Sinus headache: In sinusitis the tissue that lines the sinuses becomes inflamed and swollen when fluid builds up in the sinuses. The blocked sinuses become a budding ground for microbes – as a result microbes flourish and cause infection, and then disrupt the normal & smooth flow of air inside the sinuses.

Sinus headache: sinuses drain mucus into the nasal passages when they are normal, but due to allergy, cold or bacterial infections – inflammation of the sinuses does not allow the sinuses to drain mucus. As a result, they become inflamed, swollen and congested. Sinusitis is diagnosed in a person if he or she has purulent nasal discharge for up to four weeks, which is associated with facial pressure, pain, fullness and nasal obstruction.  The pressure build-up inside the sinuses causes sinus headache.

Symptoms Associated with Sinus headache

  • Pain in the forehead
  • Pain getting worst when you lean forward
  • Uncomfortable pressure behind your forehead
  • Feeling of fatigue
  • Pain in the cheeks and jaws
  • Redness and swelling of cheeks
  • Watery eyes, runny and stuffy nose
  • Nasal congestion

Diagnosing Sinus Headache

More than 50% of the cases are misdiagnosed as sinus headache – and up to 90% of the people who see a doctor for a sinus headache get to know that they actually have migraine.

Precise diagnosis is therefore essential to know whether the symptoms associated with your headache are caused by sinuses (sinusitis). Many a times, tension headaches and migraines are misdiagnosed as sinus headache. In such cases, the treatment would not be apt; therefore, to initiate apt treatment, proper diagnosis of your headache is a must. While diagnosing your case, your doctor will try to find out whether you have nasal blockage and infection with fever along with other symptoms of sinusitis. Based on clinical examination and the symptoms you have, an ENT specialist can tell whether your headache is sinus related – or else, if you have some other issues, CT scan or MRI could be recommended to know the exact cause of your headache.


Treatment for sinus headache is mainly aimed at relieving symptoms by treating the infection that you have. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial infections – whereas viral infections are symptomatically treated. Nasal decongestants and antihistamines may also be prescribed for a short period. Longer usage of antibiotics and nasal decongestants is not recommended. In addition, pain relievers may also be prescribed to relieve pain. For allergy related sinusitis and sinus headaches, preventive allergy treatment may be recommended. Sometimes, corticosteroids may also be prescribed to relieve inflammation in the sinuses.

You can also take care of your sinusitis or headaches associated with your sinuses by adopting very simple home-based tricks, such as using vaporizers or humidifiers, drinking plenty of fluids stored at room temperature and using saltwater nasal spray.

Prolong usage of pain-relieving medicines, nasal sprays and decongestants is not good as they may prompt rebound headaches due to medication overuse. Therefore, if you are using any type of OTC medicines (pain relievers, nasal sprays) for over a week, then it is better to inform your doctor.