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Atypical Sinus Headaches: What Are They & How to Treat Them

Posted by Migraine Relief Center on Jun 24, 2014 7:00:00 AM

A Texas biomedical research firm recently won an Emerging Medical Technology competition with their pitch about the future development of a test kit to instantly determine or rule out bacterial sinusitis. At this time, such determination cannot be made at the doctor's office; it requires collection of a specimen to be sent to the lab. An instant detection of bacterial sinusitis will allow doctors to correctly prescribe antibiotics to the more than 30 million patients who suffer from inflammation of their paranasal sinuses.

Atypical_Sinus_Headaches_What_Are_They__How_to_Treat_ThemSinusitis can be caused by bacterial or viral infections. In some cases, allergies are to blame. Sinus headaches often develop as a result of these conditions, and they go away when the swelling subsides and the nasal passages are clear. The problem with sinus headaches is that they are often felt by patients who do not have sinusitis at all.

When Sinus Headaches Are Actually Migraines

When a sinus headache is felt in the presence of sinusitis, doctors will primarily treat the inflammation and may also prescribe something for the facial pain that is caused by the buildup in pressure.

The most common symptoms associated with sinus headaches involve pain that is felt above the nose and behind the eyes. It is particularly cumbersome and may radiate across the forehead. Patients often complain that moving and bending down makes the pain feel a lot worse.

Some patients assume that sinus headaches foreshadow allergies or upper respiratory infections; however, this is not always the case. In the absence of infections or allergies, these are atypical sinus headaches that may be related to migraines.

Sinusitis as Migraine Triggers

Patients who suffer from migraines without auras are more likely to experience atypical sinus headaches. The discomfort felt by mild facial pain and pressure is not always a sign of an incoming infection or allergy attack. It may signal a migraine headache of greater intensity.

Bacterial and viral sinusitis cases may trigger migraines when the nasal passages are swollen to the point of impairing normal breathing. This situation can cause enough discomfort and stress to trigger a migraine attack. Another sinus health issue that can trigger migraines is a permanent blockage due to tumors, trauma or physiological defects. In these cases, corrective surgery will also alleviate migraines.

Treating Atypical Sinus Headaches

Keeping sinuses clean and unobstructed with nasal irrigation for the purpose of clearing mucus goes a long way in preventing atypical sinus headaches that are not associated with allergies or infections. Over-the-counter analgesics and pain relievers can be used at the onset of the headache in order to prevent it from becoming more intense to the point of triggering a migraine episode.

Chronic atypical sinus headaches determined to be caused by swelling of the tissue surrounding facial nerve clusters may be candidates for comprehensive and preventive relief with Botox injections or a more permanent surgical decompression procedure.

*Image courtesy of

patient guide to surgery

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Topics: Migraine

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