Sinus Headaches

How To Care for a Sinus Headache

April 7, 2016

3 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

Everybody has had a headache, but did you know there are different types of headaches? A sinus headache can be particularly painful since it’s caused by blockage and inflammation in the sinuses. You may have a sinus infection if the pain is limited to the cheeks, nose or forehead and/or is accompanied by sinus-related symptoms like congestion or discharge. Some sinus headaches may require antibiotics, but most of them can be treated at home using these methods.

  1. Clear Your Sinuses
    If you have a sinus headache, you probably have (infectious) mucus trapped in your sinuses. Your first course of action should be trying to clear this blockage. Over-the-counter medications like antihistamines and decongestants can help loosen and dry up mucus to clear your sinuses. NSAIDs, such as Ibuprofen, may be used complementary to reduce inflammation. For some, you may find doing a nasal rinse with a Neti pot to be helpful. It’s important to be extra careful when doing this with lingering sinus issues, as the solution may become trapped in your sinuses and cause further infection.
  2. Reduce Inflammation
    As is the case with many minor medical issues, ice packs are the bane of a sinus headache. Ice can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. If you’re a frequent sufferer of sinus headaches, you may consider buying an ice pack specially designed to cover the sinus area near your eyes and nose.
  3. Drink Water
    No matter what your body is trying to fight off, it’s always important to make sure you’re staying well hydrated. In addition to the myriad of positive effects water normally has on your body, it can also help to keep your nasal passages and throat moisturized and your mucus thin and easy to cough up.

Preventing Sinus Infections

Sinus infections or headaches are the result of a blockage in your sinuses. That being the case, the most important thing you can do to prevent sinus infections is to take care of your sinuses. If you’re a smoker, consider quitting or switching to a smokeless alternative—cigarette smokers are particularly prone to sinus issues. Allergy sufferers may also have frequent sinus issues—properly caring for allergies and maintaining good indoor air quality is essential to sinus health.

When to See a Doctor

Generally, sinus infections clear up on their own. If you have a sinus headache that’s lingering for weeks or one that’s unusually painful, you should contact your doctor. Some sinus infections require treatment with antibiotics.

While nothing will immediately resolve the pain of a sinus headache, taking the proper measures to care for it can relieve symptoms and reduce its duration. These tips will have you prepared to tackle your next sinus headache and move on with your week.


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