Sinus Infections

What Causes Sinus Pressure?

September 8, 2021

5 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

Experiencing consistent sinus pressure can be frustrating, leaving you to wonder, “what causes sinus pressure and how can I get rid of it?” 

Sinus pressure or pain is a result of inflamed sinuses or an increase in fluid and mucus secretion caused by factors such as sinusitis, environmental irritants, or the common cold. You could experience sinus pain or sinus pressure in your forehead, between your eyes, in your upper cheeks, or behind your eyes.

Kaplan Sinus Relief is a full-service Houston sinus center that helps patients achieve lasting sinus relief. We are here to assure you that there are ways to ease the discomfort you feel in your sinuses. Here is everything you need to know about what causes sinus pressure and how to treat it.

5 possible causes of sinus pressure

When your sinuses become swollen either due to inflammation or increased mucus, it can create pressure in your sinus cavities. This increased pressure on the nerve endings around your sinuses can leave you in massive discomfort and throbbing pain.

Sinus pressure can be caused by:

1. Sinusitis

Sinusitis is a sinus infection caused by allergies or a build-up of bacteria and can be short-term (acute sinus infection) or long-term (chronic sinus infection). Chronic sinusitis can be indicative of something larger going on like severe allergies or a deviated septum.

Some common sinus infection symptoms include:

  • Sinus headache
  • Facial pressure
  • Yellow or green mucus
  • Congestion
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Fever and chills

2. Environmental irritants

In response to an allergy attack or other airborne pollutants such as smoke, your sinuses could become inflamed and begin overproducing mucus creating that feeling of a swollen, stuffy nose. An antihistamine can help with short-term relief, but if sinus pressure caused by environmental irritants becomes an issue, you may need to see an allergist.

3. The common cold

Respiratory infections caused by bacteria or viruses usually result in mucus buildup. This mucus buildup can be the perfect place for bacteria to multiply, turning your common cold into a full-blown sinus infection. If your mucus becomes a greenish color, you likely are facing a sinus infection vs. cold.

4. Nasal polyps

Nasal polyps are benign, non-cancerous growths on the inside of your sinuses. Although they don’t cause pain in the beginning stages, they could lead to sinus pressure and headaches as they grow bigger.

5. Deviated septum

If your septum –– the thin wall between your nasal passages –– leans to one side more than the other, it can prevent proper drainage. As we discussed, this stagnancy can cause mucus buildup that leads to chronic sinus infections and sinus pressure.

Causes of sinus pressure without a sinus headache

Why do I have sinus pressure but no congestion? While it is possible to have a sinus pressure headache without congestion, it usually comes hand in hand with other symptoms of allergies, colds, or infections. If you are only experiencing what you consider to be a sinus headache, you may actually have migraines and should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. 

The treatments for the two conditions, sinus pressure and migraines, are different and you may be self-diagnosing, and therefore treating, incorrectly.

Sinus headache vs. migraines

Sinus headaches and migraines are often misdiagnosed as one another as their symptoms can be similar. Both can cause pain or tenderness behind your eyes and around your head and result in watery eyes or a runny nose. One way that you can tell the difference between a sinus headache and a migraine is by mucus color. For a migraine, the mucus tends to be clear while the mucus from a sinus headache will have a yellowish or greenish tint to it.

Another major difference is the other symptoms accompanying the pain. For migraines, you could be experiencing nausea and vomiting coupled with light or noise sensitivity. Migraines can also come on at any time in the day whereas sinus headaches tend to be isolated more towards the morning upon waking. Though this isn’t always the case.

You might be experiencing constant sinus headaches and want to know “what does it mean when you have constant sinus pressure?” If you’re experiencing the discomfort of constant sinus pressure, you’re likely facing some chronic allergies or chronic sinusitis. Schedule an appointment with your ENT to be sure. Chronic sinusitis left untreated can lead to some serious health issues down the road.

How do I stop sinus pressure?

You might be wondering how to relieve sinus pressure if you’ve been experiencing the discomfort and pain that comes alongside it. Some home remedies for congestion you could try include:

  1. Drinking lots of water
  2. Using a saline rinse or neti pot
  3. Running a humidifier
  4. Steaming
  5. Taking over-the-counter pain relievers

Hopefully, these tips help you find relief, but it’s important to remember that they only treat the symptoms. If you are experiencing sinus pressure or throbbing pain for more than 12 weeks, you may be suffering from chronic sinusitis. Don’t wait to schedule an appointment with your ENT.

Find sinus pressure relief with balloon sinuplasty in Houston

Sinus pain is uncomfortable and can disrupt your life regardless of what causes sinus pressure. At Kaplan Sinus Relief, we help people breathe better with a variety of sinusitis treatment options, including balloon sinuplasty.

Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive and effective way to treat your underlying sinus issues and can deliver lasting relief in as little as 20 minutes. We can help you treat your chronic sinus infections and get you feeling and breathing better again in no time.

Call 713-588-9987 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kaplan today!

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