Not every headache is the consequence of sinus and nasal passage problems. For example, many patients visit an ear, nose, and throat specialist to seek treatment for a sinus headache and learn they actually have a migraine or tension headache. The confusion is common, a migraine can cause irritation of the trigeminal or fifth cranial nerve (with branches in the forehead, cheeks and jaw). This may produce pain at the lower-end branches of the nerve, in or near the sinus cavity.
Symptoms Of Sinusitis
Pain in the sinus area does not automatically mean that you have a sinus disorder. On the other hand, sinus and nasal passages can become inflamed leading to a headache. Headache is present in about 20% of patients diagnosed with acute or chronic sinusitis. In addition to a headache, sinusitis patients often complain of:
• Nasal congestion and stuffiness
• Pain and pressure around the eyes, across the cheeks and the forehead
• Decreased sense of smell
• Achy feeling in the upper teeth
• Yellow or green nasal discharge – anteriorly or posteriorly
However, it is important to note that there are some cases of headaches related to chronic sinusitis without other upper respiratory symptoms. This suggests that an examination for sinusitis be considered when treatment for a migraine or other headache disorder is unsuccessful.