Sinus Pressure Without Congestion
Sinus pressure is a common condition, especially in cold months when the air is drier and your sinuses can become more irritated. The indicators for the sinus pressure range from a variety of different symptoms, most of them overlapping with indicators for migraines. However, there are key differences to each condition that should help you differentiate from them.
What is Sinus Pressure?
Sinus pressure, sinusitis, or sinus infection, is a dull ache in your sinuses caused by inflammation or swelling in your nasal passages. Sinuses are four cavities in the head that are connected by small passages. Some of the most common symptom combinations people report are sinus pressure with no congestion or sinusitis without congestion.
The purpose of sinuses is to make mucus that drains out of the nose. Through this draining, the mucus can clean the nose of bacteria and other allergens. However, when these passages become irritated or inflamed, the mucus can build up, and this causes pain or pressure in the sinuses. This can be triggered by either the weather, seasonal allergies, or cold symptoms. Deviated septums are also likely to cause sinus pressure more frequently. Therefore, if you have sinus pressure, it is good to understand the underlying cause. Recognizing this can help influence whether you are at a higher risk of developing sinus pressure again.
Sinus Headache vs. Migraine
Firstly, sinus headaches are headaches that feel like pressure in your sinuses. You may feel this around your eyes, forehead, and cheeks.
Some symptoms of sinus headaches include:
- Pain and pressure around your eyes, forehead, cheeks, teeth, and ears
- Sinus pressure on one side of the face
- Stuffy nose
- Swollen face
- Mucus like nasal discharge
- Head congestion without nasal congestion
Often, sinus headaches don’t include all of these symptoms. For example, people report feeling sinus pressure without nasal mucus discharge. Similarly, they also report sinusitis pressure without a stuffy nose. These combinations of symptoms are widespread.
If you have a sinus headache, you can do a few things to relieve the pain or help your sinus’ heal faster. Here are some options:
- Look into over-the-counter pain medication. Medicine like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help relieve some of the pain you are experiencing due to the headache
- Steam and water vapor help keep the sinus’ moist as dryness can continue to irritate them. We recommend that you take a hot bath and breathe in the steam or turn on a humidifier in your home. This way, the moisture in the air will help loosen the mucus that isn’t draining properly in your nose
- Avoid any harsh or chemical smells like perfume or smoke. This can further irritate your nasal passages and cause your headache to worsen or for your condition to prolong
A migraine is a severe headache disorder that usually causes intense throbbing or pulsing pain.
Migraines and their intensity vary from person to person. Some symptoms of a migraine attack include:
- Pain on one side of their head, but sometimes on both sides
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light and sensitivity to sound
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling tired
- Feeling very warm or cold
- Abdominal pain
If you are looking for some relief before going to a doctor, there are a couple of things you could try:
- Stay away from any harsh or aggressive light. It is essential for people that report experiencing extreme sensitivity to light. We recommend that you sit in a dark, quiet room away from any external stimuli that could aggravate your sensitivity
- Put an icepack on your scalp, forehead, or neck. This can help create a numbing sensation which will hopefully alleviate some of the pain
- Keep hydrated. Some people have reported getting migraines when dehydrated. This can also irritate an already existing migraine. Drinking a lot of water can help prevent migrane
Key differences between Migraines and Sinus Pressure
Many people have a hard time recognizing if the pain they are experiencing is due to a sinus headache or to a migraine. Around 80% of the time where people believe that what they are experiencing is sinus pressure, the actual prognosis is a migraine. While both have common indicators, there are some key differences that can help you distinguish between them.
|Mucus like nasal discharge||✓|
|Sensitivity to light or noise||✓|
|Pain around forehead||✓||✓|
|Pain around one side of the head||✓||✓|
|Pain around eyes||✓||✓|
|Pain around cheeks, nose, ear, and teeth||✓|
|Lack of sense of smell||✓|
When to See a Doctor
For sinus pressure, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor to talk about a treatment plan if symptoms, especially a fever, has been persisting for longer than ten days or it will keep coming back. You can use Tripment Health services to schedule an in-person or telehealth visit with a primary care doctor if you are experiencing sinus pressure without congestion or any other symptoms that might allow them to develop a more targeted treatment.
In some severe or continuing sinus pressure symptoms, doctors will order imaging tests to determine whether or not the cause could be due to serious brain conditions. That is why it is particularly important to determine whether you are experiencing a sinus headache or a migraine. If your symptoms are persistent, it is essential to contact your doctor if you are unsure how to distinguish between the two conditions.
For migraines, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to talk about a treatment plan if symptoms are more severe than regular or they persist. Some severe symptoms include:
- Loss of balance, numbness or tingling, inability to move parts of your body
- Double vision or blurry vision
- Stiff neck or rash
- Pain that wakes you up at night
- Severe nausea and vomiting
- Trouble with speech
In both cases, when these symptoms start to affect your ability to live your day-to-day life, or the discomfort has caused you to wake up in the middle of the night, you must see a doctor so that you can have relief.
Through this article, you can better distinguish between a sinus headache and a migraine. These conditions get mixed up very frequently, so even if you still continue to have difficulty, that is understandable and might indicate seeing a doctor. These symptoms also manifest differences between person to person.
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