Sinus Headaches Seattle

Every year millions of people will visit the doctor for headaches. Headaches have several possible causes including sinus problems. If you already have sinusitis or other similar problems, you may wonder if your headaches are connected to your sinus issues. Others may experience headaches without knowing their sinuses are the cause. Dr. David Santos at Sinusitis In Seattle can determine if sinus problems are causing your headaches. He can also create a treatment plan to address your sinus headaches and relieve your pain. Dr. Santos provides the best treatment for sinus headaches Seattle has to offer.


Sinus headaches usually occur in conjunction with sinusitis and other symptoms. People experiencing a sinus headache may feel pain in their face, especially around the forehead, cheeks, and eyes. Patients may also have a throbbing sensation. If a patient has no other symptoms, it is less likely to be a sinus headache.

Dr. Santos will want to rule out other types of headaches and causes of headaches. This will involve a consultation where you can discuss your headaches and symptoms to determine if sinus headaches are a likely cause of your discomfort.


The most common cause of sinus headaches is sinus congestion and inflammation. This usually occurs during sinusitis–whether acute, subacute, or chronic. Often, addressing the sinusitis will relieve most of your headache pain and symptoms.

What happens during sinusitis? During a sinus infection or chronic sinusitis, the sinuses become filled with mucus, pollutants, and allergens. Nasal polyps may also be present. This buildup of mucus causes pressure in the face and head which can result in sinus pressure and pain. 

Sinus headaches caused by this congestion tend to worsen when bending over. Frequently, sinus headache sufferers will experience other sinusitis symptoms, or have a condition related to the respiratory system. For example, patients with allergies may get a sinus headache during an allergy flareup.



Sinusitis symptoms vary from patient to patient. In general, they have many of the same symptoms as other headaches, which can make sinus headaches particularly difficult to diagnose. Migraines can occur along with side sinusitis and sinus headaches. Therefore, most sinus headaches will have symptoms indicative of sinusitis.

For those who have sinus headaches, they may also have:

  • Facial pressure (especially around the eyes, nose, forehead, and cheeks)
  • Pain and pressure in the head and face
  • Congested nose
  • Toothache
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Swollen face


Headaches have hundreds of possible causes. Typically, treatment and diagnoses will begin with your primary care physician. If other types of headaches and causes are ruled out, or if you have already been diagnosed with a sinus condition, your doctor may refer you to an ENT specialist like Dr. Santos.

There are three main types of headaches often mistaken for each other. Each headache can also occur with sinus congestion and symptoms. To determine if you are experiencing a specific sinus headache, Dr. Santos may use various methods such as a physical exam, imaging, and endoscopy to determine if you have sinus inflammation indicative of sinusitis.


A tension headache, also called a stress headache, features mild to moderate pain that can occur throughout the head. It is usually caused by stress, lack of sleep, or dehydration. Like a sinus headache, these headaches do not feature the intensity of a migraine (though can become a migraine or exhibit more severe symptoms). 

Tension headaches are the most common daily headache and can be brought on by several triggers. Generally, they will not occur with other symptoms which can separate them from a sinus headache.


Migraines are more intense headaches that are typically more painful than tension headaches and come with many symptoms. The pain from a migraine also often occurs on only one side of the head. Migraines can exhibit many symptoms such as nausea, light sensitivity, and auras. This type of headache also generally lasts at least a day or more.

Migraines are the most common condition misdiagnosed as sinus headaches and vice versa. With migraine pain occasionally occurring around the eye and in the face, a doctor is necessary to determine the cause. Additionally, migraines and tension headaches can show symptoms of each other and hard to differentiate. These headaches–where it is neither fully a tension headache nor migraine–are called mixed headaches.


Sinus headaches–as described–happen due to congestion or inflammation in the sinuses. They feature pain in the forehead and face. They are often hard to pinpoint without further testing to look for sinus congestion or irritation.

Similar to tension headaches, sinus headaches generally last for a few hours at a time. They are most common in people with allergies and may occur seasonally.


Tension Migraine Sinus
  • Generally lasts around a few hours
  • Pain can range from mild to moderate
  • Pain felt across the head, often starts in the forehead or back of the head
  • Usually shows no other symptoms
  • Usually lasts at least a day, can last for many
  • Pain is more severe
  • Pain typically affects one side of the head or can be localized
  • Frequently comes with other symptoms
  • On average lasts a few hours
  • Mild to moderate pain
  • Generally affects the face and forehead
  • Most common with other symptoms of sinusitis
  • May be seasonal



When caused by a sinus problem, the most effective treatment for a sinus headache is to treat the underlying congestion and inflammation. This will usually alleviate most pain and reduce the frequency of sinus headaches.

