The term sinusitis is used to describe inflammation of the sinus (sinus + itis = inflammation). As a leading sinus headache doctor in Kingston, Pennsylvania, Dr. Mariotti knows how to identify a sinus headache because pain in the sinus area does not automatically mean that you have a sinus disorder.
On the other hand, sinus and nasal passages can become inflamed leading to a headache. Headache is one of the key symptoms of patients diagnosed with acute or chronic sinusitis. In addition to a headache, sinusitis patients often complain of:
- Pain and pressure around the eyes, across the cheeks and the forehead
- Achy feeling in the upper teeth
- Fever and chills
- Facial swelling
- Nasal stuffiness
- Yellow or green discharge
However, it is important to note that there are some cases of headaches related to chronic sinusitis without other upper respiratory symptoms. This suggests that an examination for sinusitis be considered when treatment for a migraine or other headache disorder is unsuccessful.
WHAT IS A SINUS HEADACHE?
If the lining of the ducts or tubes that connect the sinuses to the back of the nose becomes inflamed, the sinuses may not be able to drain normally, and pressure may build up within the blocked sinus. There may also be associated swelling and inflammation of the lining of the sinuses, resulting in increased mucus and fluid secretion. This increase in fluid and pressure causes the pain of a sinus headache.
While a sinus inflammation (sinusitis) may be caused by a viral infection, much like a cold that causes swelling in the nose, the inflammation and decreased ability of the sinuses to drain may also be caused by an allergic reaction like hay fever
Inflammation, like anywhere else in the body, causes swelling and increased fluid production. In the sinuses, this decreases the ability of the sinuses to drain.
The increased inflammatory fluid production (just like the weeping observed with a skin injury) combines with the decrease in drainage to cause the pain and pressure of a sinus headache.
Most commonly, infectious sinusitis (sinus infection) is due to a viral infection, but bacterial and fungal infections of the sinuses can also occur. Since the maxillary sinuses are located in the cheekbone, infections of the upper teeth can spread into these sinuses. In very rare cases, benign or malignant tumors can invade and block drainage in the sinuses and lead to a sinus headache
This is why, as a top sinus headache doctor, Dr. Mariotti strongly recommends that individuals should seek medical care if you are not sure what is causing your symptoms or if you have signs of a severe infection including high fever, symptoms that do not resolve with time, or if over-the-counter pain relievers are not effective in controlling the pain.
You should also seek care if you noticed swelling in the face that accompanies the pain, swelling around your eye or changes in vision.