How to Treat Sinus Headaches?

By Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Table of Contents


What do you do when you have a sinus headache? The first thing that comes to your mind may be decongestant pills. But what are the other options? In this post, I’ll provide you with a few tips for managing a sinus headache.

People who get sinus headaches frequently understand how painful they can be. Nothing appears to work, despite your best efforts to use all possible treatments and cures. Good news, then! Hope exists! We’ll talk about a few straightforward methods in this post to assist you in permanently stopping experiencing sinus headaches.

A Sinus Headache: What Is It?

A sinus headache is a pain on either side of your face that is caused by a sinus infection. They can be painful, but they are not usually serious.

A sinus infection known as sinusitis can result in symptoms like a runny nose, a headache, and exhaustion. There are six sinuses around your nose that help to aerate the skull. The main function of these sinuses is to reduce the weight of the skull.

However, a sinus infection, either bacterial or viral, may prevent it from working properly. People with weakened immune systems can potentially get fungal sinus infections as well. These conditions may cause nasal secretions to rise and regular secretions to become obstructed.

When these cavities are filled with liquid, they become unpleasant and painful. This pain is referred to as sinus headache.

Sinusitis can be acute or chronic. The acute sinusitis will resolve in less than 3 weeks. Viral and bacterial sinusitis are caused by acute sinusitis, while chronic sinusitis refers to sinusitis lasting more than 3 months. Chronic sinusitis can be due to allergies, structural errors, etc.

Symptoms of Sinus Headache

 Sinus headache is associated with the following symptoms:

  • Rhinorrhoea
  • Nasal congestion
  • Fever
  • Post nasal drip
  • Cough
  • Loss of smell
  • Toothache

Sinus Headache vs. Migraine

 Most people tend to refer to sinus headaches as migraines. But these are two different things.

  • Sinus headache refers to a pain in the sinuses that can be triggered by a cold or other infection.
  • Migraine headaches are a more severe form of pain that can be triggered by a number of factors, including weather changes, food allergies, and hormonal changes.
  • Migraine is a more severe form of headache, while sinus headaches are usually milder and more common.
  • Sinus headache is treatable and improves with treatments, while migraine needs chronic treatment.
  • Migraine has associated symptoms like nausea and light sensitivity, which are not seen in sinus headaches.
  • Pressure over the sinus will cause pain in a sinus headache, while in a migraine it is not.

Treating Sinus Headaches

Sinusitis can be treated in various ways. The underlying causes of sinusitis are viral, bacterial, or allergic. Most commonly, all three types are covered in treating sinusitis as there is no definite investigation to identify each cause separately.

Here are some tips on how to treat a sinus headache and get back to work.


A sinus headache can be just as painful as a regular headache. Drinking hot water is the best remedy to reduce sinus headaches. Hydration is essential as the patient has rhinorrhea. Drinking hot water will clear the draining passages and will clear the throat, which is disturbed with post nasal drip.

Steam Inhalation

A sinus headache can feel like a punch in the face or like someone is drilling into your skull. Steam inhalation will dissolve the blocked sinus draining pathways by thinning the mucus accumulated in those.

Saline flush

During sinusitis, your nasal passages can be congested. A sinus headache can be aggravated by a blocked nose. Saline nasal flushes are commonly used in children to remove crusting and block pathways caused by sinusitis. The saline nasal flushes can be used in adults too. The nasal flushes can be put into the noses as drops, sprays or by using a neti pot.

Over-The-Counter (OTC) medications

Sinus headaches can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Basically, you can buy pain-relieving medications from most pharmacies. Pain killers like acetaminophen (Tynleol), Panadine, and NSAIDs (Ibuprofen, naproxen) have proven beneficial in relieving sinus headache pain.


Sinus headaches occur as a result of sinus congestion. The physician will prescribe decongestants to ease mucus blockage in the sinuses. There is oxymetazoline, a phenyleprine like decongestant to reduce sinus blockages and to reduce mucosal swelling. Patients can use these twice a day to get relief from sinus headaches.


The best antibiotic for sinusitis is considered to be clarythromycin, though it has a different taste. The penetration ability into the sinus is better in clarythromycin than in azithromycin. The doctors will prescribe antibiotics for a total of seven days.


Since there is inflammation, the steroids will reduce swelling and mucus secretion in the sinuses. Thus, steroids are essential in treating sinus headaches. The best way to deliver steroids is via nasal spray. (Fluticasone nasla spray , metaspray)

Some physicians may prescribe a short course of oral steroids too.

Visit the doctor!

A sinus headache can be a real pain, and if it’s not treated properly, it can lead to other complications. If you’re experiencing a sinus headache and the pain is persisting for more than a week , it is important to see a doctor to get curable medicine.

If the physician is suspecting something else, he will ask to do a CT of the sinuses to Submit better view of the sinuses.

Fungal infections, tumors, mucosal debris, and allergies are the common causes of chronic sinusitis.

When eye symptoms occur with sinus pain, the physician will evaluate the patient properly for the features of orbital cellulitis, which is a life-threatening emergency.


TeleHealthDoc articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Dr. Pallavi Sharma is one of Melbourne’s best, well respected cosmetic doctors and aims to provide longstanding anti-aging benefits for her clients. With over 11 years experience in Performing cosmetic procedures, Dr. Sharma has lectured medical professionals regarding cosmetic treatments and is heavily involved in providing up to date cosmetic treatments to her clients and friends.
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