Sinus Headaches

H. Farhadian, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.A.A.A.A.I.

Copyright© 2009, 2019, H. Farhadian, MD. All rights reserved. Sinus headaches are one of the most common reasons patients visit the physician's office.

During the winter months, this condition worsens due to wind, cold air and an abundance of viruses. In the spring, pollen allergy to trees and grasses, and in the fall weed pollen, could all be culprits for allergies and consequently sinusitis (sinus infection).

The symptoms include headaches and facial pain located mostly on the cheeks, eyebrows and eyeballs. The pain becomes aggravated when the head is in a downward position. Other symptoms are nasal congestion, discolored nasal discharge, postnasal drip and bad breath. Sometimes a mild fever is present. If sinusitis is not appropriately treated, it becomes chronic. In that case, the sinus headaches will be constant and treatment is more difficult but not impossible. According to recent studies, 35 million Americans are suffering from this very annoying and at times, dangerous illness. This is all the more reason for prompt and proper medical treatment.

Sinus headaches shouldn't be mistaken for other types of headaches where sinus infections and allergies do not play a major role.

Migraines are common and seen mostly in young and middle age women. This condition is manifested by periodic attacks of severe headaches, nausea, vomiting and photophobia (light sensitivity). The cause of these headaches is not always known, but sometimes it could be due to a hormonal imbalance or stress. Cluster headaches are more common in middle age men and appear as bouts of severe and throbbing head pain. These types of headaches come and go without any warning and the episodes could last several days to several weeks. Stress headaches are more common in young women and are associated with depression and stress. These headaches are manifested by dull pain, usually on the back of the head and may be accompanied by neck pain and spasm of the neck muscle. Stress headaches are persistent, i.e., the person goes to bed and wakes up with the discomfort.

Finally, less common, but a more dangerous type of headache is caused by a neurological problem. This could be due to a brain tumor, cerebral aneurysm, subdural hematoma (due to head trauma), meningitis, encephalitis, brain edema due to drugs, or a metabolic disorder.