What Causes Severe Sinus Headache?
Most people who talk about their "severe sinus headache" do not have a problem at all with the air spaces in the skull called paranasal sinuses.
Most people with "sinus headaches" will have Migraine Headaches.
A very few might have cluster headache, but most will have Migraine.
Self-diagnosis and treatment are fine if you get better quickly and come to no harm.
However, if you are struggling with severe sinus headache you should maybe seek medical advice.
Several researchers have looked at this question of "sinus headache" in detail.
When people who believe they have "severe sinus headache" are interviewed by neurologists trained in the diagnosis of headaches, they find that almost 88% will meet criteria for Migraine.
In my own clinical practice is is fairly common to receive a referral from an ENT (Oto-Rhino-Laryngology) Specialist.
Take this scenario:
A person has complained of a severe sinus headache problem, has some plausible symptoms, but examination or investigations of the paranasal sinuses was normal. A trial of sinus treatments with Antibiotics and decongestants did not solve the problem.
As a headache specialist, I am asked what to do.
Almost always these people with an unresolved sinus headache symptom will have migraine or one of the other common headache disorders (eg cervicogenic headache, cluster headache).
In those with migraine, the sinus headaches will also have a degree of nausea, and a preference for lying down, but facial pain or nasal symptoms are more prominent than in the run-of-the-mill person with migraine.
What is good is that there is usually a good response to migraine treatment.
So if you have come here to look for an answer to your severe sinus headache, might I respectfully suggest that the diagnosis is reviewed?
If you have never seen your doctor about these headaches, a visit to your primary care physician may give you the answer.
Answer This Question To See If It Might Be Migraine:
There are also migraine questionnaires which can predict whether your sinus headaches might have a high chance of being migraine.
These questionnaires can be used in any discussion with your doctor.
To paraphrase one of the migraine questionnaires, answer this question:
- "Do you get bouts of headache where you feel sick and want to lie down?"
If you answer yes, then you have a greater than 80% chance the most accurate diagnosis is Migraine!
A proportion of people with Migraine will report a feeling of congestion in their nose, and about 40% of people with migraine will experience pain in the face during an otherwise typical migraine episode.
When Migraine affects the face it will often be on one side during one headache and be on the other in the next headache.
This is unlike paranasal sinus infection, where the pain is usually locked to one side only.
What about Classic Sinus Headache Symptoms?
Paranasal sinuses that are congested with mucous will continue to give pain on one side only. In these Ordinary Sinus Headaches, painful teeth on the upper gum are also a clue to maxillary sinus infection.
The most difficult sinus infection to diagnose is Sphenoid Sinusitis, as there is usually a complete lack of classic sinus symptoms eg running nose, nasal discharge or congestion.
All that is present is a new onset non-specific headache, which could be on the top of head, back of head or over the forehead.
The pain in Sphenoid Sinusitis can be made worse with exercise and often prevents sleep. Painkillers are hardly ever effective.
You may wonder - are there any sinus headache remedies available? My first response to this is to confirm the diagnosis, as this increases the chance of satisfactory treatment.
There is a high chance that you do not need a sinus headache treatment but that you need a diagnosis of migraine confirmed and migraine treatment offered!
The likely secret to sinus headache relief is to have a diagnosis made and if in doubt have the sinus headaches treated as migraine.
Read about what else causes headache
That's a quick summary of Severe Sinus Headache. You could go to the Home Page from here.