Many people suffer from headaches, and they are usually not a sign of a serious or life-threatening illness. But they can be very painful, and the best way to treat a headache often depends on what is causing it.
Sinus problems can lead to headaches, which can be severe. They are mainly due to pressure building up in your sinuses when the mucous membranes are inflamed and do not properly secrete mucus. This type of inflammation can occur due to a sinus infection, allergies, an infection in an upper tooth, or in rare cases a tumor (benign or malignant).
During a sinus headache, you can feel pressure and tenderness behind your forehead, cheeks or around the eyes. The pain can be mild-to-severe as well as unilateral (on one side) or bilateral (on both sides).
In addition, such headaches worsen when bending forward and are more intense first thing in the morning. They are also accompanied by symptoms like a stuffy nose, fatigue, an achy feeling in your upper teeth, a mild-to-moderate fever and a sense of not feeling well.
Sinus headaches can affect anyone, but some people are more vulnerable to them. Common risk factors include a previous history of migraines or headaches (either yourself or in your family) and hormonal changes associated with headaches.
Treating and preventing a sinus headache is easy. The treatment goal for a sinus headache is mainly two-fold. First, steps need to be taken to reduce the inflammation within the sinuses to help them drain. Secondly, steps are taken to ease discomfort and pain while treating the underlying problem.
However, as headaches from sinusitis can be easily mistaken for migraines or tension headaches, it is recommended to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Here are the top 10 ways to get rid of a sinus headache.
1. Inhale Steam
Steam is an effective way to treat a sinus headache at home.
Steam inhalation will calm your mucous membranes and help clear the congestion in your nose. This in turn will reduce the sinus pressure, and ultimately alleviate your headache.
- Boil some water in a pan.
- Optionally, add a few drops of essential oil.
- Cover your head with a towel and lean forward over the bowl or pan containing the hot water.
- Inhale the steam as many times as possible.
- Repeat this treatment every 2 hours as needed for relief.
Also, taking a steam bath works similarly.
2. Use a Humidifier
You need to breathe in moist air to fight a sinus headache.
Dry air can irritate the inflamed nasal passages even more, whereas moist air will thin the mucus and reduce blockage. This in turn will ease the pain.
For moist air, using a humidifier is a good option.
- Get a humidifier from the market and put it in your bedroom while you sleep, as this is one time when people experience increased sinus pressure.
- Alternatively, placing a bowl of hot water on your bedroom floor can increase the moisture in the air. Be sure to place it in a safe place where you won’t accidentally tip it over or step into it.
3. Use Compresses
Hot and cold compresses are one of the best solutions to get rid of a sinus headache.
A warm, moist compress applied on the sinus regions will ease the pressure and loosen the thick mucus. On the other hand, a cold compress will provide pain relief by constricting the blood vessels in the sinus regions.
- Fill one bowl with hot water and another bowl with cold water.
- Put a washcloth in the hot water and wring out the excess moisture.
- Place the warm compress on the area where you feel pain as well as on your nose for about 3 minutes.
- Remove the warm compress and immediately apply the cold compress on the same area for 30 to 45 seconds.
- Repeat this process alternating compresses 4 or 5 times a day to effectively relieve a sinus headache.
4. Stay Hydrated
For any kind of headache, staying hydrated is a must to reduce the pain.
When suffering from a sinus headache, be sure to drink plenty of fluids. This can help thin out the mucus in your sinuses, making it easier to drain. Once the body gets rid of the mucus, your headache will vanish away quickly.
Drinking enough fluid will also help with overall hydration. To know whether your body is hydrated, check the color of your urine. Colorless urine is an indication of proper hydration.
Along with water, drinking hot fluids will help. Enjoy a hot cup of herbal tea or drink broth to thin out the mucus.
Even warm soups and lemonades can help clear up the mucus.
5. Massage the Sinus Regions
It is believed that massaging the sinus regions can reduce the inflammation (or dampness) by strengthening points along your spleen and stomach that influence your .
Massage will also help stimulate the blocked sinuses so they can drain properly, which in turn will ease the headache.
- Add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to 2 tablespoons of warm olive oil.
- Apply the oil on your forehead and nose.
- Using your index finger and thumb, apply gentle pressure on the sinus regions (forehead, bridge of the nose and cheekbone).
- Continue massaging for 10 minutes.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times a day.
6. Practice Humming
You can try humming for one hour to improve sinus pain, including a headache. It may sound strange, but humming can keep your sinuses clear and may prevent a sinus infection.
A 2002 study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reports that humming increases nasal nitric oxide, which improves ventilation in the sinuses. Proper ventilation is vital to keeping them healthy and free from inflammation.
Another study published in Medical Hypotheses in 2006 reports that strong humming for one hour daily can lead to stimulation of endogenous nasal nitric oxide production.
Next time when you have a severe headache, keep humming a happy tune to get rid of the pain.