Sinus Headache

Definition

Sinus headache refers to head and facial pain associated with congestion, inflammation, or infection of the sinuses (sinusitis). The sinuses are hollow cavities in the skull that have openings into the nose. Colds and allergies cause congestion and inflammation of the nasal passages and can lead to sinusitis. Sinus headache is a symptom of sinusitis.
Sinus Headache: Areas of Pain
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Causes

Allergies and viral upper respiratory infections increase nasal secretions and cause tissue lining the nasal passages to swell. This results in nasal congestion and stuffiness. The opening into the sinuses become blocked and normal drainage cannot occur. Secretions that are trapped in the sinuses build up and may become infected with bacteria or, rarely, fungus. The swollen tissue, mucous build-up, or infection may create pain and pressure.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of a sinus headache include:
  • Allergies, such as allergic rhinnitis or asthma
  • Persistent cold or upper respiratory infection
  • Ear infections
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • Nasal polyps
  • Nasal deformities, such as a deviated septum
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Problems with immunity
  • Prior sinus surgery
  • Facial injuries that block sinus passages
  • Traveling in an airplane if you have an upper respiratory infection
  • Tooth abscess or infection
  • Swimming in dirty water

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