Sinus Headaches

at NW Face Medical - Serving Kirkland, Bellevue & Seattle

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Sinus Headache Treatment in Kirkland, WA

Here in the Northwest, one of the most common sinus problems people experience is headaches caused by pressure that builds up in the sinuses. These sinus headaches range in severity from mild (occasional pressure and discomfort) to severe (chronic, disruptive pain). Sinus headaches can cause discomfort on their own, but they can also exacerbate other problems. If you regularly suffer from migraines, then a blockage in the sinuses may be causing your migraine symptoms to worsen.

Dr. Sunil Ummat, MD, is a double board-certified ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) specialist with over 15 years of expertise in the field. Dr. Ummat and the staff at NW Face Medical help patients suffering from sinus headaches in Kirkland and Bellevue, WA and throughout the Seattle metro area find relief.

What are Sinus Headaches?

What is a sinus headache and how do you know if you are experiencing one? To answer that, it is important to know what the sinuses are in the first place. Sinuses are the air-filled spaces in the forehead, cheeks, and behind the nose. The sinuses create a thin mucus which drains into the nasal passages and helps to protect them. However, when the sinuses are inflamed or blocked, congestion and pressure can occur. The sinus cavity becomes blocked and prevents mucus from draining, resulting in a sinus headache.

Many people who regularly suffer from this type of blockage, whether due to allergies or another cause, notice that their sinus headaches worsen when the weather changes, they fly on a plane, or even drive up a hill. The sinus blockage makes them incredibly sensitive to pressure changes so that in a sense, they become a “human barometer.”

The areas in which patients experience pain from sinus headaches differ quite a bit from person to person, but the most common regions are:

  • Over the sinuses in the cheeks
  • Between the eyes
  • In the brow and forehead
  • Behind the eyes

The good news is that the vast majority of sinus headache problems can be treated using conservative, non-invasive methods.

Treatment for Chronic Sinus Headaches

Individuals suffering from sinus headaches who have sought treatment from a primary physician with little success may find it beneficial to seek other treatment options from a specialist. Although primary care physicians can often help patients with occasional sinus headaches, an ENT is better suited to helping patients with chronic sinus problems. Treatment for chronic sinus headaches can provide significant relief for those who suffer from them and make their daily lives much more enjoyable.

Candidates for Sinus Treatment

At NW Face Medical, Dr. Sunil Ummat and his staff treat sinus problems ranging from simple to complex. Some of our patients are struggling with an acute sinus infection, while others have ongoing sinus congestion that won’t go away. Individuals who may be the best candidates for sinus headache treatment have typically experienced one or more of the following:

  • Chronic sinusitis that has not responded to antibiotics and care from their primary doctor.
  • Acute sinus infections three or more times a year.
  • Recurrent sinus infections of which the underlying cause is allergies.
  • Sinus disorders which haven’t been successfully managed with allergy treatment.

Other patients we treat include those with complex sinus disorders that require a second opinion about endoscopic sinus surgery, rare sinus disorders like fungal sinusitis, osteomyelitis, or cerebrospinal fluid leaks, and people with nasal polyposis such as triad asthma or nasal polyps. Individuals who have had a significant decrease in sense of smell or taste due to sinus problems may also be good candidates for sinus headache treatment. Since the cause of sinus headaches can vary, it is important for each patient to meet with Dr. Ummat for a thorough diagnosis and custom treatment plan.

The Consultation

When you come in for a sinus headache consultation in Kirkland, WA, one of the most valuable tools at our team’s disposal will simply be a detailed medical history, including any medications you are taking. There are many clues that may point to the sinuses as the source of headaches. Additional diagnostic steps may be recommended, including examining the nasal passages with a thin endoscope, an MRI, or a CT scan of the sinuses. If indeed there is blockage of the sinuses, then it is typically clear that the problem is sinus-related. The doctor may discuss surgical options if other treatments do not prove effective.

