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At Home Treatment for Sinus Headache

Headache Sufferer

There are many types of headaches; and different headaches have different causes.  As such, tension headaches, stress headaches, migraine headaches and sinus headaches should be treated differently.

Sinus headaches are caused by inflammation of the sinuses. Inflammation keeps the sinuses from draining properly and this causes pressure to build-up. The pressure causes the pain.

An occasional sinus headache can usually be successfully treated at home. However, if you have sinus headaches after every cold or allergy attack or if your sinus headaches won’t go away, you might have chronic sinusitis. That is a condition that needs to be treated by an otolaryngologist (ENT).

Sinus headache symptoms

When the sinuses don’t drain properly, air, mucus and pus gets trapped inside. You may feel pain under the eyes and in the upper jaw and teeth. Some people mistake a sinus headache for a toothache and visit the dentist only to have the dentist discover a blocked maxillary sinus on an X-ray.

Sinus headaches generally get worse when you change positions such as leaning over or lying down. These at-home sinus headache relief methods are designed to reduce inflammation and encourage drainage.

Moisture helps

Moisture brings relief for many sinus headaches. There are many different ways to use moisture. You can breathe steam from a pot of boiling water, inhale the steam from a shower, or even use a humidifier. Dry or thick mucus can’t drain. It will block the sinus passage and make your pain worse. By thinning the mucus the sinus passages can drain more easily.

  • Nasal Irrigation. Use a neti pot or nasal irrigator to rinse the sinuses with a warm, sterile saline solution. This will remove dried mucus. Nasal irrigation reduces inflammation and promotes to drainage.
  • Saline Spray. Saline spray adds moisture, thins mucus and helps with drainage. Saline sprays are not the same as nasal decongestant sprays. Saline nasal spray can be used frequently. Nasal decongestants must be used with extreme care.
  • Compresses. Moist compresses applied to the sinus area also bring relief. The application of moist heat will thin the mucous and increase drainage. This reduces pain.
  • Drink Water. Be sure to stay well-hydrated as well. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day to keep mucus thin.  Avoid dairy-based drinks as they can cause mucous to be thick.

Over-the-counter medications

The most common over-the-counter medications for sinus headaches are decongestants, antihistamines and NSAIDS. These drugs may be sold individually or in combination.

  • Decongestants. Decongestants reduce inflammation in the blood vessels. This helps thin mucus and promote drainage. While you should always drink eight glasses of water a day, you must drink plenty of fluids when taking decongestants. Use nasal decongestant sprays with extreme caution. These sprays can provide temporary relief create a rebound effect. The decongestant reduces the blood vessels in the nose and this reduces inflammation. However, the blood vessels become immune to the medication and you must spray more and more. Side effects of decongestants include nervousness, problems sleeping, and dizziness.  Don’t take over the counter decongestants without talking to your doctor if you have any of these conditions:
    • Diabetes
    • Glaucoma
    • Heart conditions
    • High blood pressure
    • Prostate problems
    • Thyroid problems
  • Antihistamines.  Antihistamines can provide relief if the inflammation is caused by an allergic reaction. However, antihistamines only work for allergic reactions. Some formulas can cause drowsiness. Other side effects include dizziness, dry mouth, nausea and blurred vision.
  • NSAIDs.  Non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications reduce inflammation. NSAIDs are ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin. Use NSAIDs with care as frequent use of can cause stomach upset and bleeding.

When to see and ENT

If these at home treatments fail or if your headaches return time and again, it is time to see the ENT. The ENT will determine the underlying cause of the blockage sinus and prescribe a course of treatment to give you relief. Balloon sinuplasty is now available to reshape the sinus openings and increase drainage.