man in tie pressing fingers to his closed eyes in pain

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5 Natural Remedies for Sinus Headaches

You know the feeling... Throbbing pain in your temples. Pounding pain across your forehead, on top of you head, behind your eyes, or around your cheekbones. Painful tightness in the back of your neck and down into your shoulders. Sometimes even into your teeth.

It's another sinus headache. 

Or Maybe It's Really a Migraine

Luckily, there are effective natural remedies for your pain, no matter what name you give it. But most experts do agree that a true sinus headache is very rare. For example, a study by The Headache Care Center found that 97% of all reported “sinus headaches” are actually migraines.

The confusion happens, doctors say, because both sinus headaches and migraines have a lot of symptoms in common. For example, they both cause head pain (especially in the forehead), runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, and pain when you move.

But migraines usually include additional symptoms, like nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to sound or light, and a terrible throbbing pain on one side of the head.

Then What Is a True Sinus Headache?

It's a headache, yes. But unlike other headache pain, the source of the problem is an infection.

Your sinuses are air-filled sacs that connect to each side of your nose. Their job is to help clean the air you inhale through your nostrils. The fairly complex network of sinus cavities winds throughout your forehead, cheekbones and behind the bridge of your nose.

When infection inflames that network, congestion occurs. It’s that invasive congestion that produces painful pressure.

In addition, a true sinus headache usually gives you a fever. That’s why people with one do not first complain about head pain. Instead, they say that they “feel sick” and a headache is part of it.

How Do Doctors Treat a Real Sinus Headache?

Treatment usually starts with over-the-counter decongestants and pain relievers.

Sometimes the doctor will also recommend “nasal irrigation,” where you slowly pour a saltwater (saline) solution into one nostril. As it flows through your nasal cavity into your other nostril, it washes out mucus and drains some of the congestion.

If you don’t feel better soon, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic (or even nasal steroid) to treat the underlying infection.

Natural Sinus Headache Remedies

If you have a tendency to develop genuine sinus headaches, then the best natural sinus headache remedies are geared at preventing the next infection. Start with these 5 lifestyle changes:

1. First of all, hydrate! And then hydrate some more! Drinking plenty of water moisturizes your sinuses and helps your body flush out toxins that will only increase your chances for a future infection. Herbal teas are also great because inhaling steam from the cup may loosen any sinus congestion that’s building up, and encourage it to drain.

2. In addition, avoid dairy as much as possible. All milk products increase mucus production, which will only make your sinuses more congested and more prone to infection and resulting headache.

3. Use a humidifier. A dry climate can trigger sinus inflammation, so compensate with a humidifier. Keep one going in your office if you can, and definitely use one in your bedroom while you sleep.

4. Try essential oils for relief. Gently massage a few drops of peppermint and lavender oil onto your forehead, temples and the back of your neck. (Some people like to add eucalyptus.) Or make this approach easier with Headache ReLeaf Roll-On, the herbal medicine that blends essential oils and menthol with purified water, one of the simplest yet effective natural sinus headache remedies. Gently roll it over the areas that hurt and feel relief in minutes.

5. Finally, cleanse your nasal passages. A daily nasal wash has been found to relieve sinus congestion and pain, lowering your risk for a future infection. Available in virtually any drug store, Neti Pots make nasal irrigation a lot easier. They’re well worth the investment.

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