. Our trained specialists can provide you with an effective treatment plan so that you can say goodbye to headaches once and for all.