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Remedies for Sinus Headaches

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a woman with brown hair is experiencing moderate head pain

Sinus headaches are caused by blocked sinuses, giving you pain and pressure around your sinuses, including between your eyes and above your nose. The pain can get worse when you move and the headache usually comes with other symptoms too, such as a stuffy nose or a sore throat. Experiencing a sinus headache can be tough, but there are remedies that can help you to deal with the problem. 

Dealing with the pain you're experiencing is important, but it can also be necessary to consider treatments for the underlying cause of your sinus headaches too. An ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor might prescribe certain medications or suggest treatments that you can try at home.

Over the counter (OTC) painkillers

Taking painkillers might not tackle the cause of your sinus headache, but it will give you temporary pain relief. Over-the-counter painkillers are an easy solution because they are readily available and effective. Medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can give you the pain relief that you need. Make sure to use them according to the label so that you can ensure you're using them safely.


Decongestants help by opening up your blocked sinuses to help relieve congestion. However, it's important to be cautious when using them. If you use nasal decongestants for more than three days in a row, you could actually make your congestion worse. Oral decongestants should only be taken for a maximum of seven days. 

Decongestants are also available over the counter, so you don't need a prescription. If you're also taking painkillers, check the ingredients on the decongestants. Many decongestants also contain painkillers, so you need to be careful not to take too much by doubling up on medication.

Nasal steroid sprays

A nasal steroid spray is a treatment that your doctor might prescribe to you for particularly bad cases of blocked sinuses and sinus headaches. They are stronger medications that can help to reduce congestion and pain.


Sometimes congestion can be caused by allergies, from seasonal allergies to environmental allergies. When this is the case, your doctor might recommend antihistamines, which can help with your sinus problems by treating the allergies.

Solutions for dry air

Dry air can irritate your sinuses, so ensuring it isn't too dry can be helpful. You can use a humidifier or vaporizer to increase the humidity in your home. Other ways to benefit from using water include soaking a towel in warm water and holding it over your face for a few minutes. You can also use a saline solution nasal spray for the same purpose.

Salt water

Salt water can be used to flush out your sinuses and help to relieve sinus headaches. You can use a bulb syringe or a neti pot to carefully flush out your sinuses with salt water. It works by moistening and clearing out mucus, which should help to relieve the pressure and your headache. You should use distilled, sterile or boiled and then cooled water and make sure to wash out your neti pot or syringe after each use. A saline nasal spray does a similar job.

Avoid making symptoms worse

Various things can irritate your nasal passages, such as perfumes and cigarette smoke. Avoid the things that could make your symptoms worse if you want to deal with your sinus headache more quickly.

What to do when home remedies aren't working

When you have a sinus headache, trying some treatments at home should be your first step. However, if you've tried a few things and nothing is helping, seeing a doctor can help you to get the right treatment and perhaps identify an underlying cause. You should also see a doctor if you have a fever, if there is pain or swelling of your face or eyes, redness around your eyes, cheeks, a severe headache, stiff neck or confusion.

After other treatments have been exhausted and your sinus problems are recurring, surgery might be suggested as an option for sinus headaches and blocked sinuses. This is something that you might discuss with your ENT to determine whether it's the right choice for you and how it can help, as well as some of the risks that surgery can have. Before discussing surgery, it's important to try other remedies to find out if any of them work.

If sinus headaches are a regular problem for you, Mountain Ear, Nose & Throat Associates can help. Contact us today at Sylva 828-586-7474, Franklin 828-524-5599, Murphy 828-835-1014 or New Asheville 828-458-8100 to schedule an appointment or learn more.