Conditions We Treat: Sinus Headache

Sinus headaches are a specific type of headache that results from sinus pressure and inflammation. They tend to produce a throbbing pain in the upper part of the face and are easily confused with tension headaches and migraines, though they have a completely different cause. The sinuses are miniature air spaces within the skull, just behind the nose. They are responsible for draining mucus so that air can circulate freely.

When an upper respiratory infection such as a cold reaches the sinuses, they expand and become blocked by mucus. This causes a buildup of pressure within the sinuses known as sinusitis. When the pressure is severe enough, it affects the nerves of the face and head, creating the throbbing pain of a sinus headache. These headaches can last as long as the sinuses are blocked, which for some patients can be days or weeks.

A diagram showing different types of headache

What Are the Symptoms of A Sinus Headache?

Patients with a sinus headache will feel a consistent, dull ache near the eyes, forehead, or cheeks. The pain may only be felt in one area of the face and will often be worse in the morning and improve later in the day. Additional symptoms of sinus headaches include:

  • Pain in the teeth or jaw
  • Nasal discharge or fever
  • Increased pain when the head is moved
  • Increased pain due to temperature changes


How Are Sinus Headaches Treated?

Most of the time, sinus headaches can be treated at home without the assistance of a doctor. Over-the-counter pain relievers, decongestants, and antihistamines are excellent remedies to reduce sinus pressure and mucus. In addition to these medications, staying well hydrated, placing a warm cloth over the face, and using nasal sprays or droplets will help clear the nose. Decongestants shouldn’t be used for more than a week, so give us a call if your sinus headaches last longer than that. Sinus headaches are not normally a serious condition, but patients and parents with questions should contact us for more information.

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