What causes a sinus pressure headache?
Is there a road crew inside your head, hammering away, building a highway to your brain?
Sometimes, it feels like that’s the case.
But usually, the cause of our pain has to do with mucus buildup, and with our sinus cavities.
The sinus cavities are technically known as “paranasal sinuses.” These are air-filled spaces that are located inside the bones of our face and skull. The paranasal sinuses are joined to our nasal cavity.
When our nasal lining becomes irritated, inflamed and swollen, our paranasal sinuses can become blocked. This means the drainage of mucus gets blocked, too. And that’s where a sinus pressure headache usually begins.
There are lots of reasons we can wind up with inflamed nasal lining. For example, here are a few of the most common causes:
- a common cold, often caused by a virus
- environmental allergies; including pollution and dust
- food allergies
- sinus infection
Usually, our nasal mucus is thin and clear, and we don’t really pay it too much attention. If something causes our mucus drainage to be blocked though, we can wind up with increased pressure in our sinuses, or even an infection.
Unfortunately, when we have a cold, the cause is often times viral. If we have a viral infection, we’re usually stuck just waiting it out. But if mucus is trapped for long enough, bacteria can collect there too. When that happens, we can wind up with double trouble: a bacterial infection, on top of the viral infection. When there’s a bacterial infection, our health care provider may need to prescribe antibiotics for us.
In some cases, medicines can be used to help decrease the swelling in our nasal passages, and help restore the normal flow of mucus. Sinus irrigation (also known as sinus rinsing and nasal irrigation) has been found to be very helpful in keeping our nasal passages clear. It’s usually only after the swelling has been decreased that we can expect to say goodbye to our sinus pressure headache.