When you feel like your head is about to explode from pressure in your sinuses, you may have a sinus pressure headache. This sensation can be extremely uncomfortable, and even painful. Once you realize what type of headache you have and what is causing it, you can seek the proper treatment.
Causes of Sinus Pressure Headaches
Sinuses are spaces filled with air throughout your skull. They are located behind your nose, in your forehead, and in your cheekbones. Each sinus cavity is lined by mucous membranes that excrete liquid, which is drained by small ducts connected to the nasal cavity. When the membranes get inflamed for any reason, they swell up and produce excess mucus, blocking their drainage channels. This, in turn, causes pressure in your sinuses which can feel like a sinus pressure headache.
There are a few causes of sinus inflammation, which is also called sinusitis. These include:
- Infection – this can be a viral, fungal, or bacterial infection
- Irritation – you may be sensitive to something in the environment or to something you’ve eaten
- Allergic reaction – hay fever is an example
- Tumors – a malignant or benign tumor can block the drainage ducts, but this is extremely rare
There are various symptoms that may accompany a sinus pressure headache. In most cases, you will feel pressure and pain over the sinuses, and it may be tender to the touch. Certain positions may intensify the pain. Because the sinuses are unable to drain back into the head, you may notice a discharge from the nose.
If the headache is caused by an infection, you may experience other symptoms. These include nasal discharge that is a greenish-yellow color, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, chills, and fever. Depending on the location of the inflammation, there may also be a pain in the teeth or jaw.
For those interested in conservative treatment for a sinus pressure headache, there are numerous self-care things to do at home. These can help with drainage and decrease congestion, and they include:
- Using a humidifier
- Staying hydrated by drinking lots of clear fluids
- Using saline nasal sprays or a neti-pot
- OTC meds such as decongestants, pain relievers, and antihistamines
If home remedies do not help, it is a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor. You should seek a physician or other healthcare professional if you are frequently reaching for pain medicine, you have headache symptoms more than 15 days each month, or the headaches interfere with daily activities such as work or school. You should make an immediate appointment with your doctor if you have severe facial swelling, changes in vision, or a high fever for an extended period of time.
A doctor will note your symptoms and perform a physical exam to see what the cause of the headaches are. In certain cases, further diagnostic testing, like blood work or a CT scan, may be necessary. Once the cause is determined, a treatment plan will be recommended.
The goal of treatment is to bring symptom relief and eliminate any infection. A doctor may prescribe a stronger pain reliever or corticosteroid to reduce the inflammation. If allergies are the cause of the congestion, allergy medication may be prescribed.
In severe cases in which someone has recurrent and long-term cases of sinus issues, a doctor may recommend surgery. This can help widen the sinus openings and encourage drainage or remove any polyps that are blocking the ducts.
Make an Appointment Today
There is no need to suffer from a sinus pressure headache. If you have tried a number of home remedies and nothing helps, contact the National Headache Institute for further relief consultation and to see how they can help.