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Treating Sinus Headaches

Your clogged sinuses can give you pain and pressure above your nose and between your eyes, but the right treatment can bring relief. First, you need to find out if a sinus headache is the cause of your discomfort.


Typically, sinus headaches cause:

  • Pain and pressure around the sinuses -- in the forehead, especially behind and between the eyes, and above the nose. These areas may be tender to the touch.
  • Pain that gets worse with movement, like bending over or lying down.

If headache pain is your only symptom, you probably don't have a sinus headache. A sinus headache usually has other symptoms as well, including:


Your doctor may suggest treating the pain and the underlying causes of your sinus headache at the same.

Here are some things you can try:

Over-the-counter painkillers. Drugs like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium may help. Always read and follow the label, and don't use them for more than 10 days at a time without talking to your doctor.

Decongestants. These medicines, which you can buy without a prescription, help open your blocked sinus cavities. They do this by reducing the swelling and mucus in your nasal passages.

Follow the instructions carefully. Don't use nasal decongestant sprays for more than 3 days in a row because you can get rebound congestion when you stop the medicine. And don't use oral decongestants for more than 7 days. If you are already taking a pain medicine, make sure the decongestant doesn't have it as well.

Nasal steroid sprays. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe these sprays and other drugs to reduce your congestion and pain.

Antihistamines. These drugs may help if your sinus problems are due to allergies.

Keep your nasal passages moist. Dry air can irritate your sinuses, so use a humidifier or vaporizer. Other options include holding a warm, wet towel over your face for a few minutes or using a saline solution nasal spray.

Use salt water. Get a bulb syringe or neti pot and flush out your sinuses with salt water. It moistens and helps clear mucus from your nasal passages, helping to reduce the pressure.

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