Sinus Headache – Did You Really Beat It?

Pain around the sinus cavity.  Congestion.  Post-nasal drip.  Fatigue.  You’re feeling hot, and you have a headache.

You head to the pharmacy, and get a nasal spray.  You come home and have a good sleep.  Finally, the symptoms begin to subside.

Sinus headache symptoms - sinusitis

All’s well that ends well, right?  You’ve beat sinusitis again.  Problem is, it probably wasn’t sinusitis at all.

Some of you caught on, didn’t you?  This was most likely a migraine attack, not sinusitis at all.  Did you notice the clues?

Clue #1:  You’re feeling hot.  Feeling hot, but if you take your temperature, you most likely didn’t have a fever.  With sinusitis, you may not only feel hot but have a fever.

Clue #2:  The symptoms begin to subside.  That was pretty fast for sinusitis.  First, nasal sprays are not always recommended – it depends on your specific condition.  Even if they are recommended, if the sinusitis goes away within a few hours, you’ve probably had a migraine attack.  The symptoms are more likely to last days and get worse gradually and subside gradually.

Clue #3:  We didn’t mention some key symptoms of sinus headache.  These may include yellowish or greenish mucus.  Sore throat.  And cough.

The tricky thing is that these are all possible symptoms of sinusitis, but sometimes the sinus headache comes without the upper respiratory symptoms at all.  That’s right – you may get migraine with congestion and facial pressure, and sinus headache without!

So here are some more clues to help you discover a sinus headache.  First, the gradual onset.  Second, sinus headaches rarely come with nausea, and you’re usually not bothered as much by noise and light.  Of course, it is possible to get a migraine attack within a sinus headache!

If we rely on the statistics, chances are you are having a migraine attack, or in rare cases a migraine along with sinusitis.  Don’t run to the store for a nasal spray.  Get a proper diagnosis, especially if it’s happening on a regular basis.  Leaving either migraine or sinusitis untreated can lead to worse problems later on, and the treatment is different for each.

For more, read Are you getting sinus headache symptoms?

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  • Elaine Mar 2, 2012

    Many years I was diagnosed with repeated sinus infections and prescribed antibiotics. A savvy Neuro-otologist in my ENT’s office was skeptical one time when I came in really suffering and had me get a CAT scan and it showed my sinuses perfectly clear. The diagnosis – Migraine!

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