First, you should try home remedies and non-surgical therapies. Sinus headaches can occur during an acute sinus infection which will subside within a couple of weeks or is easily treated with antibiotics. 

If, after trying other therapies, you do not find relief from sinus pressure or headaches. Dr. Santos may recommend sinus surgery to manually drain the sinuses and resolve your sinus issues. You and Dr. Santos can discuss the various treatment options during a consultation at Sinusitis In Seattle.

Home Remedies

There are many home remedies and at-home treatments for sinus headaches. Dr. Santos may recommend or prescribe some as part of your customized treatment plan. Some of these treatments can include:

  • Over-the-counter decongestants and pain relievers
  • Nasal spray (usually for no more than three days)
  • Sinus irrigation
  • Prescription steroids
  • Antibiotics (if related to a bacterial infection)
  • Humidifiers
  • Drink more water

Depending on the cause of your sinusitis and sinus headaches, Dr. Santos may recommend other non-surgical treatments to manage your symptoms. For instance, if your sinus headaches are due to allergies, Dr. Santos may prescribe immunotherapy or allergy medication.

Sinus Surgery

While it is rare for patients whose only complaint is headaches to undergo sinus surgery, it can happen. Patients who initially come in for headaches may also show or develop other symptoms. When Dr. Santos believes that surgery is the best option for long term relief of your sinusitis and headaches, he will create a surgical plan custom to you.

Dr. Santos performs three main types of sinus surgery. Each surgery does not use external incisions, involves a minimal recovery, and generally has the same goals. During sinus surgery, the sinuses are expanded and drained. Other structures or pollutants are often removed. This clears up the airways and sinus cavities.

The three surgeries Dr. Santos regularly performs are:

Before surgery, Dr. Santos will describe each procedure thoroughly and the one best for you. He may also recommend accompanying procedures for the best relief from sinus symptoms.



How Long Do Sinus Headaches Last?

The frequency and length of a sinus headache varies. On average, sinus headaches peak within a few hours before subsiding. People may experience more than one headache a day, or find the headaches are triggered by something. For people with allergies, contact with allergens may bring on a headache.

Do Sinus Infections Cause Headaches?

Yes, even an acute sinus infection that only lasts a week can cause a sinus headache. Sinus headaches are seen with all types of sinusitis and sinus conditions. Most of the time, once the infection clears, so will the headaches.

Can I Take Painkillers To Relieve A Sinus Headache?

Yes, it is usually fine to take over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol or Ibuprofen to treat a sinus headache. It is best to use with a decongestant to treat the cause of the sinus headache, clogged sinuses.

Can Dry Sinuses Cause Headaches?

Clogged sinuses are the most frequent cause of sinus headaches. However, overly dry sinuses can also cause sinus irritation and headaches. This may lead to pain without congestion, which is hard to diagnose as a sinus headache without specialist evaluation. Dr. Santos can assess whether your headaches may be sinus related.

How To Get Rid Of A Sinus Headache?

If you suffer from recurrent sinus headaches, it can become especially painful and frustrating. The best way to get rid of a sinus headache is to consult with a specialist in the sinuses and anatomy of the head. As an otolaryngologist, Dr. Santos is board certified to perform sinus surgery and evaluate sinus problems of all kinds. He can provide advice on the best way to get rid of your sinus headaches.


Dr. David Santos at Sinusitis In Seattle has decades of experience as an ENT surgeon and doctor, treating a variety of sinus conditions. When it comes to sinus headaches, Dr. Santos will determine whether your headaches may have a link to your sinuses. He will then discuss the possible treatments for the condition and the ways you can best manage your sinus headaches at home. 

Sinusitis In Seattle is your premier destination for sinusitis treatment in Seattle. With advanced technology and techniques, Dr. Santos can diagnose and treat all major sinus conditions with surgical and non-surgical methods. Dr. David Santos provides the best treatment for sinus headaches Seattle offers.

To learn more about sinus headaches and schedule a consultation, call us at (206) 242-3696 or contact us online.

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