Sinus Pressure & Headache
Facial pain and headaches have many causes. Tension headaches, sinus headaches, migraine headaches, stress headaches, and more exist. Sinusitis does contribute to facial pressure and pain, and it can reduce your resistance to other kinds of headaches — that is, sinusitis can lower your threshold or make you more disposed to another type of headache.
Since your sinuses are located in your forehead, between your eyes, and in your cheeks, the location of your headaches can be a clue to their origin. If your headaches temporarily respond to sinus medication but later recur, you may be just treating the symptoms and ignoring the cause. If you feel that your pain is probably sinus-related, start with the Becker ENT Center.
At the Becker ENT Center, our physicians will examine you thoroughly and search out the MANY causes of facial pain that he can treat. Our doctors can do a fiberoptic evaluation of your nose and sinuses to pinpoint the problem and then discuss a wide range of treatment options with you. Recent technology has made these treatments more effective, safer, and more comfortable than ever before.
What can I do about facial pain/headache?
Facial pain and headaches have many causes. Tension headache, migraine headache, sinus headaches, stress headache, cluster headaches, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and more exist. Sinusitis does contribute to facial pressure and pain, and it can reduce your resistance to other kinds of headaches — that is, sinusitis can lower your threshold or make you more disposed to another type of headache.
The complete and thorough evaluation of headache includes evaluation by a neurologist and often an ENT specialist. If you feel that your pain is probably more sinus-related, start with the sinus specialist. He/she will examine you thoroughly and search out all of the many causes of facial pain that can be treated. If nothing definitive is found, do not lose hope. Your specialist(s) may still be able to offer you effective treatment.
In a rare patient, ENT and neurologic exam finds no cause for the headache. In these cases, a Pain Management Specialist is enlisted to your team, with frequent positive results that are usually a surprise to the patient!
Can sinus problems make my migraines worse?
Yes. Sinusitis can lower your threshold for migraine headaches. In other words, it can cause you to have migraines more easily. It is commonly thought that sinusitis can act in some cases as a “trigger” for migraine headaches. Treatment of sinusitis may in some cases decrease the incidence of migraine headaches.
Will you tell me more about facial pain and pressure with airplane travel?
Nasal congestion, secondary to sinusitis and other conditions, is a relative contraindication to air travel. This means that patients prone to nasal congestive disorders should only travel by airplane if they have first consulted with their physician. The physician may determine that it is not safe to fly or may feel that the patient can fly with proper pretreatment. The risks of flying with nasal congestion include severe facial pain, damage to the eardrums including bleeding and perforation, dizziness or vertigo, sinus bleeding, and other even more serious conditions.
It is recommended that patients with nasal congestion take a systemic decongestant and also spray the nasal passages with a topical long-acting nasal decongestant before the flight and before the descent. Such patients should check with their doctors to make sure that they can take these medications…for instance, patients with high blood pressure may want to avoid these medications. Patients with allergies may also take an antihistamine under a doctors supervision. In some cases, a doctor may wish to prescribe other medications, such as oral prednisone, a few days prior to travel. Medical care should be available at the patient’s destination in case sinusitis develops.
Air travelers with sinusitis are also advised to chew gum, swallow frequently, and learn how to perform the Valsalva maneuver to clear their ears. One way to perform this maneuver is to hold the nose and gently generate pressure against the closed mouth and glottis every 30 seconds.