How are sinus headaches differentiated from other headaches?
My husband often gets sinus headaches. However, he has recently been having a bad headache for a few days now. I am wondering how sinus headaches are differentiated from other causes of headaches?
Headaches can be pretty painful and can really affect your husband’s quality of life!
Before we assume though that sinus problems are causing his headaches, we would usually take a detailed history to find out the location and pattern of the headaches as well as other associated symptoms like blocked or runny nose, colour of his nasal discharge, any nausea or vomiting, vision problems.
For example, headaches which are more likely to be due to sinus problems may occur over the forehead, between the eyes, over the cheeks. Sinusitis-related headaches also tend to be associated with nasal problems as stated previously.
As headaches may be caused by many other conditions apart from sinus infections, it is very important to examine your husband properly because we do not wish to miss more serious conditions like bleeding events in the brain or rarely, tumours.
A thorough detailed examination of the nose and sinuses is performed with a flexible nasal endoscope/camera. A special scan of the brain and sinuses may also be carried out to give us a full view of all the structures inside the head.
One of the most common causes of headaches, even more common than sinusitis-related headaches, is migraine or stress-related tension headache.
In such cases like your husband’s, the safest way forward is always to see the patient face to face and examine him properly to reach the correct diagnosis and start the right treatment for him.
I have summarized the different types of headaches in a recent question posted in DxD.
Hope this will be useful to you. If in doubt and your husband's headaches has been ongoing for a while, you should ask him to see a General Practitioner first unless he also has concurrent nose symptoms (in which case he may consider seeing an ENT Specialist first).
Hope this helps and all the best!