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Sinus Headache Symptoms and Treatment: Finding Relief

Medically reviewed by Nicole Aliling, MD · Neurology · Centre Médicale Internationale

Written by Kip Soliva · Updated Dec 14, 2020

Sinus Headache Symptoms and Treatment: Finding Relief

Are you having problems with sinus headaches all the time? It can cause a great deal of inconvenience, not to mention the fact that it can be very painful. This article will look into sinus headache symptoms and treatment, so you can take the right steps to deal with this condition.

What is a Sinus Headache?

The sinuses are spaces that are air-filled behind the forehead, cheekbones, and nose. These spaces can get inflamed because of infection or due to allergic reactions. When that happens, there is an increase in the amount of mucus produced and the tissues start to swell. Things can get worse when the channels that drain the additional mucus become clogged.

The swelling and the pressure caused by the buildup of trapped mucus will soon start to cause pain. The pain is similar to that of a headache and can be very uncomfortable.

What are the Symptoms of a Sinus Headache

The most common symptom of a sinus headache is constant pain that can be felt in specific spots. These spots on the head include:

  • Forehead
  • Cheekbones 
  • Bridge of the nose
  • In between the brows (glabella)

As you may have noticed, behind those spots are the sinuses. When you move your head or do something strenuous, the pain may worsen. Other symptoms of this condition  include:

  • A runny nose
  • A full/ blocked sensation in the ears
  • Green or yellowish discharge from the nose
  • Swelling in the face
  • Swelling around the eyes, or dark discoloration of the area under the eye
  • Fever
  • The pain becomes more intense when you lean forward

You may also get a general feeling of tiredness or dull pain in your top jaw and dull pain near the cheeks. It is also possible that you will notice some kind of redness on your cheeks and nose.

Headaches: Types, Causes, Remedies

Sinus Headaches and Migraines

The other kinds of recurring headaches like migraines are often mistaken for a sinus headache and vice versa. Now, the causes of migraine and the other types of headaches are different and that means the treatment for them is different, too. 

It’s crucial that you understand the actual cause of the headache when seeking treatment. For example, if the headache is being caused by a blockage due to an infection of the sinus, the infection will need to be addressed first. 

Unfortunately, it is common to mistake the causes of headaches for something else. In fact, 50% of all migraine misdiagnosis starts out as a sinus headache diagnosis. What’s even worse is that 90% of people who go to doctors seeking treatment for sinus headaches turn out to have migraines.

Treatments and Relief for Sinus Headaches

Doctors normally recommend allowing a sinus infection to run its course. For most adults, that’s the best way to deal with this condition. It may be painful and uncomfortable, but it is the one recommended by the doctors. Things are different when you experience fever, too much pain, or if the infection lasts for more than a week.

The good news is that there are some home remedies which you can try. These home remedies are aimed at easing the symptoms. The main aim of the home remedies is to lessen the congestion inside the sinuses.


The simplest step that you can take is to use a humidifier in the room where you are staying. That may help to lessen the congestion a bit.

Saline solution

Another proven way of giving relief is running a saline solution or irrigating your sinuses with the solution.

Steam inhalation

Breathing in steam can also help sometimes as it helps to open up the clogged space. You can also apply a warm wet towel over the areas of your sinuses to relieve some of the symptoms of the condition. 

Relieving pressure spots

You can also try to work on helping to drain your sinuses by pressing on the spots where you can feel the pressure. Start at the bridge of your nose as that is where the most pressure normally builds up. You can tap on it lightly or you can apply continuous pressure on the spot for 60 seconds. Doing these steps may help to loosen the mucus trapped there.

The areas underneath your eyes can also be an effective spot to work on. You can press down on it and push up and in on the spots and you may experience the same kind of relief as pressing on the bridge of your nose.

Blow your nose

Sometimes, blowing your nose can help to relieve the pressure you are feeling. The proper way of doing that is by pressing on both sides of your nose lightly and then tilting your head a bit forward and then blowing your nose. 

Medications for Sinus Headache

There are analgesic medications that you can purchase over-the-counter which can help in relieving the pain caused by clogged sinuses. They can help in dulling the pain and ease other symptoms like the ache in your jaw and even fever.

Just keep in mind that analgesic medications do not treat the cause of the pain, which are the clogged sinuses. So, if you continue to feel the symptoms, then you should seek medical help. You can also use decongestant medications if home remedies are not working.

Key Takeaways

Sinus headaches can be a real problem especially if they occur all the time. They can affect your life considerably. It’s important that you know the causes behind sinus headache symptoms and treatment so consult your doctor for proper diagnosis. 

Learn more about Headaches and Migraines here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Nicole Aliling, MD

Neurology · Centre Médicale Internationale

Written by Kip Soliva · Updated Dec 14, 2020

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