How to Relieve a Sinus Pressure Headache

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After identifying a headache as a sinus pressure headache, the best way to treat the headache is by decongesting the nose with the use of over-the-counter decongestants. Learn about using nasal sprays or neti pots to treat sinus pressure with help from a doctor and pediatrician in this free video on sinus headache treatments.

Part of the Video Series: Headache Treatments
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Doctor David Hill, and today we're going to be talking about how to relieve a sinus pressure headache. The first thing to know is, do you have a sinus pressure headache? Those are usually located either here or here, sometimes on both sides. This is where your maxillary sinuses are. Or, sometimes they're located up here, again often on one side, where your frontal sinuses are. Now, there are also ethynoid and sphenoid sinuses that are deeper in the head, but they're less likely to cause a headache. Another thing is to think about, is your age. Children, especially children under age ten, almost never get sinus pain as a sign of sinusitis. So, if a child of that age is complaining of a headache, it's very unlikely that it's due to the child's sinuses. That probably needs to be brought to a doctor's attention so the doctor can figure out what really is causing the headache. But, if you have classic sinus pressure, and also symptoms of a sinus infection, such as runny nose, stuffy nose, cough, sore throat or fever, chances are good you're right about the cause. Then, what can you do? Well, there's a couple of things. For example, there's over-the-counter decongestants, such as Afrin. This is probably the most effective way to decongest the nose, compared to using an oral decongestant, like phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine, and probably also the safest. But, you only want to use those nose sprays for two or three days at most. Using them for longer periods can cause rebound congestion when you stop. So, put a little mark on your calendar and make sure you stop after two or three days. You can also use an ancient relief called a Neti pot.This looks kind of like a wizard or a genie's lantern, rather, or a teapot. It's designed to introduce some saltwater into the nose. Now, where are you going to get saltwater? You don't have to have to move to the ocean if you don't live there already. You can actually make normal saline solution with one cup of water and a half a teaspoon of salt. You might do well to boil that and let it come to room temperature, so you know that it's relatively clean and sterile, and the salt is fully dissolved. Then, you can introduce that into each side of the nostril, or each side of the nose, using the Neti pot. That's been shown to relieve sinusitis. Now, for people who have a sinus infection, the doctor can also prescribe nasal corticosteroids, such as fluticasone, or mometasone, flonase or nasonex, for example. And that will cut down inflammation inside the nose, cut down the swelling, and allow the sinuses to drain. Lastly, if you're having these symptoms, your doctor may want to prescribe an antibiotic. Now, the medical literature has not shown that antibiotics make nearly as much difference as we would like them to in treating acute sinus infection, but it's another modality your doctor may choose to use. So, talking about how to relieve sinus, headache congestion, I am Doctor David Hill.

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