Sinus Headache (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What are the complications of a sinus headache?

Complications of a sinus infection (sinusitis) are rare; however, if left untreated a sinus infection may erode through the bony walls of the sinus and infect adjacent structures in the face. Two potential areas for spread of the infection include:

  • The orbit (eye socket), causing pain, swelling, and redness of the eyelid and skin surrounding the orbit. There can also be pain with any eye motion as well decreased vision.
  • The brain, causing symptoms of meningitis or encephalitis.
  • The blood vessels that run near the sinuses can develop inflammation and blood clots. Cavernous sinus thrombosis describes the inflammation and clotting of the cavernous sinus, a collection of small veins located near the sphenoid sinus, that can potentially become infected and form blood clots.

Can a sinus headache be prevented?

Sinus headaches are due to inflammation of the sinuses and their ability to drain to the back of the nose. Avoiding smoking and secondhand smoke and other allergens may decrease the risk of developing sinusitis and the headache associated with it.

Similarly, avoiding colds and other respiratory infections may decrease the risk of sinus inflammation. This may include frequent hand washing and avoiding people who are ill. Because of the pressure changes in the face that occur with flying, it is not necessarily recommended when a patient is ill with an upper respiratory tract infection or cold.

Maintaining adequate hydration and breathing humidified air at home and work will allow the normal mucus that is produced in the sinuses to drain more easily.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/28/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Sinus Headache - Cause Question: What was the cause of your sinus headache?
Sinus Headache - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you experience with your sinus headache?
Sinus Headache - Remedies Question: What home remedies have you found helpful in treating your sinus headaches?
Sinus Headache - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with sinus headache.
Sinus Headache - Complications Question: Have you experienced complications from a sinus headache? If so, please relate your experience.