Sinus Headaches

What causes sinus headaches?

While the sinuses are commonly thought of as the most likely source of facial pressure and pain, many studies have shown this is untrue. In fact, there are many complex causes of facial pressure. You experience pain when nerve fibers in different tissue layers are activated. Nerves can be activated from irritation or injury to any of the tissue layers overlying the sinuses, such as muscle or skin. This can feel like the pain is coming from the sinuses, when it could actually be from the tissues overlying the sinuses.

One step further, some of these pain sensations originate in the brain, and the brain can make it feel like the pain is coming from the face and sinuses.

Some primary headache disorders, such as migraine, tension headaches or cluster headaches, can also lead to facial pressure. These primary headache conditions can even cause nasal congestion and runny nose. Some symptoms that suggest a primary headache condition rather than sinusitis include light or sound sensitivity, spinning sensations, or headaches that occur in locations other than the cheeks or forehead.

Learn more about the headache disorders we treat.

Sinus headache treatment options

Treatment for sinus headaches varies depending on the cause. If patients have facial pressure with no other signs or symptoms of sinusitis, they may be best treated by a physician specializing in headache disorders. If sinusitis is the cause of your facial pressure, our team will work to manage all of the symptoms of this condition, including the standard treatments of sinusitis. There are situations where both sinusitis and headaches can co-exist, and in these scenarios you may need to be treated by both a sinus surgeon and a headache specialist.

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