A sinus headache can be excruciating. At worst, your forehead may feel as if it’s being separated from the rest of the head, the teeth get numb, and it might be hard to keep the eyes open. Want to know how to get rid of a sinus headache?
Over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers help, though the pain is sometimes so persistent that you need to consider other treatments as well. Aside from painkillers, there are more than a few medications and traditional remedies that can provide the necessary relief. But first things first, it pays to get acquainted with the sinus headache triggers and symptoms.
What Is a Sinus Headache?
Inflammation of sinus cavities causes the pressure that pushes against the skull and results in pain. In general, inflammation is triggered by allergies or infections. But there are other irritants that may block normal sinus drainage and cause the pressure build-up.
In addition to the pain, a sinus headache comes with several other symptoms. They usually include a runny or congested nose, post-nasal drip, and you might feel pain or numbness in the upper jaw. The nasal discharge might be green or yellow and the pain often worsens when you move the head.
If the inflammation becomes serious, you might even feel fatigue, fever, or chills. But when the pain is the only symptom, a sinus infection is not the likely cause. In this case, you might be having a migraine, rather than a sinus headache.
How to Get Rid of a Sinus Headache – Medical Treatments
There are four types of medications that alleviate the symptoms of sinus headaches. They are OCT painkillers, antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal steroid sprays. Except for nasal steroid sprays and some antihistamines, you don’t need a prescription for these medications.
However, it’s always best to consult with your physician to determine which one would work the best for you. Here are some important notes for each of the medications.
Drugs that contain ibuprofen or acetaminophen are good in providing pain relief. Even though they are OTC, there are certain things you should take into consideration.
Needless to say, you need to carefully read the label and make sure not to exceed the daily recommended dose. Painkillers shouldn’t be taken for more than 7 days in a row, unless prescribed by the doctor.
The painkillers may irritate your stomach, so it’s best to grab a bite or, at least, drink a glass of yogurt prior to the pill.
If an allergy is the cause of a sinus headache, antihistamines are usually a better option than painkillers. Although these medications work well for a variety of allergies, there is no such thing as a universal solution. Plus, there are potential side effects like drowsiness, dry mouth, or even nausea.
This is why it’s crucial to talk to your doctor before you start taking antihistamines. The tip applies even if you go for an OTC nasal spray.
Decongestants reduce the swelling and loosen the mucus that’s obstructing the normal sinus drainage. These medications are usually the first line of defense and they are very effective.
However, decongestants shouldn’t be taken lightly because they might even be addictive if used for too long. The recommended treatment duration caps at 3 days for sprays and the limit is 7 days for the oral alternative.
Nasal Steroid Sprays
These are prescription medications similar to spray decongestants. Nasal steroid sprays reduce the swelling, relieve pressure in the sinuses, and help with the pain.
You should know that it might take some time for the sprays to work, usually two weeks. It should be mentioned that exceeding the recommended number of applications doesn’t speed up the process. It might backfire and cause nose or throat irritation.
How to Get Rid of a Sinus Headache – Home Remedies
In some cases, home and traditional remedies work better than conventional medications and it’s safe to combine them with painkillers or antihistamines. That being said, nasal sprays and some traditional treatments don’t go well together.
For example, using a combination of the neti pot and a nasal spray is not a good idea because your nasal cavities will get irritated. Anyway, check out the quick rundown of best home remedies.
Neti pots are designed to help you rinse the nose and maintain optimal moisture to relieve some of the pressure. But using them might require some practice.
Fill up the pot with sterile water, lean over, and tilt your head left or right. It’s best to do this in the bathroom or over a sink. Insert the spout of the pot into the nostril that’s higher, breathe through your mouth, then pour in the water. The action flushes irritants from your nostrils and helps with the clogging.
Applying a warm washcloth can provide a quick relief from the pressure. The cloth should be placed over your nose and onto the cheeks. It’s enough to keep it there for a few minutes and you can repeat the process a few times during the day.
You can also put heated salt into a diaper rag and then apply it to the affected area. It helps loosen the mucus and opens up the obstructed airways.
Drinking plenty of herbal teas, coffee, and fruit juices increase your hydration levels. Tea may also help with a clogged or runny nose and fluids keep mucous membranes moist. This is more of a general advice that actual treatment and you should start hydrating as soon as the first symptoms of a sinus headache kick in.
According to the American Sinus Institute, essential oils are one of the best traditional remedies to ease sinus pressure. The oils include peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, frankincense, menthol, to name a few.
To reap the benefits, add a few drops of the oil into hot water and breathe in the steam. Certain essential oils have mild anesthetic properties. But there is still no medical study that confirms decongestant characteristics of menthol, for example.
Take a Deep Painless Breath
If you suffer from sinusitis (sinus infection) the pressure within your head may persist for two or more weeks. This doesn’t mean you’ll have the headache all the time. However, it’s best to start the treatment right away.
Begin with the essential oil inhalation and don’t forget to stay hydrated. Should the symptoms worsen, consider paying your doctor a visit. Remember, painkillers may provide relief but won’t completely treat allergy-induced sinusitis.