Many people who believe they have sinus headaches really are suffering from something else. In fact, one study showed that of 100 people who said they had sinus headaches, almost 90% actually appeared to have migraine headaches. Only a small minority — about 3%, actually had sinus headaches. This means that before you start any sinus headache treatments, you need to get an accurate diagnosis. An accurate diagnosis will ensure that you get the treatment you need for your sinus headaches.
See Your Healthcare Provider
You need to see your healthcare provider to get an accurate diagnosis before you begin any sinus headache treatments. Most sinus headaches are caused by a condition called sinusitis but they can also be the result of something far more serious such as a weak immune system or a tumor.
If your healthcare provider does determine that you have sinus headaches caused by sinusitis, there are a number of treatments available.
Over-the-counter Pain Medications
The first and simplest answer is to try an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen or acetaminophen (brand names such as Advil, Tylenol and Aleve). Be sure to read the directions for the use of any of these medications and follow them carefully. Also, you should not use any of these pain relievers for more than 10 days in a row unless advised otherwise by your doctor.
Decongestants For Sinus Headache Treatments
A second possible answer is to use a decongestant as these can help reduce the swelling in your nasal passages and reduce the amount of mucus being produced. Again, be sure to follow the directions that come with the medication. You should not use nasal decongestant sprays for more than three consecutive days and oral decongestants for more than seven consecutive days, again unless advised otherwise by your doctor.
Two of the more popular over-the-counter decongestants available in pill form are Contac Non-drowsy® and Sudafed PE®. Both of these medications contain pseudoephedrine so you may have to talk to a pharmacist to buy one of these products.
Examples of decongestants available in spray or nose drop form include Afrin®, Sine-off®, Contac-D® and Sudafed®. Nasonex® and Lemsip Max Sinus® are other decongestant sprays that have as their active ingredient oxymetazoline instead of pseudoephedrine.
Another Alternative — Antihistamines
Some people have found that their sinus problems are caused by an allergy. If this is the case for you, you can find relief for your sinusitis — or sinus headaches — by using an antihistamine.
Histamine is an inflammatory chemical that can be released by your immune system cells because of an infection or allergy. Histamine signals your system to produce mucus in your nose and sinuses. Antihistamines block this signal, which reduces future mucus production. However, antihistamines will not get rid of any mucus you already have, as this is what decongestants are for.
There are many different antihistamines available. One of the most popular is the generic drug diphenhydramaine, which does not require a prescription. Claritin(® Alavert® and Zyrtec® are three brand name antihistamines also available over-the-counter.
Prescription Medications For Sinus Headache Treatments
If you have tried treating your sinus headaches with one or more of these over-the-counter medications without success, your doctor may write you a prescription for an antibiotic such as Amoxil, Cipro or Levaquin. Alternatively, your healthcare provider might prescribe a corticosteroid nasal spray such as Flonase, Nasacort, Nasarel or Nasonex.
Treating Sinus Headaches As If They Were Migraines
Some otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat specialists) have had success treating sinus headaches as if they were migraines using prescription triptans. Tripans are a family of tryptamine-based drugs thought to work by constricting blood vessels in the brain. In one study, more than 80% of those treated with triptans found relief from their sinus headaches. Triptans that have been used to treat migraine headaches and that could be prescribed for sinus headaches include Sumatriptan (Imitrex), Rizatriptan (Maxalt) and Naratriptan (Amerge).
Supplements For Sinus Headache Treatments
There are natural supplements available that have helped some people with their sinus headaches. For example, there is Clear-Ease Sinus Relief Tablets, Aller-Max, Alacer Emergen-C, Activin Grape Seed Extract, Probiotics, Bromelain and Quercertin. Bromelain is based on an enzyme extracted from pineapple and Quercetin is a plant-derived flavonoid. Both Bromelain and Quercetin are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Quercetin has the added benefit of having antioxidant properties.
Finally, some sinus headaches sufferers have found relief through acupuncture treatments.