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 Sinus Headaches


Sinus Headaches

Derek Leight, M.D.


Most headaches are caused by other things: migraine, chronic daily headache. A true, isolated sinus headache is rare. It’s very easy to say a headache that hurts in this area is your sinuses, but often times if you’re having headaches and isolation and no other sinus symptoms, then it may not be a sinus headache.

How is a sinus headache diagnosed?

The amount of time that they have had the symptom is key in figuring out if it is going to be sinus related or not. The other thing is associated symptoms. Most of the time people with true chronic sinus inflammation are going to have other symptoms such as decreased smell, facial pain, or pressure other than the headache. Typically, the headache is localized on the front of the face.

What causes a sinus headache?

People with chronic sinus disease do get a lot of headaches and they also have a lot of fatigue. Even people with allergy may be predisposed to have sinus related headaches. When we think of a true sinus headache, we think of either inflammation in the nose or sinuses irritating the nerve endings or sometimes pressure changes. So, people with allergy with inflamed openings in their sinuses or narrow openings sometimes respond to pressure changes and those pressure changes can produce headaches.

How do you treat sinus headaches?

If they do have true sinus related headache, then we are mostly going to look at how to help people with chronic sinus disease. The goals of that are improving quality of life and trying to eliminate some of the suffering and the daily fatigue that people experience.

It's common for people to blame their sinuses for a headache but an isolated sinus headache is rare. Dr. Derek Leight​, Board Certified Otolaryngologist at the Boys Town Ear, Nose & Throat Institute, explains how sinus headaches are diagnosed, what causes them and how they are treated. ​​