iCliniq logo

Ask a Doctor Online Now

HomeHealth articlessinus headacheWhat Is Sinus Headache?

Sinus Headache - Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment.

Verified dataVerified data

4 min read


Sinus headaches are characterized by pain and pressure in the face and sinus spaces. Read the article below.

Written by

Dr. Dheeksha. R

Published At March 15, 2023
Reviewed AtJanuary 29, 2024


Sinus headache is a symptom of sinus infection characterized by pressure and pain in the sinus spaces (sinusitis), face, and eyes. Sinus infection can be triggered by a cold or allergy. It is usually associated with migraine and nasal symptoms. Sinus pain can be experienced on one side of the head.

What Is Sinus?

Sinuses are hollow spaces behind the cheekbone, head, and nose. The sinus produces mucus, which traps dust and harmful particles as air travels through the sinus space to the lungs.

What Are the Sinuses in the Head?

The paranasal sinuses are hollow spaces around the eyes and nose in the skull; They are present to

  • Decrease the weight of the head.

  • Enhance the resonance of the voice.

  • Protects the face against any trauma.

  • Control the temperature inside the nose.

The sinus also produces mucus that helps to trap dust, allergens, bacteria, and viruses and prevent them from reaching the inside of the body. If mucus builds up, there are chances of sinus infection or sinusitis. In addition, there is a thin lining at the surface of the node, so any nose infections affect the sinus, which is more prone to infections.

What Is a Sinus Headache?

The sinus headache is confused with migraine with a nasal infection. Sinus headaches are caused due to infections in the sinus called sinusitis. It causes pain and pressure in the head, eyes, and cheeks.

What Are the Causes of Sinus Headache?

Infection in the sinus causes sinus headaches. Any condition that builds up mucus leads to sinus headaches; some conditions are

  • Common cold.

  • A seasonal allergy that builds up mucus.

  • Unusual growth in the nose or sinus, called a nasal polyp, blocks mucus from being drained.

  • When the cartilage and the bone in the center of the nose are not in line, it leads to a deviated septum, which prevents mucus from draining.

Too much mucus allows the growth of germs, and as they build up, they cause irritation of the sinus, which in response causes swelling of the sinus tissue, and blocks the passage of mucus to drain. It makes a face feel tender and painful as the sinus is filled with liquid.

Does Allergy Trigger Sinus Headaches?

Allergies do not cause sinus headaches; they can cause a stuffy nose that results in infection, pain, and pressure.

What Are the Symptoms of Sinus Headache?

The symptoms of a sinus headache include

  1. Nasal congestion.

  2. Runny nose.

  3. Nasal discharge that is green or yellow.

  4. Decreased sense of smell.

  5. Pressure behind the eyes and forehead.

  6. Pain increases when the person bends forward.

  7. Fever.

  8. Fatigue.

  9. Swollen face.

What Does the Pressure Feel Like?

The pain and pressure are felt in the head and anywhere in the sinus, where the pressure and pain are felt depending on the sinus affected. Generally, the pressure is felt around and behind the eyes, cheeks, and nose area; it can also extend forward to the teeth in the upper jaw or backward to the back of the head. Swelling or puffiness of the face can occur.

What Is the Difference Between Sinus Headaches and Migraine?

Migraine and sinus headaches are mostly misdiagnosed. Migraine is caused along the trigeminal nerve, which includes the sinus passage; the person with a migraine headache tends to think of a sinus headache. The symptoms of migraine pain are similar to a sinus headache, characterized by a runny nose or nasal congestion. The treatment of sinus headache is different from that of sinus headache; the symptoms of migraine headache are;

  1. Nausea.

  2. Dizziness.

  3. Vomiting.

  4. Light and sound sensitivity.

  5. Clear mucus discharge.

What Is the Diagnosis of Sinus Headaches?

A proper diagnosis should be made as most of the time, there is confusion between migraine and sinus headache. The physician does a physical examination and asks about the symptoms.

An imaging test is done if the symptoms are ongoing and severe. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is done as it reveals any brain conditions, including

What Is the Treatment for Sinus Headaches?

Should treat the underlying cause to treat the sinus headache. Can reduce the pressure or pain of sinusitis at home through various methods, such as

  • Provide a warm compress to the painful area of the face.

  • Use a decongestant that decreases the swelling and allows the mucus to drain.

  • To thin mucus, try saline spray or drops.

  • Warm moist air helps relieve sinus congestion, where vaporizer or steam is used.

How Is a Sinus Infection Treated?

Viruses, bacteria, or fungi usually cause a sinus infection. If it is a virus, no treatment is needed. However, antifungal and antibacterial medications are recommended in bacterial or fungal infection cases.

  1. Antihistamines that prevent allergy symptoms.

  2. Decongestants that decrease swelling in the face.

  3. Painkillers.

  4. Steroids that are used to reduce inflammation.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Certain habits or health conditions can increase the risk of sinus headaches; these are

  • Structural differences like polyps or a deviated septum.

  • Weak immune system.

  • Cystic fibrosis.

  • Sensitive to allergy.

  • Nasal exposure to toxins like tobacco or cocaine.

  • Overuse of decongestants.

How Can Sinus Headaches Be Prevented?

If the person experiences recurring sinus headaches or sinus headaches due to allergies, then they must follow the prescribed medicine to handle the condition. Lifestyle changes like avoiding allergens and practicing aerobic exercise might decrease the frequency of occurrence of sinus headaches. A balloon sinuplasty surgery is the only remedy for chronic sinus headaches.

How Can Recurring Sinus Headaches Be Treated?