Patients should come to their consultation with any questions or concerns they may have about their condition or possible treatment options. Some patients have already tried using a nasal spray or home remedies and may be good candidates for more invasive intervention. Dr. Ummat may recommend more conservative treatments for patients who have not yet exhausted these options, however. Minimal intervention is always preferred whenever possible.

Treatment Options for Sinus Headaches

Treatment for sinus headaches is typically used to relieve symptoms and treat any underlying sinus infections. If an infection is present, Dr. Sunil Ummat typically prescribes antibiotics to treat the infection with an antihistamine or decongestant for symptoms. It is important to note that taking decongestants without an actual sinus headache could make symptoms worse. Patients must take the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed, even if they feel better after a few doses. This is because the infection may not be fully under control, even if symptoms start to disappear.

Along with antibiotics and medication to treat symptoms, analgesics like aspirin and ibuprofen, vasoconstrictors, and sometimes corticosteroids may be prescribed. If sinus problems are allergy-related, then preventative allergy medication including a nasal spray may be recommended and prescribed by the doctor.

Additional aspects of the chronic sinus headache treatment protocol often include keeping the home’s air warm and moist with a humidifier, since dry air can trigger symptoms in patients with sinusitis. Warm compresses often can provide pain relief in the nose and sinuses. Saline drops for the nose may also be recommended to relieve dryness and reduce discomfort.

If these treatments are unsuccessful, Dr. Sunil Ummat may recommend endoscopic sinus surgery as a good option to relieve sinus problems long-term.

Why Choose Dr. Ummat?

Dr. Sunil Ummat, MD, a board-certified ENT specialist, brings more than 15 years of ear, nose and throat experience to his Seattle area practice serving all of Kirkland, Bellevue, and surrounding suburbs. His strong focus on patient care combined with the excellent results he is able to achieve have earned him a reputation as one of the top otolaryngologists in the Seattle area. He sees patients for a wide range of ear, nose, and throat problems, including sinus headaches, in Kirkland, WA.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sinus Headaches

What are the symptoms of sinus headaches?
Sinus headaches cause deep, constant pain in the forehead, bridge of the nose, and cheekbones. Sudden head movement or straining can make the pain worse. Nasal discharge, full feeling in the ears, fever, and swelling of the face are all common symptoms of sinus headaches. These headaches can disrupt a person’s everyday life, especially if they become a chronic problem.

Do migraine headaches cause sinus pain?
Not typically. Migraine headaches are often mistaken for sinus headaches but are generally not caused by sinus congestion. While not causal, migraine headaches can be associated with sinus and nasal congestion. According to studies, over 95% of headaches labeled “sinus headaches” are in fact migraines. Therefore, while nasal congestion can accompany a migraine, it is most likely not the cause of the headache and should be treated separately.

How can I tell if my headache is a sinus headache and not a migraine?
There are a few ways to tell if your headache is being caused by a sinus cavity blockage or infection. Often, the headache is accompanied by fever if the headache is sinus-related. Dr. Ummat may order a CT scan, MRI, or endoscopy to see if a sinus blockage is to blame for your headaches.

What types of medications can treat sinus headaches?
In many cases, the most effective treatments are anti-inflammatory and antihistamine nasal sprays (oral tablets are generally useful only for temporary relief). If an active sinus infection is present, then an antibiotic may be prescribed. In some cases, putting a potent anti-inflammatory medication directly into the nasal tissues (essentially painless) may offer dramatic and rapid relief. Allergy testing and treatment may be of benefit to the patient as well. If all else fails, endoscopic sinus surgery may be recommended.

If you’re suffering from sinus headaches and have tried various treatment options with your primary care provider with little success, it’s time to seek specialized treatment. Dr. Sunil Ummat, MD has earned a reputation for excellent results and quality patient care for ENT problems like sinus headaches across Kirkland, Bellevue, WA and the surrounding Seattle areas for more than 15 years. To request an appointment to consult with the doctor, call our Kirkland office at (425) 522-0555.

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