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.

Quick GuideSinus Infection (Sinusitis) Symptoms and Treatment Options

Sinus Infection (Sinusitis) Symptoms and Treatment Options

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.

What is a sinus headache?

If the linings of the ducts or tubes that connect the sinuses to the back of the nose become inflamed, the sinuses may not be able to drain normally, and pressure may build up within the blocked sinus. There may also be associated swelling and inflammation of the lining of the sinuses, resulting in increased mucus and fluid secretion. This increase in fluid combined with the inability to drain increases pressure within the sinus cavity, causing the pain of a sinus headache. The term sinusitis is used to describe inflammation of the sinus. Continue Reading

Picture of the sinus cavities.
Picture of the sinus cavities
Reviewed on 10/30/2015
References
REFERENCE:

Rakel, D. and R. E. Rakel. Textbook of Family Medicine,98th ed. Saunders, 2015.

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