Sinus Headaches: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Sinus headaches are often confused with migraine. Here is what you should know.

2 min read
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Sinus headaches can be terrible and they may hinder your work and personal life as well. The worst thing is that people often confuse migraines with sinus headaches, which can make it difficult to get the right diagnosis. Sinus headaches may feel like an infection in the sinuses (sinusitis), characterised by pressure around the eyes, cheeks, and forehead.

Both migraine and sinusitis headaches get worse when you bend forward. Migraine can also be accompanied by similar nasal signs and symptoms like sinus headaches; they include congestion, facial pressure, and runny nose.

In this article, we will talk about the common symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment for sinus headaches. Make sure you visit the doctor if the headache persists for more than 15 days or is frequent in nature.


Sinus Headaches: Signs and Symptoms 

According to the doctors of Cleveland Clinic, the signs and symptoms of sinus headaches include:

  1. Pain and pressure around the cheeks, brows, or forehead

  2. Worsening pain while bending forward or lying down

  3. Stuffy nose

  4. Fatigue

  5. Achy jaw or teeth

  6. Fever

  7. Thick, colored mucus discharge from the nose.

  8. Feeling of fullness in the ears

  9. Swollen or puffy face.

Sinus Headaches: Risk Factors 

According to the doctors of Mayo Clinic, here are a few causes and risk actors of sinus headaches:

  • A previous history of migraines or headaches

  • A family history of migraines or headaches

  • Hormonal changes

  • Common cold

  • Seasonal allergies

  • Nasal polyps, abnormal growths in the nose or sinuses

  • Deviated septum, which prevents mucus from draining properly

Sinus Headaches: Causes and Diagnosis 

The exact cause of sinus headaches is not known yet. But when it comes to diagnosis, according to UK NHS, the provider will question you about your headaches and do a physical exam.


Your doctor may perform imaging tests to determine the cause of your headache; these may include:

  • CT scan: Use of a computer to create cross-sectional images of the brain and head by combining images from an X-ray unit.

  • MRI: A magnetic field and radio waves are used to create cross-sectional images of the structures within the brain.

Sinus Headaches: Treatment 

According to PubMed, these tips and medical treatment options can help manage and cure sinus headaches.

  • Apply a warm compress to swollen and painful areas of the face.

  • Use a decongestant to get rid of sinus swelling and mucus.

  • Try a saline nasal spray to thin mucus.

  • Use a vaporiser or steamer to help relieve sinus congestion.

At times, viral infections go away on their own. But if your infection is bacterial or fungal, antibiotics or antifungal medications may be helpful. Your healthcare provider may also recommend:

  • Antihistamines to prevent allergy symptoms

  • Decongestants to reduce swelling in the nose and sinuses

  • Pain killers to ease headache pain

  • Steroids to reduce inflammation

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Topics:  Sinusitis 

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