Sinus headaches and migraines are often commonly confused, but it’s important to know which type of headache you have since that affects the type of treatment you need.
In this blog, Dr. Cecil Yeung of Houston Sinus Surgery at the Yeung Institute explains more about sinus headaches and migraines, including whether sinus pressure can cause migraines.
What is a sinus headache?
A sinus headache is characterized by pain and pressure in the head – especially the forehead – and behind the cheekbones. Your head may hurt when you move or bend over, and your eyes may water and itch.
What causes a sinus headache?
A sinus headache is usually caused by infection and inflammation of the sinuses, which is known as rhinosinusitis. As your nasal passages become swollen, they become blocked with mucus and the area becomes congested, resulting in sinus pressure. This leads to a sinus headache.
Since its cause is rooted in sinus issues, a sinus headache is often treated with decongestants and nasal irrigation to help clear out the congested area and ease the pressure. Nasal steroids can also be used, and, if the underlying infection is caused by bacteria, antibiotics may also be prescribed.
If sinusitis (sinus infections) are chronic – defined as lasting more than 12 weeks despite attempts at treatment – surgery may be recommended in some cases if there’s an underlying cause that can be surgically corrected.
For example, if a deviated septum (a crooked or off-center wall that separates your nasal passages) is causing congestion that’s a breeding ground for infection, surgery can be used to correct this. And by correcting the issue that’s causing the inflammation, sinus headaches will also be helped.
Can sinus pressure cause a migraine?
Sinus headaches and migraines have many symptoms in common, but they’re not the same type of headache. Once the underlying sinus issue is resolved, sinus headaches should go away. But with migraines, ongoing medication may be needed to help prevent them from recurring.
Sinus pressure may be somewhat linked to migraines, however. If you have allergic rhinitis, your nasal passages can become inflamed and irritated in response to an allergen. It’s thought that the histamine release that occurs as part of the allergic reaction can cause migraines. In fact, people who have allergic rhinitis are more than 10 times more likely to suffer from migraines.
What are the symptoms of sinus headaches and migraines?
Sinus headaches and migraines have the following symptoms in common:
- Pain in the head – especially the forehead
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Worsening pain when you move
Migraines tend to also have some of the following symptoms:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Severe pain located on one size of the head
Sinus headaches and migraines are often confused, and it’s important to know which type you have so you can receive treatment that’s more likely to help.
If you’re experiencing headaches, make an appointment today for an evaluation at Houston Sinus Surgery at the Yeung Institute. We’ll correctly diagnose the type of headache you have – as well as any underlying issues that are causing them – and devise an effective treatment plan.