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Why Do I Keep Getting Sinus Headaches?

Your head has developed that familiar throb, which worsens when you bend over, and you suspect that you’re experiencing a sinus headache, again. As you arm yourself with decongestants and brace yourself for the discomfort, you think there has to be a better way of dealing with these headaches. There is.

At Houston Sinus Surgery, our team of ear, nose, and throat experts, led by Dr. Cecil Yeung and Dr. Marcus Hershey understand just how debilitating this type of head pain can be, and our goal is to help you put an end to the ongoing discomfort.

In the following, we take a look at what causes a sinus headache, how we can treat the problem, and the possibility that your headache isn’t related to your sinuses.

Behind a sinus headache

Inside your head are four major pairs of sinus cavities, which serve many roles, including filtering and moisturizing the air you breathe. These pairs of sinuses include your:

  1. Maxillary sinuses, which are located on either side of your nose in your cheeks
  2. Frontal sinuses, which are located just above your eyes
  3. Ethmoid sinuses, which are located on either side of the bridge of your nose
  4. Sphenoid sinuses, which are located behind your eyes

When a virus makes its way into your nasal passageways, it can lead to a sinus infection (sinusitis), which causes inflammation and congestion in these cavities. At any given time, 31 million people in the United States have a sinus infection.

The most common reason why people develop a sinus infection is due to an upper respiratory infection, namely the common cold. Allergies, a deviated septum, and nasal polyps can also lead to recurring sinus infections.

The symptoms of a sinus headache

Since a sinus headache can mimic a migraine (more on this in a minute), it’s important that you understand the symptoms that are associated with a sinus headache. With a sinus headache, you may experience:

  • Pain or pressure in your sinuses
  • An increase in the pain when you move your head (especially when you bend over)
  • Fever
  • Runny nose (the mucus discharge is typically thick and colored)
  • Swelling in your face
  • Muffled hearing or a feeling of fullness in your ears

Another big clue as to whether or not you may be suffering from a sinus headache is the coexistence of other conditions, such as a cold, flu, or an allergy flare-up.

The confusion between sinus headaches, migraines, and tension headaches

It’s important to recognize that sinus headaches share some characteristics with other headaches, such as migraines and tension headaches. In fact, about 80% of people who believe they have a sinus headache are, in fact, experiencing a migraine or tension headache.

Migraines can affect the trigeminal nerve in your face, which lies close to your sinus cavities. Not only can the pain present itself similarly in sinus headaches and migraines, but people with migraines can also experience nasal congestion, watery eyes, and a runny nose.

An effective way to tell the difference between these headaches is to examine the discharge from your nose. If the mucus is clear, it’s likely that it’s not a sinus infection.

Another great step is to come see us so we can definitively identify what’s causing your headaches, which is the first, and most important, step toward finding relief.

Treating sinus headaches

If we find that your head pain is, indeed, related to your sinuses, we determine what’s causing the infection. If, for example, it’s a cold, we treat the infection with antibiotics. If, however, your recurring sinus headaches are due to a deviated septum or nasal polyps, we can effectively treat these issues to stop the headaches.

To get to the bottom of your head pain, call or book an appointment online with Houston Sinus Surgery today.

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