Most of the sinus headaches that recur are migraines. These recurring headaches can be controlled by controlling the triggers that cause the headache; some triggers are

  1. Alcohol.

  2. Caffeine.

  3. Chocolate, red wine, and cheese.

  4. Inadequate sleep.

  5. Stress and depression.

What Are the Complications?

In rare cases, the region around the eye can be inflamed and swollen; this may even affect vision. Some symptoms should be immediately consulted with the doctor, such as persistent fever, discolored nasal discharge, rattling in the chest, and breathing difficulties.


Sinus headache is usually caused by infections that occur in the sinus space called sinusitis. It is characterized by pain and pressure in the head, behind the eyes, cheeks, and nose. The common cause of sinus headaches is cold. Sinus headaches may be migraines, which have the same symptoms as nasal congestion. Treatment of sinus headaches is based on lifestyle changes and avoiding any triggering factor that causes pain and pressure. In sporadic cases, surgery is required.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Best Way to Get Rid of a Sinus Headache?

The following are the ways to get rid of a sinus headache:
 - To relieve facial discomfort, apply a warm compress.
 - To lessen sinus enlargement and enable mucus drainage, use a decongestant.
 - Use saline nasal drops or spray to thin mucus.
 - Inhale steam from a boiling water pan or use a vaporizer. 
 - Air that is warm and humid may help clear up sinus congestion


How Does a Sinus Headache Feel?

Headaches, known as sinus headaches, might mimic a sinus infection. The patient may experience pressure in the forehead, cheeks, and eyes. Maybe the head hurts.


What Should I Take for a Sinus Headache?

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, among others) or Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, among others) can be used to treat pain brought on by a buildup of pressure in the sinus canals.


How Can You Get Rid of a Sinus Headache?

Drinking lots of fluids, using a humidifier, avoiding cold, dry air, having plenty of steamy showers, and consuming hot soup or tea are natural strategies to start sinus draining and reduce sinus congestion.


How Do You Treat a Sinus Headache?

 - The main objectives of treatment are often symptom relief and infection treatment. A person may take antibiotics, antihistamines, or decongestants for a brief period. Inhaled nasal decongestants are another option, but only for three days. Longer usage may exacerbate the problems.
 - To reduce sinus inflammation, a person can also take painkillers; if those do not work, a doctor can also prescribe corticosteroids.
 - Another option is to use a bioelectronic device that generates microcurrent waveforms to reduce sinus pressure and discomfort.


Where Does a Sinus Headache Cause Pain?

A person experiences a severe, ongoing discomfort in their forehead, nasal bridge, or cheeks. When someone moves their head abruptly, the discomfort typically intensifies.


Why Do I Wake Up Every Morning With a Sinus Headache?

Due to the fact that a person's mucus accumulates and drains during the night while they sleep, they usually happen in the morning. Inhaling steam can work wonders to reduce pain and inflammation from these headaches.


What Is the Finest Sinus Headache Medicine?

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, among others) or Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) are effective painkillers for sinus pressure headaches.


How Can You Get Rid of a Sinus Pressure Headache?

The following are the ways to get rid of a sinus pressure headache:
 - Taking a Steam Bath - A steam bath may help breathe more easily and reduce sinus pressure. Taking a hot shower or using a humidifier is the easiest method. Additionally, an individual may boil some water, pour it into a bowl, and hunch her head over it so that her head is only a few inches above the water.
 - Saline Spray - Saline wash is a typical remedy for sinus discomfort and congestion. Salt is an ingredient in saline spray, which can assist in hydrating the nose and lessen sinus pressure.


What Should I Take To Relieve Sinus Pressure Headache?

The patient could take antibiotics, antihistamines, or decongestants briefly. Inhaled nasal decongestants are another option for the patient, but only for three days. The effects might get worse with continued usage.


What Is the Duration of a Sinus Headache?

In contrast to migraines, which typically last hours to a day or two, sinus headaches frequently persist for days or more.


What Medication Should I Use for a Sinus Headache?

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, among others) or Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, among others) can be used to treat pain brought on by a buildup of pressure in the sinus canals.


How Can You Get Rid of a Headache After Having Sinus Surgery?

Over-the-counter painkillers such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), Naproxen (Aleve), Acetaminophen (Tylenol), and fluids are frequently used as therapies that help in managing pain that occurs after sinus surgery.


What Can You Do to Get Rid of a Sinus Headache?

The following are the ways to get rid of sinus headaches:
 - Steam: Dryness in the air and the sinuses can raise sinus pressure and result in headaches and excruciating pain. Steam thins out mucus that may have become thicker over time, provides moisture to the air, and aids in moistening your nasal passages.
 - Saline Spray: Saline washes are frequently used to treat sinus discomfort and congestion. Salt is a saline spray component that helps enhance nasal moisture and lower sinus pressure.
 - Good Sleep: The body may mend itself with a good night's sleep. The brain releases chemicals that promote tissue development when a person is sleeping. 
 - Hydration: Drying nasal passages and increased facial pressure can be caused by dehydration. If a person feels under the weather, they should drink more water all day. Fluid intake will lessen nasal obstructions.
Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Syed Peerzada Tehmid Ul Haque
Dr. Syed Peerzada Tehmid Ul Haque

Otolaryngology (E.N.T)


sinus headache
Community Banner Mobile
By subscribing, I agree to iCliniq's Terms & Privacy Policy.

Source Article ArrowMost popular articles

Ask your health query to a doctor online

Otolaryngology (E.N.T)

*guaranteed answer within 4 hours

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. iCliniq privacy policy