Sinus and migraine lead to severe headaches. A majority of the population suffer from it. But all migraine-related headaches are not due to the sinus. Sinusitis related migraine have specific symptoms and the remedies are easy to follow if done religiously. Let us first understand what triggers these headaches, as it will ease the way for figuring out the remedies.
Definition: a continuous pain in the head; a painful sensation in any part of the head, ranging from sharp to dull, that may occur with other symptoms.
This innocuous explanation does not do justice to a debilitating condition affecting several million people across the globe. The causes of headaches are too many. Here we are talking about a special kind – sinusitis migraines.
There are ways for the prevention and treatment of sinusitis migraines, commonly referred to as sinus headaches. The first step to get there is by first familiarizing ourselves with their causes and symptoms. It is also very important to distinguish between sinus-headaches and regular migraines.
Our Sinuses are a series of connected, hollow spaces behind the cheekbones, forehead and nose. They produce thin mucus. As air travels through the sinuses to the lungs, the mucus traps harmful particles like dust, pollutants and bacteria. This mucus drains out through the nose.
What are the causes of Sinusitis Migraine?
When the sinuses get inflamed, they swell and make more mucus. Too much mucus allows germs to grow. The germ build-up irritates the sinuses, causing the sinus tissue to swell, which in turn blocks the passage of the mucus. Unable to drain out, the liquid-filled swollen sinuses put pressure on the face leading to the pain that is termed a sinus headache or sinusitis migraine.
What causes the sinuses to get inflamed or infected?
- The common cold is most often to blame.
- Allergies can also trigger mucus production.
- Dust & pollution
- Seasonal allergies like cold and dry weather or pollen
- Exposure to pets
There are a few physiological conditions that combine
with a basic sinus infection to push it into the migraine zone.
- Nasal polyps– these abnormal growths in the nose or sinuses can block the mucus from draining.
- Deviated septum, which is when the line of cartilage and bone down the center of the nose isn’t straight, can prevent mucus from properly draining.
What are the symptoms of Sinusitis Migraine?
- When suffering from a sinusitis migraine, the patient’s face hurts, including a feeling of pain or fullness in the cheeks, brow, forehead and/or ears.
- There may be a constant dull ache behind the eyes or bridge of the nose.
- Instead of a dull ache, it might be a throbbing pain.
- The pain will typically worsen with sudden movements of the head or by bending forwards or lying down.
Besides facial pain, sinus headaches may also cause other symptoms, including
- stuffy or runny nose
- thick discoloured mucus discharge
- swollen or puffy face
- achy feeling in upper teeth
Difference between Sinusitis Migraines and regular Migraines
Sinus headaches are a very misunderstood illness. They are not as common as most people think and are often confused with the much more common migraines. Large population-based studies have shown how many of those diagnosed with migraines have mistakenly assumed they were suffering from sinus headaches. Migraines and headaches from sinusitis are easy to confuse because the signs and symptoms of the two types of headaches may overlap.
Treatment of sinus headaches
To get the correct treatment, it is first important to diagnose correctly. Sinus headaches are most commonly associated with viral infections, and unlike migraines, will last for several days or even weeks, depending on how long the infection lasts.
A doctor can diagnose a sinus headache based on symptoms and prescribe treatment. The focus is on draining the fluid from the mucus-filled spaces behind the cheeks to relieve the pressure and pain, as well as cooling the inflammation.
In a certain case where the pain persists for more than 12 weeks, a CT scan or MRI might be required for further diagnosis.
A. Established treatment options
Typically, these are the methods of treatment followed :
- Combination of the above.
- Inhaled nasal decongestants can be taken too for a short period.
- Pain relievers in extreme cases.
- Corticosteroids, to ease the inflammation
- Allergy medication, if the cause of the sinus flare-up is allergic reactions.
- Surgery to remove nasal polyps or correct a deviated septum in rare cases.
B. Alternative treatment methods
Several natural home remedies can be very useful in controlling or even preventing sinus headaches. These provide the ideal sinus treatment with no side-effects.
- Prevention :
- Humidifiers – Dry climate can make breathing tough for anyone; for those with sinus-related issues, it is sure to cause sinusitis due to t the irritation of the nostrils, especially in the dry weather of winter. The water vapour from a humidifier thins the mucus, removes any blockages and eases breathing, preventing the possibility of any pressure on the sinuses. Too much humidity, however, can lead to mould which causes respiratory problems as well. So it is important to maintain humidity between 30-50%.
- Nasal spray – Saltwater nasal sprays are a harmless preventive measure in keeping the nasal passages clear always.
- Food & drink – regular healthy diet; avoiding sweets and fried food; avoiding intake of milk and dairy products, which tend to increase mucus production; drinking warm fluids which help flush any toxins from the body – these are all simple and effective methods of being proactive in keeping sinus migraines at bay.
- Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and tobacco is usually considered an effective preventive step against sinus headaches.
- Exercise – Walking and any exercise undertaken in the fresh air helps keep the nasal passages clear, thus keeping any mucus build-up from happening.
- Weight-management – Reducing obesity and maintaining one’s weight can go a long way in reducing one’s risk for several diseases, including sinus headaches.
- Establish an easier breathing rhythm with nasyam– Ayurveda prescribes the Nasyam therapy, in which drops of oil are introduced into the nostrils. This promotes blood circulation to the head. It also removes toxins from the body and stimulates the mucus membranes. This helps prevent symptoms of sinus like swellings and infections.
- Cure :
- Steam inhalation – This is one of the most common sinus treatments at home. A piece of camphor or clove, basil (tulsi) leaf or a drop of eucalyptus oil added to hot water acts as a decongestant when inhaled. Steam showers can also provide temporary relief.
- Alternate Hot And Cold Compress – The warm towels can help in loosening the mucus. The cold towels provide relief from the pain.
- Turmeric – A pinch of turmeric in hot milk is a traditional herbal medicine used as sinus treatment in several Indian homes. Turmeric contains a chemical compound called curcumin, which has both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It helps reduce the swelling in the nasal cavity, thus reducing sinus pressure and helping de-congest.
- Hydration –
- Water hydrates the body from inside. It is the best mechanism for flushing all the toxins out which are causing the infection.
- Warm Tea – Mint clove tea, tea with ginger, black pepper, basil, or jaggery – all super-spices when it comes to nasal congestion.
- Ginger-lemon juice drunk slightly warm, can help clear nose-blocks and headaches.
- Humming – According to a report from researchers of Sweden, Humming can keep the sinuses clear. Humming can also increase airflow through the sinuses.
The Shiatsu self-massage techniques as shown below can be practiced for pain relief and relaxation –
Good sleep – Bad sleep can exacerbate the sinus problem. Sleeping in a warm, dark and humidified room with the head slightly elevated can help one breathe more comfortably.
- Yoga has several breathing techniques that are not only good for overall health but are particularly of special interest in respiration-related complaints. Yoga and pranayama can help clear nasal passages and can be effective for asthma and sinus treatments at home. For instance, the Kapalbhati Pranayama helps clear the respiratory passage. Bhastrika and Nadi Shodhan pranayama help in clearing congestion. Yoga poses like Hastapadasana and Setu Bandhasana can also help combat nasal issues.
All these home remedies are safe and tested ways of preventing and curing sinus headaches. However, if the problem persists or worsens, it is always well-advised to consult with a medical practitioner and undergo any further treatment necessary.