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Headache Specialist

Richard Ruiz, MD

Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgeon located in Temecula, CA

If you have a headache that seems to begin in your sinuses, it’s important to get an evaluation from a specialist who can distinguish between a true sinus headache and another primary headache like a migraine. Richard Ruiz M.D., Inc. has years of experience conducting thorough exams, including CT scans of your sinuses, and developing the best treatment for the underlying cause of your sinus headaches. To schedule an exam, call the office in Temecula, California or book an appointment online.

Headache Q & A

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What are sinus headaches?

Your sinuses are air-filled cavities located between your eyes and in the bones behind your nose, forehead, and cheeks. Each sinus is lined with a membrane that produces mucus, which flows through an opening into your nasal passages.

When these membranes become inflamed, typically due to a viral infection or allergies, the opening becomes blocked, mucus gets stuck in the sinus, and an infection develops. That’s when you have sinusitis.

As mucus builds up and the sinus becomes more swollen, sinusitis causes tremendous pressure that triggers a sinus headache.

How does nasal congestion contribute to a sinus headache?

Your nasal passages are also lined with mucus-producing membranes that moisturize your nose and trap dust and bacteria as they enter your nose.

When these tissues become inflamed, nasal congestion develops that affects your sinuses. The infection may spread from your nose into the sinuses, or the swollen nasal cavity may block sinus openings.

What are the symptoms of a sinus headache?

Beyond the classic headache pain, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Pain and pressure around your eyes and across your cheeks and forehead
  • An ache in your upper jaw or teeth
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Facial swelling
  • Nasal congestion
  • Yellow or green discharge

You may also feel generally fatigued, and your pain may be worse when you lie down or bend forward.

How is a sinus headache treated?

Before developing your treatment plan, Dr. Ruiz takes time to determine the exact type and cause of your headache. He completes a survey, which includes questions about your headaches, such as their frequency, severity, duration, and location.

Dr. Ruiz may also order an off-site CT scan of your sinuses to find evidence of sinusitis, determine the extent of the blockage, and see whether you have polyps or other abnormalities.

In addition to evaluating your sinuses, Dr. Ruiz needs to rule out other types of headaches, such as a migraine, which shares similar symptoms and is often confused with a sinus headache.

Your treatment plan may include one or more of the following:

  • A steam vaporizer or cool-mist humidifier
  • Hot and cold compresses
  • Nasal irrigation
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Decongestants and antihistamines
  • Nasal steroid sprays

If these conservative measures fail to relieve your symptoms, Dr. Ruiz may recommend minimally invasive surgery to unblock your sinuses or remove obstructions such as polyps.

If you have frequent headaches or over-the-counter medications don’t relieve your pain, call Richard Ruiz M.D., Inc. or book an appointment online.