Munson Health
 
Sinus Headache

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by Wood D
 

Definition

Sinus headache refers to head and facial pain associated with inflammation of the sinuses (called sinusitis ). The sinuses are hollow cavities in the skull that have openings into the nose. Colds and allergies cause 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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Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors for sinus headache include:
 

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Your nasal secretions may be tested for allergies and infection.
If you suffer from chronic sinusitis, tests may include:
  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the head
  • Nasal endoscopy—uses a thin, lighted tube to look inside your nose and possibly take samples of drainage to be tested
 

Prevention

The following strategies may reduce the risk of getting a sinus headache:
  • Avoid exposure to anything that triggers allergy or sinus symptoms.
  • Seek medical treatment for allergies.
  • Wash your hands frequently to avoid colds.
  • Seek treatment for a persistent cold before sinusitis sets in.
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks. Alcohol can cause swelling of nasal and sinus tissues.
  • Check with your doctor about using a decongestant before air travel.
 

RESOURCES

American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
http://www.entnet.org

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
http://www.aafa.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Allergy Asthma Information Association
http://aaia.ca

Calgary Allergy Network
http://www.calgaryallergy.ca

 

References


Cady RK, Dodick DW, et al. Sinus headache: a neurology, otolaryngology, allergy, and primary care consensus on diagnosis and treatment. Mayo Clinic Proc . 2005;80:908-816.


Dambro M, Griffith J. Griffith's 5-Minute Clinical Consult . Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins; 2006.


Goetz CG, Pappert EJ. Textbook of Clinical Neurology . Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Co; 1999.


Goroll AH, Mulley AG. Primary Care Medicine . 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins; 2000.


National Headache Foundation website. Available at: http://www.headaches.org . Accessed July 9, 2009.


Sinus headache. American Academy of Otolaryngology website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/sinusHeadache.cfm . Accessed July 9, 2009.


Sinus headaches. American Rhinologic Society website. Available at: http://www.american-rhinologic.org . Accessed July 9, 2009.


Sinus problems. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America website. Available at: http://www.aafa.org . Updated 2005. Accessed July 9, 2009.