The symptoms of different kinds of headaches may overlap a lot, but the causes can be very different. If you’ve been having frequent pain in your head and face, you may be surprised to learn that the issue may be your sinuses. Figuring out the source of your pain can help you find lasting relief from your sinus headache.
What is a sinus headache?
Your sinuses are open structures inside your head that help humidify the air that you breathe and enhance your voice. These cavities are lined with soft, pink tissue that is known as mucosa. When inflammation or infection occurs in the mucosa, a sinus headache can result.
“Many people mistake sinus headache symptoms for migraines or even infected teeth,” says Dr. Shah. “Properly diagnosing the cause can help us find a lasting solution for you.”
Common Signs It’s Really a Sinus Headache
If you’ve been having repeated headaches, issues with your sinuses may be the cause. Look for these telltale signs that what you have is a sinus headache:
- Pain in your cheeks, forehead and brow
A tension headache or migraine is typically felt around the back of your head. A sinus headache, by contrast, is felt mostly in the face.
- A stuffy nose
Congestion is a frequent symptom of a sinus headache.
- A runny nose
If your sinus headache is associated with a bacterial or viral infection, a runny nose can result.
- Pain that gets worse when you bend down
Bending adds pressure, which adds pain.
- Aching in your upper teeth
The lowest set of sinuses may be up against the roots of your upper teeth. If you know that you have healthy teeth, your sinuses are a more likely culprit for tooth pain.
Pain can put a lot of stress on your body. It may cause you to miss sleep or make you feel drained all on its own. Feelings of fatigue often result from sinus headaches.
- Pain when you lie down
Gravity can allow more pressure when you are in a lying position. You may find that pain is worse after lying down to sleep overnight. Try putting multiple pillows on the bed to elevate your head.
If your headache is accompanied by postnasal drip, nausea can result. Taking a decongestant and being careful to spit out any mucus can help you avoid this symptom.
- Swelling in your face
The inflammation of sinusitis may be apparent in your face, particularly around your cheeks and your eyes. This swelling may become less severe when you take a decongestant or an anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen.
If the cause of your sinus headache is a chronic sinus infection, your body may fight it off with a fever. You may also see discolored mucus. Any high fever or a fever that lasts more than a few days is a reason to consult with a doctor.