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One of the most frequently misdiagnosed conditions is the sinus headache, which tends to be blamed for any pain that seems to originate in the area behind your eyes and nose. This area of the body tends to be one of the more complicated ones to diagnose because of the specialized function of the nasal passageways and sinus cavities. Not to mention their proximity to eye sockets and other exposed membranes. Since headaches take many different forms and are caused by a wide variety of conditions, there’s a chance that you are dealing with your sinus infection in the wrong way.
Sinus headaches often involve the sensation of pressure building up behind the nose and ears, giving you the impression that your headache is caused by an inflation of inflammation. This type of pain will likely worsen or feel slightly better depending on the position of your head. If you lean your head forward and you have a sinus headache, you may feel as if the pressure intensifies. The same goes when laying to rest on your bed or couch.
Depending on the severity of your headache, you may even feel the pain spread down to the upper portion of your teeth. Additional symptoms include fatigue and a nose that’s constantly filled with runny mucus, which signifies your immune system is fighting a cold, flu or bacterial issue.
Getting a proper diagnosis for your headache involves discovering whether or not your headache is caused specifically by your sinus infection. Obtaining a diagnosis of a sinus infection involves determining which specific issue, whether bacterial or viral, has triggered the condition.
Considering the burden of proof, you may not be surprised to learn that the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology consider “a sinus headache is hard to identify since headache specialists consider true sinus headache to be fairly rare.” Since sinus headaches are considered rare, if you receive a diagnosis of a sinus headache and the treatment you receive isn’t having an effect, you should consider other diagnoses.
Typically, migraines tend to be most frequently misdiagnosed as a sinus headache. Migraines often create pain in the same area of the face that sinus headaches cause. Also, the pain that migraines create can be powerful enough to make it impossible to tell the difference between sinus pain and severe discomfort throughout the rest of the cranium.
Sinus headaches should be treated by targeting the infection itself, which reduces the inflammation that causes pain. Therefore, if nasal sprays, neti pots, antibiotics or other treatments don’t reduce the pain, you should seek an alternative treatment that doesn’t focus on sinus headaches.
It’s important to make sure your headache really does revolve around a sinus infection, and not another cause.
Houston Sinus & Allergy specializes in treating nasal and sinus conditions and providing allergy care. Our practice is committed to helping you find long-term relief from your symptoms. Dr. Nguyen is a Board Certified ENT – Head and Neck Surgeon with extensive training and experience in diseases of the ears, nose & throat.
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