Sinusitis or sinus infection is a very common condition, where, the sinuses, or the air filled cavities that are located around the nose and above the eyes are inflamed. When the sinuses are not blocked by foreign particles or excessive mucus, they remain healthy. Once the cavities are blocked it results in the growth of germs and bacteria. Sinus inflammations may be due to bacterial, fungal or viral infection, allergy or certain autoimmune disorders. Sinusitis can be classified as acute, sub acute or chronic depending upon the duration for which the symptoms persist. The symptoms of all three types are similar and a majority of adults suffer from sinus headache.
Such inflammation of the sinuses results in a mild, persistent and throbbing pain of the face and head which can be very debilitating and incapacitating. The pain may persist for hours together making normal everyday work close to impossible. Several natural remedies as well as medical treatment are available to remedy sinus headache.
Symptoms of Sinus Headaches
When the sinuses are not emptied of the accumulated fluid, the pressure of fluid accumulation results in the resultant headache and associated pain. When a person suffers from sinusitis related headaches, the pain is felt all over the face and is normally accompanied by increased fluid pressure of the sinuses which makes the face appear swollen and leaves the ears feeling full.
- Pain and tenderness all over the face and mild to prominent facial swelling and pressure;
- Fever and chills may be felt with prominent nasal drainage and congestion;
- Pressure as well as pain felt in the ears;
- Pain worsens with any movement of the head such as bending over or turning to the sides;
- Headache is initiated or worsens after a bout of severe cold.
It is important to diagnose the problem accurately as it is easy to confuse sinus headache with migraine or tension type headache at times. It is best to consult a doctor if the symptoms keep recurring at short intervals.
Home Remedies for Sinus Headaches
Natural remedies are very effective when it comes to treating sinus headaches. It is always better to try out the home remedies first before opting for professional help. Various home remedies are available to ease the headache caused due to sinusitis.
- Drinking plenty of water helps to prevent the mucus from getting thickened. This is especially effective in cases where the fluid pressure causes the sinuses to swell up and finally end up in excruciating headaches.
- Essential oils are very effective in alleviating the pain. They are equally effective in all forms, direct application as well as steam inhalation. Eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil help in reducing congestion and the fluid pressure.
- Consuming ‘hot’ food stuff, such as Jalapeno peppers help in fluid drainage which in turn helps in reducing the intensity of the pain. A bowl of hot, steaming soup also does the trick.
- Steam inhalation is one of the best ways to keep sinus headaches at bay. Inhalation of essential oil infused steam, especially the warm steam of eucalyptus oil or peppermint, helps clear out the congestion and mucus.
- Apple cider vinegar thins out mucus and helps in flushing out the congestion effectively
- Ripe grape juice is one of the most effective home remedies to treat sinus headaches.
- Vitamin C provides protection against cold related headaches. Citrus fruits are rich sources of Vitamin C and helps boost the immune system and keep the body resilient.
- Create a pack with ginger, holy basil, cinnamon and cloves and apply on the forehead to reduce the intensity of the pain.
- Exercise can provide immense relief from headache. Stretching exercises especially that of the neck and back help in relieving the congestion in the cavities.
- Chinese Herbal remedies are available in plenty to treat sinus headaches. Magnolia flower and chrysanthemum are commonly used to treat blocked nasal passages and cavities.
Nasal irrigation, Decongestants and Steam Inhalation
Sinus headaches can be relieved if the blocked sinuses are cleared out, as the pain is mainly caused due to the pressure exerted by fluid accumulation. Nasal irrigation helps in reducing the intensity of the pain. One of the simplest methods of nasal irrigation is to shoot up a stream of warm water mixed with rock salt to rinse out the mucus and fluid accumulated in the nasal cavity.
Decongestant sprays are available in the market and help relieve nasal congestion and the headache associated with it. Headache is caused when the blood vessels are dilated, decongestant sprays help to constrict blood vessels and thereby reducing the throbbing pain caused due to sinusitis. It is important to stick to the daily recommended dosage as decongestant sprays can become very addictive and excessive usage may result in adverse effects on the body. Over use results in something called rebound congestion where cavities constrict even further leading to difficulties in breathing.
Several prescription drugs are available to treat sinus headaches. Decongestants along with anti histamines reduce the intensity of the infection and reduce its unpleasant effects.
- Aspirin provides immediate relief to some of the unpleasant side effects of the headache.
- Oral decongestant medication to clear sinusitis is mainly composed of phenylpropanolamine or pseudoephedrine.
- Commercially available nasal decongestants are usually formulations of oxymetazoline, phenylephrine or xylometazoline.
Inhalation of steam infused with thyme, rock salt, lemon juice and baking soda is an excellent decongestant. Chamomile and lavender oils can be added in a steamer and inhalation of the oil infused steam helps in relieving the headache caused due to nasal blockage and congestion. Steam inhalation should be done on a regular basis to achieve the desired results. It is best to do it at least thrice a day. Steam inhalation before going to bed at night helps in a relaxed and peaceful sleep.
Way to decongest the nasal cavities includes:
- Steam inhalation, at least thrice a day, preferably with essential oil infusions.
- Use saline nasal spray, decongestant spray or rinse nasal cavities with warm water. Commercially available nasal sprays are easy to use and are very effective in decongesting the nasal cavity.
- Several over the counter drugs are available to reduce allergies that may trigger sinusitis which eventually results in headache. Decongestants, antibiotics and anti histamine tablets can provide temporary relief.
- Mist Humidifiers also provide immense relief and are one of the best sinus headache remedy. It is important to keep the nasal passage moist as dry air tends to aggravate sinusitis further. Moist air helps in clearing out the congestion.
Ways to Prevent Sinusitis and Sinus Headaches
A healthy lifestyle and a good balanced diet can work wonders. If you are able to keep sinus inflammations at bay, the associated headache may be avoided.
- Vitamin C intake is of utmost importance. Fruits and veggies should be consumed in order to boost the immune system that helps prevent infections and disease.
- Smoking, exposure to pollutants and dust aggravates sinus infections and headaches.
- Allergies should be treated appropriately at once.
- Application of ice packs in the areas around the eyes and forehead sometimes help in relieving sinus headaches. Cold helps in constricting blood vessels, thereby providing some relief against headaches.
Whatever medication is taken to treat the infections and headaches should be in moderation. Prescription drugs should be taken in strict accordance to the daily dosage prescribed by the doctor. When medicines and home remedies are unable to do the trick, surgery is the only option and this should be the last resort sinus headache remedy after thorough consultations with the doctor.