Imagine living most days with a constant sniffle, watery eyes, an irritated throat, and a headache that refuses to leave. Before you know it, your work and everyday activities get affected. Even enjoying something as simple as a cold glass of water after a hot day yields no joy.
Sinus headaches are more common than you think, often not taken seriously. Most people simply wait it out and go with the flow, with the thought that “this too shall pass”. However, that doesn’t mean you should put up with it and let the bacteria breed another day.
What are sinus headaches?
To understand sinus headaches, you need to first familiarize yourself with where your sinuses are located. Sinuses on your face comprise of frontal sinuses (located on the forehead), maxillary sinuses (located inside your cheekbones), and ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses (located behind the nose). Essentially, sinuses are airy spaces in your skull and facial region, forming the passageway from your nose into your throat.
A sinus attack is treatable and can be self-diagnosed. Inflammation in your nasal passages and sinuses owing to a bacterial infection is called sinusitis. This growth in bacteria and inflammation leads to pressure on your face, resulting in facial swelling, dizziness, fatigue, toothaches, sore throat, among other symptoms. But perhaps the worst symptom of a sinus attack is sinus headaches. They make your head feel stuffy and derail you from performing your daily functions. The headache can make a person irritable and instantly tired.
Causes of a Sinus Headache:
More often, sinus headaches are triggered by an allergic reaction or change in weather, resulting in symptoms that resemble a common cold. Hay Fever – an allergy caused by pollen or dust – affects the mucous membranes thus leaving your eyes watery and nose runny.
Another reason that triggers a sinus headache is bacterial infections. Interestingly, viral infections can trigger a sinus headache, too, with symptoms that are too similar. Viral infections last for a few days whereas bacterial infections can last for 7 days and beyond.
Causes of a Sinus headache are not that easy to conclude but certain factors can be taken into account. Lung irritants like smoking can cause a sinus attack and its repeated use will just make them worse, sometimes resulting in worse repercussions.
Another reason that can result in a bad sinus headache is a fungal presence. They are usually rare to catch but one cannot eliminate the possibility. Allergic Fungal Sinusitis may affect those with lung and respiratory issues such as asthma or nasal polyps. Fungal Sinusitis requires surgery and therapies such as immunotherapy and anti-inflammatory therapy.
Sinus Attack – Serious signs to watch out for:
With viral and bacterial infections, the sinuses swell up, produce more mucus (either yellow or green), make your breath smell bad, and generally leave you with a headache that exhausts you.
Here are some signs that would require a doctor’s attention:
- When sinus headache symptoms last for more than 10 days without showing any signs of improvement.
- When you are running a high temperature.
- When you show signs of improvement but immediately fall sick again, probably worse than before.
- When your vision is unclear or abnormal.
- When you are too tired and lose a sense of alertness.
- When your upper jaw hurts and leads to a painful toothache.
But it should be noted that while sinus attacks and migraines show similar signs and symptoms, they are completely different, caused by completely different reasons. However, what sets them apart is the duration. Migraines last for a few hours or maximum an entire day. Sinus headaches go on for days, sometimes even weeks. Moreover, migraines also lead to nausea, vomiting, and intolerance towards bright lights and loud noises.
Sinus Headache Treatment & Prevention:
- Before you go to the doctor, identify if your sinus headache could be due to an allergic reaction. If yes, make a list of what you are allergic to and present it to the doctor. This saves time and quickens the treatment process. Also, note if your headache could be a long migraine.
- Nasal douching with a saline solution can open up your sinuses and flush the blockage out. Nasal douching helps greatly in clearing out the mucus from your nasal passage and helps you breathe easy again.
- Focus on clearing dry air from your house. Humidifier benefits are aplenty. They help in keeping the room moist and letting your pores open up. Additionally, you can frequently put a hot and moist towel on your face.
- Much like a humidifier, using a saline-based nasal spray can help clean the mucus and help keep the cilia in your nose healthy.
- Do not indulge in smoking or stay in kitchens or factories that emit a lot of smoke. This would worsen your symptoms and make it difficult to treat them on time. If you are a habitual smoker, then use this time to practice ways to kick the habit.
- Drink a lot of water. You are likely to be very dehydrated, so up that water intake to 8-10 glasses and get plenty of sleep. Since you would be tired, it’s better to rest first instead of overworking yourself and worsening the symptoms.
- While there are plenty of over-the-counter medicines to choose from, you should understand your symptoms well and get an expert opinion. The doctor is likely to recommend antibiotics based on how bad your condition is. While you can treat yourself in other aspects, medicines should be prescribed by a doctor.
Ultimately, it all boils down to how well you maintain your health and lifestyle, while also taking action when something feels amiss in your body. As the adage goes, health is wealth. Head out to Neuberg Diagnostics and get preventive check-ups to identify underlying issues that could bring your body down.