If you suffer from allergies, you may have congested sinuses as well, and this can lead to a sinus pressure headache. If you're wondering how to get rid of a sinus pressure headache, the first thing you need to understand is that these types of headaches can have several causes. Consequently, sinus headaches have a few different remedies.
Symptoms of Sinus Pressure Headaches
Sinus headaches are the result of swelling or inflammation in the mucosal lining of the nose and sinuses. This swelling can cause a sensation of pressure in the head, face and behind the eyes, which is often accompanied by pain in the form of a headache, pain around the eyes, and pain in the face. These symptoms can get worse with movements such as lying or bending down.
Sinus headaches typically have other symptoms that coincide with them. These symptoms usually resemble a head cold and can include:
- Nasal congestion
- Post nasal drip
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Causes of Sinus Pressure Headaches
Sinus headaches and inflammation can have a number of causes, including:
- Common cold virus or other rhinoviruses
- Flu virus
- Changes in humidity
Each of these different causes has different treatments, so it’s important to understand what is causing your symptoms in order to find a successful treatment.
How to Get Rid of a Sinus Pressure Headache
If your sinuses feel dry, or if you have thick, dried mucous in your nasal passages, your symptoms are probably caused by a lack of humidity. This typically occurs during the winter months when most people use their heaters or furnaces, but it can also occur with the use of air conditioning.
The most successful treatment for this type of sinus pain is to increase the humidity in your home or office. You can use a humidifier for this or take a hot shower and allow the steam to penetrate your sinuses. Drinking hot beverages such as tea or eating a bowl of hot soup can also help rehydrate the nasal passages and sinuses. It’s also important to drink plenty of fluids so that you stay hydrated and to avoid dry air coming from an air conditioner or heater.
Allergies are another common cause of sinus headaches and pain. They are typically seasonal, but many people suffer with them all year long. If you are suffering from sinus pressure and headaches that are the result of allergies, there are a couple of treatments you can try.
Antihistamines are the most popular treatment for allergies. They are available over-the-counter at your local pharmacy or through a prescription. Some of the most common antihistamines found over-the-counter include:
- Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
- Claritin (loratadine)
- Zyrtec (cetirizine)
There are several antihistamines that can be prescribed by your primary care physician. The most common of these are:
- Antivert (meclizine)
- Allegra (fexofenadine)
- Tavist (clemastine)
- Vistaril (hydroxyzine)
- Phenergan (promethazine)
- Clarinex (desloratadine)
- Xyzal (levocetirizine)
Antihistamines will help prevent the allergies from causing sinus symptoms, but that doesn’t help if you already have a sinus headache. To help get rid of an active sinus headache, anti-inflammatory medications work the best. The most common over-the-counter meds include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as:
- Advil (ibuprofen)
- Aleve (naproxen)
- Tylenol (acetaminophen)
If over-the-counter medications aren’t strong enough, prescription strength anti-inflammatories may be required. There are two types of prescription anti-inflammatories: NSAIDs and steroids. These medications include:
If you prefer to avoid conventional medications, or can’t find something that works, there are alternatives that you can try.
Alternative Methods for Sinus Pressure Headache Relief
Fortunately, there are several different alternative treatments for sinus pressure and pain. Irrigating your sinuses with a saltwater mix can help alleviate irritation and inflammation caused by a lack of humidity. It can also help flush out the sinuses if you have been suffering from a cold or the flu. There are a variety of over-the-counter saline nasal sprays to try, or you can use an old-fashioned neti pot or a bulb syringe to do the job.
Warm and cold compresses can also offer relief. A warm compress over the nose and eyes can help loosen the mucous and alleviate pressure, and a cold compress can help resolve any excess inflammation. Start with a hot compress, and leave it on your face for about three minutes, then follow that with a cold compress for about 30 seconds. Alternate the compresses a total of three times and repeat four times a day.
Another way to relieve sinus pressure headaches is to add a bit of spice to your diet. Capsaicin, the ingredient that makes spicy food hot, also has anti-inflammatory properties. A bit of hot sauce in a bowl of soup or on your dinner can help loosen up the sinuses and allow them to drain.
The occasional sinus headache happens to everyone, but if you are having sinus pressure headaches regularly, it’s best to see a headache specialist. Call the National Headache Institute today to schedule a consult with one of our expert physicians. We have several locations to serve you and a variety of treatment options available – all of which have the power to stop your sinus pressure headaches indefinitely.