How to Identify Sinus Infection Headache Symptoms

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Sinus infections can happen any time of the year, to anyone. Knowing the difference between a sinus infection and a common cold is important because colds, which are caused by viruses, do not respond to antibiotics, whereas sinus infections, which are usually bacterial, do.The common cold can lead to a sinus infection, but sinus infections can also be caused by allergies or anything else that causes irritation of the sinuses. Lack of humidity can make the sinuses dry out and predisposes sinuses to infection.Whatever the cause of infection, sinus infections all have common, recognizable symptoms; also, sinus infection headaches are usually distinct from other kinds of headaches.

Assess the location of the headache. The pain of sinus headaches can be spread all over the head, but is most commonly felt as pressure and tenderness above the eyes, along the sides of the nose, on the tops of the cheekbones, and even along the jaw line.

Press on the face around the nose and eyes. If this area is tender, a sinus infection is likely the cause of your headache.

Determine if there is pain in the teeth or eyes. Sinus infection headaches often cause the teeth and/or eyes to feel very achy. The face has many nerves and it is no surprise that infection in one area would cause pain in another facial area.

Look at the color of the mucus. Sinus infections often create yellow or green mucus which may be blood tinged. If you have a headache and are producing green or yellow mucus, your headache is likely a sinus infection headache.

Use your sense of smell, or ask another to smell your breath. Infection of any kind has an unpleasant odor. If you are suffering from a sinus headache, you may not be able to note a change in the odor of your breath (caused by infection draining into the throat) but people around you will be able to detect the odor.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you suffer from frequent sinus infections, you can prevent them by keeping sinus membranes moist with a sterile saline spray
  • In the language of medicine, the term "sinuses" actually denotes any small cavities found throughout the body; but what lay people usually mean by the word, of course, are the sinuses found in the bones of the face
  • Inhaling warm, moist air can provide some relief from a sinus headache. Try filling a sink basin with hot water and inhaling the warm steam (but be careful not to burn yourself)
  • Some sinus infections will clear up without antibiotics, but many do not. If home treatments do not work, you should visit your doctor. Infections left unchecked can travel and cause serious illness elsewhere in the body.

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