Sinus Headache Treatment in Denver, CO
Sinus headaches are painful and frustrating. Many of our patients have been to several doctors for their ongoing headaches, and were told there was nothing they could do. We disagree. Advanced ENT & Allergy Center specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of sinus headaches – we’ll help you find relief.
What Are Sinus Headaches & How Are They Different From Other Headaches?
Sinus headaches are different from regular headaches. They feel almost constant and can’t be treated effectively with standard treatments like antibiotics or stress relief. Sinus headaches are characterized by a deep pain or pressure which takes place over one or both of the sinus cavities around the eyes, cheeks and forehead. These headaches typically tend to be worse on one side but can affect both sides as well. Sinus related headaches develop when the sinus cavities around the face and head become inflamed and blocked off, not allowing for proper airflow or drainage. Sinus headache treatments vary from daily medication to surgery, and it’s important to choose your treatment based on the root cause of your sinus issues.
Sinus headaches can be difficult to diagnose since there are other headache types with similar symptoms. Migraines are characterized by a similar facial pain, pressure and nasal congestion, but they are also associated with unique symptoms like nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, and pain that worsens with activity. Tension headaches typically can be relieved with massage, heat or stress relief, but sinus headaches do not respond to these treatments as tension headaches do.
While sinus infections often show signs of swelling and pressure in the sinuses on a CT scan, a sinus headache is not with associated with this same swelling. Since we can’t see pressure from a sinus headache on a CT scan, patients with headaches who get a CT scan are often told there are no issues. It is important to instead look at how much room there is in the nose overall and how small the openings to the sinuses are, swelling or no. A “normal” CT scan showing small sinus openings is common for people experiencing pain over the sinuses due to sinus headaches.
If you are experiencing headaches that you believe may be connected to sinus issues, contact us for a consultation. Virtual appointments are also available!
Signs & Symptoms of Sinus Headaches
The sinus cavities that become inflamed during a sinus headache are located in your cheeks, between your eyes, in your forehead, and in the center of your head. Discomfort can be felt anywhere from the upper teeth to the back or sides of your head, depending on the location of the pressure.
Signs and symptoms of a sinus headache may include:
- Throbbing head
- Pain in the face, head, or cheeks
- Worsening pain if you bend forward or lie down
- Pressure around the eyes, cheeks, and forehead
- Achy feeling in your upper teeth
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Postnasal drip
- Persistent cough
Not everyone experiences sinus headaches with the same symptoms. Some may feel an intense pressure behind the eye, while others experience pain and throbbing foreheads.
What Causes Sinus Headaches?
Sinus headaches are a result of pressure caused by congestion and inflammation in the sinus cavities. Recurring swelling of the sinuses is also referred to as sinusitis. With healthy sinuses, air circulates freely and mucus drains normally through the nasal passages. When inflammation occurs, the sinuses become blocked and can’t drain efficiently, creating built up pressure and a breeding ground for bacteria.
It is important to note that sinus headaches are typically not caused by a sinus infection. You can certainly experience pain and pressure when you have a sinus infection, but constant sinus headaches that occur on a regular basis are caused by inflammation, not infection. This is why antibiotics don’t work for a sinus headache.
Sinus headaches are more common for people who have certain anatomical features such as being born with smaller sinus openings, meaning they become congested more easily, or having a nasal lining that is naturally more sensitive to environmental triggers. Allergies or pollutants can often be the underlying cause of the continual inflammation that leads to sinus headaches. Other causes for congestion may be enlarged turbinates or nasal polyps. It is important to get to the root cause of the sinus congestion in order to determine the best sinus headache treatment for you. An experienced ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) can help diagnose and treat your sinus pressure.
Sinus Headache Treatment Options
Treatments that are used for normal headache relief, such as pain medication or antibiotics, are usually ineffective against sinus headaches. An expert ENT doctor can diagnose your sinus headache and help you find the best treatment plan for your unique needs. The doctors at Advanced ENT & Allergy Center have been successful treating patients with sinus headaches for decades through both traditional visits and telemedicine. While each patient’s sinus congestion triggers are different, treatment for sinus headaches typically comes down to three paths:
Medical therapy (AKA medication) on a regular basis
Taking oral medication (occasionally topical) to manage your symptoms every day can be an easy solution. However, you will likely have to continue medication every day for the foreseeable future in order to keep your headaches from coming back.
Consider surgery to get results without taking medicines every day
If you create more room in your nose and bigger sinus openings it’s much harder for those openings to swell closed. This improves your sinus headaches without daily medicines.
The surgery for sinus headaches, often a balloon sinuplasty, has gotten much easier over the years. It can now be done in the office using a local anesthetic and a small amount of oral sedation very comfortably, taking about 45 minutes to complete. Recovery involves a really stuffy nose for about a week and almost no postoperative pain. Most patients can return to work in two to three days.
Treat allergies more aggressively to decrease the swelling in your nose
Allergies cause swelling inside the nose to the point that it closes the sinus openings. Advanced ENT & Allergy Center has been treating allergy patients using sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops) almost exclusively for over 15 years. Dr. Menachof pioneered this technique and has seen extreme success with this treatment.
After determining your specific sensitivities, a customized liquid medicine is designed to treat your unique allergies effectively. Simply placing three drops under your tongue each day will help decrease your sensitivity to allergies. These drops will reduce the swelling caused by allergies and allow the sinuses to open up, improving your headaches.
For people who have a combination of anatomic issues (small sinus openings and environmental triggers or allergies), sometimes a combination of treatments can be the most effective.
While there are a number of home remedy “treatment” options out there to help with sinus headaches, it’s important to realize that these are usually only able to manage symptoms or dull the pain temporarily. They don’t typically offer a long-term solution to your sinus pressure and problems. Until you identify and address the true origin of your inflammation, you will continue to see the signs and symptoms of sinus headaches.
Book an appointment in just a few clicks via our online scheduler so we can determine the best treatment for your sinus issues.
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Contact the Sinus Experts
If you’re experiencing symptoms of a sinus headache, Advanced ENT & Allergy Center can help. Our doctors are the Colorado experts in sinus and allergy issues. We’ll examine and diagnose you, and then work with you to choose a treatment that fits your needs. We’ve been helping people find relief from sinus headaches for decades.