Because of the many advertisements for sinus pills, we have come to assume that most headaches are associated with sinus problems. This is not the case. Sinus headaches usually begin after a person is up and about in the morning, and usually subside by evening. Headaches occurring at night, especially those that awaken the victim, are rarely, if ever, due to sinus infection. Changes in atmospheric pressure and temperature, however, may bring on sinus inflammation with a headache.
For example, sinus headaches often begin after people experience pressure changes on airplane flights. Some people report that their sinus headaches begin when the weather changes, such as, before a storm when the humidity is high. Some patients are usually more accurate than the local weatherman at predicting a severe thunderstorm.
Headaches or facial pressure associated with sinusitis are often accompanied by some degree of nasal congestion or blockage. If you can relieve sinus pressure by spraying your nose with an over-the-counter decongestants spray or by taking a decongestant tablet , that suggests that the pressure or headache is sinus in origin. If your headache is stress related, or if it is a migraine, then the decongestants (spray or tablets) will have little effect. Remember that the use of non-prescription decongestant sprays should be limited to three to five days only. Decongestant tablets should not be taken with any regularity by people with high blood pressure or men with prostate problems.
What causes a sinus infection to develop?
A number of factors predispose one to sinusitis. The most common situation occurs when a viral upper respiratory infection (in other words, a cold) causes swelling and congestion of the lining of the nose. This may result in obstruction of the relatively small sinus openings, decreasing normal sinus ventilation and drainage. That triggers the development of a sinus infection. Sinusitis may begin as a viral infection, but within a few days can progress to a bacterial infection, with pus in the sinus. Pus is a thick material that causes further sinus blockage. This blockage leads to infection, with increased mucus production. This excess of mucus and pus is moved by the cilia that line the sinuses and nose into the back part of the nose, causing the postnasal drip which accompanies almost all cases of sinusitis.
In many sinus sufferers, especially those with repeated infection, there may be one or more preexisting conditions that contribute to the problem. These include a deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps, or allergies. All of these cause narrowing of the nasal passages, and often blockage of the sinus openings, which increase the chance of a viral cold progressing to a full-blown sinus infection. This is why some people undergo operations such as a deviated septum surgery or nasal polyp removal – to improve their chronic sinus infections. Also, a number of patients with sinus infections stopped once they began allergy shots, which addresses the allergic component of their sinus disease.
Consult a doctor to discuss sinus symptoms or before taking medications.