What causes sinus pressure and headache?
- Posted on: Mar 5 2019
We have all felt sinus pressure before. It is that ache in our face, around our eyes, and/or in our upper teeth. It can start dull and be a nuisance, but it can really become quite severe and incapacitating. Frequently in headache sufferers, it may then trigger a significant migraine, tension, or cluster headache episode.
It may also lead to a significant sinus infection and all the hassles of feeling sick, a visit to the doctor, and the side effects of antibiotic therapy.
What is Sinus Pressure?
Sinus pressure is actually a difference in the gas pressure in the sinus and the atmospheric pressure. When the sinus is healthy and the natural sinus outflow tract is open, the sinus pressure will naturally equilibrate with the changing atmospheric pressure. Since the pressures are equal, the sinus will feel normal and there will be no symptoms.
If the natural sinus outflow tract is partially or totally blocked from allergy, infection, or anatomical issues, the sinus cannot equilibrate to the changing pressure. As the atmospheric pressure changes, the greater the difference between the sinus pressure and the atmospheric pressure, the more pressure the patient will feel. Tiny pressure sensors in the sinus cavity sense the pressure difference and send the signals to the brain making the patient symptomatic.
Symptoms of Sinus Pressure
This signal to the brain may then trigger the central headaches (ie. migraine headache) and worsen the symptoms. The pressure difference can also cause the following:
- Swelling of the sinus lining
- Further blockage of the sinus outflow tract
- Pooled secretions in the sinus
- Sinus infection
How to treat Sinus Pressure
The best preventative therapy to avoid this recurring cycle of sinus pressure is allergy management. Avoidance using masks and rinsing the nose with saline following exposure can be very helpful. Using allergy medications such as antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays, and decongestants during the seasons that bother you can also reduce the cycle of sinus pressure. Allergy drop therapy is even more effective as this form of therapy under your tongue daily makes your body have antibodies to actually prevent the allergic reaction from occurring and can cure your allergies long-term.
If sinus pressure is a recurring issue, despite these measures listed above, it is likely that you have some form of anatomical issue that is blocking the sinus outflow tract or simply sinus outflow tracts that are naturally too narrow. A high resolution mini CT scan in our office can identify these issues. Modern office based Balloon sinuplasty procedures done under IV sedation, in our office procedure room, can resolve these anatomical issues. This procedure typically takes about 15 minutes and most patients can work the following day.
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If sinus pressure and associated headaches are an issue for you follow these recommendations for a future free of this nuisance.
Posted in: Sinus and Nasal