Sinus headaches are headaches that may feel like an infection in the sinuses (sinusitis). You may feel pressure around your eyes, cheeks and forehead. Perhaps your head throbs.
However, many people who assume they have headaches from sinusitis, including many who have received such a diagnosis, actually have migraines or tension headaches.
Sinus headaches are usually associated with migraines or other forms of headaches.
Sinus headaches are associated with pain and pressure in the face and sinuses and can cause nasal symptoms. Most of these headaches are not caused by sinus infections and should not be treated with antibiotics.
Signs and symptoms of sinus headaches — regardless of cause — may include:
- Pain, pressure and fullness in your cheeks, brow or forehead
- Worsening pain if you bend forward or lie down
- Stuffy nose
- Achy feeling in your upper teeth
Sinusitis or migraine?
Migraines and headaches from sinusitis are easy to confuse because the signs and symptoms of the two types of headaches often overlap.
Both sinusitis and migraine headache pain often gets worse when you bend forward. Migraine can also be accompanied by various nasal signs and symptoms — including congestion, facial pressure and a clear, watery nasal discharge. In fact, studies have shown that approximately 90 percent of people who see a doctor for sinus headaches are found to have migraines instead.
Sinusitis, however, usually isn’t associated with nausea or vomiting or aggravated by noise or bright light — all common features of migraines.
Sinusitis usually occurs after a viral upper respiratory infection or cold and includes thick, discolored nasal mucus, decreased sense of smell, and pain in one cheek or upper teeth.
When to see a doctor
Consult your doctor if:
- Your headache symptoms occur more than 15 days a month or require frequent over-the-counter pain medicine
- You have a severe headache, and over-the-counter pain medicine doesn’t help
- You miss school or work because of frequent headaches or the headaches interfere with your daily life