The symptoms of a sinus headache aren't pleasant. They can make you feel downright miserable. If you think you've been hit with a sinus headache, you'll want to know what the causes, treatments, and other issues could be.
Sinus congestion and inflammation associated with allergies or the cold and flu can lead to sinusitis and sinus infections that can cause sinus headaches. When the sinus passages get blocked, mucous can't drain.
The pain from a sinus headache generally causes facial pain such as pressure behind the eyes or around the cheeks and forehead. Often, the pain is throbbing, and your face may feel tender to the touch. Already severe pain can get worse when you bend forward or turn your head suddenly.
Impaired Sense of Smell or Foul Odor
It isn't unusual for a sinus headache to decrease your sense of smell. Thick mucous and swollen mucous membranes in your sinuses can interfere with the smell receptors in your nose. The mucus itself can give off an unpleasant odor if infection is present.
Bacteria present in drainage from the nose that is yellow or green in color can cause a foul odor. As the infection clears, the odor will go away.
Nasal corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation of the nasal passages. Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics to treat a sinus infection. Take all of the antibiotic medication even if you begin to feel better within a couple of days. Sinus infections can lead to complications if not treated properly. If symptoms persist after completing a course of antibiotics, contact your doctor. There may be something more serious going on.
In cases of mild to moderate sinusitis, self-treatment is usually enough to alleviate a sinus headache.
Rinse sinuses with a saline nasal spray several times a day to help thin secretions.
Use an over-the-counter antihistamine and nasal decongestant if your sinus headache is allergy related. Antihistamines block the release of histamine -- a chemical in the body that starts the allergic response.
Breathe in the mist of warm steam from a humidifier to loosen mucous.
Avoid being near people who smoke. Smoke is an irritant that can cause the lining of your nasal passages to swell.
Consider visiting a clinic like Allergy & Asthma Clinics of Fox Valley for more help managing and controlling sinus infections.
When It's Not a Sinus Headache
In some cases, it's hard to tell the difference between a sinus headache and a tension headache, migraine, or other medical problem. Here are signs that it may be more than a sinus headache:
Localized head pain is in one eye and the eye is red. It could be a sign of glaucoma -- an eye disease that leads to vision loss. Other symptoms include halos and blurred vision.
Headache is accompanied by changes in your speech or vision, tingling or numbness in a limb, confusion, or loss of balance.
Headache in addition to symptoms such as high fever, sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting, and a stiff neck could indicate meningitis.
If you experience any of these sets of symptoms, it's important to seek emergency medical attention even if you think your headache is only from a cold or flu.