Sinus Headache

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

View 10 Common Allergy Triggers Slideshow Pictures

Sinus Infection and Headache Symptoms

Sinus infection is characterized by an infection of the lining tissues of the sinuses within the skull. Early signs and symptoms of a sinus infection include:

  • Pain or pressure over the involved area
  • Facial tenderness and swelling
  • Stuffy nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Earache
  • Pain in the jaw

Quick GuideSinusitis Pictures Slideshow: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Sinusitis Pictures Slideshow: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Sinus headache facts

  • Sinuses in the face are air the spaces that develop from the nasal passages and help with air humidification and mucus secretion.
  • Inflammation of the sinuses may decrease the ability for the mucus to drain, increasing pressure within the sinuses and leading to a sinus headache. Common causes of inflammation include allergies, infections, or colds.
  • Symptoms of a sinus headache include pain in the face that may worsen with bending down or straining;
  • pain that radiates to the forehead, temple or cheek;
  • Diagnosis of sinus headache is often based on history and physical examination. Blood testing and X-rays are usually not required.
  • Treatment is directed at decreasing the inflammation within the sinus passages, allowing them to drain, and decreasing the pressure that is the cause of the headache. Antibiotics may not always be necessary.
  • Home remedies to treat sinus symptoms are directed at helping the sinuses drain to help relieve pressure and inflammation. These include drinking plenty of fluid to remain hydrated, humidification of air, warm compresses to the face, and over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications.

What are the sinuses?

Sinuses of the face are cavities or spaces within the bones that help humidify air and secrete mucus to help with air filtration. Additionally, they contribute to the strength of the skull and its ability to resist trauma. The sinus cavities also allow more resonance to be added to the voice.

The sinuses are often referred to as the paranasal sinuses because of their location and connection to the back of the nose. The sinuses develop as air sacs within the bones of the skull and are named by their location.

  • Frontal sinus: located above the eyes within the frontal bone of the skull
  • Maxillary sinus: located beneath the eyes under the cheekbones within the maxilla bone of the face
  • Ethmoid sinus: located in the ethmoid bone separating the eyes from the nose
  • Sphenoid sinus: located in the sphenoid bone at the base of the skull

While infants do have sinuses, they are very poorly developed. The maxillary sinuses cannot be seen on an X-ray until 1 to 2 years of age, and the frontal sinuses are not seen until age 5 or 6.

Picture of the sinuses.
Picture of the sinuses

Picture of the sinus cavities.
Picture of the sinus cavities
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/30/2015
VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Sinus Headache - Cause

    What was the cause of your sinus headache?

    Post View 2 Comments
  • Sinus Headache - Symptoms

    What symptoms did you experience with your sinus headache?

    Post View 12 Comments
  • Sinus Headache - Remedies

    What home remedies have you found helpful in treating your sinus headaches?

    Post View 5 Comments
  • Sinus Headache - Experience

    Please describe your experience with sinus headache.

    Post View 7 Comments
  • Sinus Headache - Complications

    Have you experienced complications from a sinus headache? If so, please relate your experience.

    Post View 3 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors