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You’re bloated, you’re nauseous, and what’s worse, you feel as though a killer sinus headache is coming on. You’ve got sinusitis, and you’re pregnant. Now is the worst time to get sick, you think. While sinusitis is no fun, it’s not an uncommon situation for many pregnant women. Read on to learn what the link is between pregnancy and sinusitis.
Everyone says that pregnant women have a glow about them. In many cases, they also feel congested.
Why is that the case? As with many conditions related to pregnancy, your congestion (and subsequent sinus headaches) have to do with the hormonal changes taking place in your body.
When you’re pregnant, your body produces more estrogen. As a result, the mucous lining your nose swells up. Your nose could even produce more mucous! Moreover, the amount of blood in your body increases. The blood vessels in the lining of your nose could swell and cause congestion in the surrounding tissue.
Pregnancy-related congestion can start as early as the second month. For many women, it becomes worse later in the pregnancy.
The good news is after you give birth, the congestion should improve. After two weeks, the congestion should be gone entirely.
While it’s good to know that the congestion is a fairly temporary state of affairs (even though it feels like it will last forever), it can have some unpleasant effects. One of those effects is sinus headaches.
Your sinuses are small spaces in the skull filled with air. They’re behind your eyes, nose, and cheeks. Sinuses open into the nose. They’re supposed to allow mucus to drain and air to circulate.
When you’re congested, your sinuses don’t work properly. Mucous blocks them up. That build-up creates pressure. For some people, that build-up is very painful and causes headaches.
When you have a sinus headache, you’ll feel pain and pressure in your cheeks, your brow, and your forehead. The pain tends to get worse when you bend over or lie down flat on your back.
Other symptoms of a sinus headache include a stuffy nose, fatigue, and tooth or jaw aches.
Many people confuse sinus headaches with migraines or tension headaches (which are also very common during pregnancy). So, what differentiates sinus headaches from migraines or tension headaches?
The source of confusion is easy to understand. Migraines, tension headaches, and sinus headaches have similar symptoms. People who have migraines often report feeling congested, experiencing pressure in their sinuses, and having nasal discharge.
That’s where the similarities end, though. Migraines are usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting,or aggravated by exposure to loud noises or bright lights.
There are some steps you can take to relieve the pain of sinus headaches.
Dry air has a tendency to aggravate sinuses. Using a humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can make your headache feel better. Don’t have a humidifier? Steam from a hot shower will do the trick.
Hot and cold compresses can also reduce sinus pressure. The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery recommends putting a hot compress across your sinuses for three minutes, and then a cold compress for thirty seconds. You should repeat this cycle three times per treatment, placing compresses on your sinuses two to six times per day.
If neither of these treatments is effective after a week, go see an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT). He or she will examine you to determine whether your sinus headaches are the result of a cold or a bacterial infection.
Sinus pain can range from unpleasant to unbearable. When home remedies don’t work, you need to turn to an experienced ENT who has a track record of successfully treating patients with sinus pain.
Dr. Nguyen is a national expert in the treatment of nasal allergies. Let us use the newest technology and our vast experience to find a solution for your health needs. Houston Sinus and Allergy has over a decade of experience in treating nasal allergies. Our practice has won numerous awards, including being voted the Living Best of Reader’s Choice Award in 2015.