When experiencing an intense headache, most people don’t really care if it is a sinus headache or a migraine; they just want it to go away. However, if you get headaches often, it is important to learn what type they are in order to receive the appropriate treatment. While sinus headaches can look and feel like a migraine, they are two completely different types of headaches with different causes and different means of treatment.
How can I tell the difference between a sinus headache and a migraine?
In the past it was thought that a sinus headache was less intense than a migraine; however, any sufferer will tell you that’s not true. For people who have a history of migraines, issues with the sinuses can trigger a migraine, making the sufferer feel worse because they have symptoms of a migraine and the symptoms of sinus issues. One survey stated that three-fourths of all headaches that are diagnosed as a migraine are actual sinus headaches. Sinus headaches, however, have specific symptoms that are not present in a migraine.
Sinus headaches are usually marked by pain in the face, upper teeth, and/or around the eyes in addition to pain in the forehead. There may be nasal stuffiness or discharge present and the sufferer may have a fever. Sinus headaches hurt worse when the sufferer is leaning forward or lying down. If you have a fever or show other signs of infection, it is best to see your doctor to begin a course of antibiotics.
What are some things I can do to treat a sinus headache at home?
Once you have established you have a sinus headache and are not showing signs of fever or infection, there are some things you can do at home until you can get in to see your doctor. Many times, sinus headaches will ease with the application of heat or steam, such as using a heating pad on your face or taking a hot shower. Nasal irrigation is also recommended in order to help clear the sinuses which will alleviate the pressure causing the headache. Some people find relief using over-the-counter pain relievers and rest. Decongestants can help relieve the pressure particularly if your headache is triggered by allergies. Most sufferers tend to feel some relief if they can prop their head and shoulders up with firm pillows or in a recliner. In this way, they can sleep or just rest and encourage the sinuses to drain.