Nothing is more frustrating than trying to focus on your day, than the pressure and pain caused by a sinus headache. This type of headache is a result of pressure and pain building up in the sinuses, causing pressure in the face and around the eyes. Until this pain and pressure is relieved, it can be difficult for you to focus, breath, or sleep. But there are a number of things a person can do to help reduce the amount of pain a pressure, relieving the sinus headache.
Like most health related issues, prevention is the best way to avoid the discomfort of a sinus headache. There are a number of ways that this can be done. If you are known for having sinus problems and allergies, you can consult with your doctor about using daily medications to help prevent sinus related problems from occurring. Another thing to keep in mind is the need to wash your hands frequently, cover you face when you cough and sneeze, and try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth during the day. Eating a diet high in nutrients, like vitamin c can also help to prevent sinus problems from occurring, and help your body to fight off any potential problems.
Over the Counter Antihistamines
One of the most common medications used for sinus trouble is antihistamines. Some, like benadryl or chlorpheniramine last for 4 to 6 hours. They have been proven to be effective, but often cause drowsiness. Others like claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec are also available over the counter, but they are taken once daily. If you have an acute sinus problem, it is best to take a shorter lasting medication, as the others can take longer to see the effects. Most single ingredient antihistamines are safe to take with other medications but a quick call to the doctor’s nurse line, or asking the pharmacist will help you make sure you do not have any interactions. Just make sure when taking antihistamines you are drinking lots of fluids to help your body flush out the toxins in your body.
Over the Counter Decongestants
If pressure buildup is causing pain, a decongestant can help to relieve the pressure. However, there are many medications, like blood pressure medications, that cannot be take with decongestants, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking them. Options include short acting decongestants which last 4 to 6 hours, or longer acting ones that can last 12 or some even 24 hours. The only problem with these is they may also cause sleep interruption, so whenever possible, take them early in the day, and avoid them at night. Again, make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids to make sure you are able to flush out toxins and do not become dehydrated.
Over the Counter Nasal Sprays
You might be tempted to reach for a nasal spray if you are congested, but make sure you know what you are grabbing. Sprays like Afrin work quickly to help you breath and relieve pressure, but they can become habit forming and are best to only be used for a couple of days. Other nasal sprays are steroids to help reduce inflammation in the sinuses. In order for them to be most effective though, they need to be used regularly over several days, and are better for use to prevent sinus problems from recurring. If you are prone to sinus problems, these types of nasal sprays may be ideal for you to take daily to prevent future problems, but checking with your doctor first to make sure they can benefit you is ideal.
One of the best things for you when dealing with a sinus headache is to use warm water to soothe your sinuses. Soaking in a warm bath or taking a warm shower will allow the steam to break up the mucus in your sinuses and allow you to breath. It can also help to sooth painful sinus passages bringing you some immediate relief. This is especially helpful when you are getting ready to go to bed for the night, to help you relax and being able to breath while you fall asleep. If the sinus headache hits while you are at work, grab a cup of hot water or tea and slowly breath in the steam. While you drink it, you will also soothe your throat from any post nasal drip you might be experiencing. If the tea has honey or lemon in it, you are also giving yourself an added immunity boost from the vitamin c and natural healing properties in the honey.
Use a Humidifier
If you have a private office, consider placing a humidifier in the corner and close the door. The moisture in the air can help to soothe your sinuses, relieve the pressure and pain. If not, they do make personal sized humidifiers and vaporizers that you can use, but may not be ideal for your particular work space to use. In your home, the use of a humidified can also help to relieve sinus problems. It can be used throughout the day and night while you are home, or you can choose to use it only in your bedroom at night to help you sleep better. Either way, the purpose is to help give more moisture to your sinuses allowing you to breath better. The added moisture in the air is even more important when you are running a furnace that forces dry air throughout your home.
Similar to using steam to help relieve the pressure from the sinuses, a sinus wash can help you to find relief. However, the sinus wash also helps to flush out the built up mucus and debris you breath in through the air. An added benefit of using a sinus rinse is that it can be used only when you need it, daily as a preventative, or every few of hours when you are fighting off a head cold. Because it is simply saline, it is not habit forming, nor does it interact with other medications. One idea is to use the wash in the shower so it is easier to clean up afterwards and you do not have to worry about the rinse coming out on the counter top. Just make sure to use it a while before you use any nasal spray and at least thirty minutes after a nasal spray so the medication in the nasal spray has time to work effectively.
Tylenol is one of the easiest and safest medications you can take to treat the pain from a sinus headache; however, be careful when taking tylenol to make sure it is not already in any cold medication you are already taking. Too much tylenol can cause other serious health complications which can easily be avoided by be careful of knowing what the ingredients are in your medications. Another great pain reliever for a sinus headache is Motrin or Advil. The use of these ibuprofen containing medications not only helps to relieve the pain, but if the sinus headache is a result of the inflammation of the sinuses, unlike tylenol, ibuprofen also helps to reduce inflammation.
Beware of Multi-symptom Over the Counter Medications
If you do not want to take multiple medications, there are a number of sinus and allergy medications that come combined with tylenol or advil, but make sure to check to see you are not taking any more medication than you need and the ingredients are intended to treat the symptoms you have specifically. Also check to make sure all of the ingredients are safe to take with your current medications. Do not assume because it contains tylenol and it is safe for you that the other ingredients are also safe for you to take. Even one ingredient can interact negatively with medications, especially blood pressure medications and cause other problems.
This has already been said more than once, but it is probably the most important thing anyone can do. Drink lots of fluids, and avoid caffeine as much as possible. Whether you choose to drink water, green or herbal tea, or drink broth, these fluids will help you to flush out toxins in your body. In addition, the excess of mucus in your body needs the fluid to help thin it out so it can also leave your body. Once you become dehydrated, it will be even harder for your body to fight off a sinus headache, or a potential sinus infection. The sinus cavity needs to be moist in order to fight inflammation, and prevent congestion. If you are not taking in enough fluids, your body is not able to do this simple process, and you can suffer from a sinus headache or worse a sinus infection.
Like all illnesses, it is important to rest. While a sinus headache may not result in you needing to take a nap, it will make it more difficult to breath. As a result, it is not the right time to be exercising and exerting more energy than you need to. Instead, take some time to relax. Curl up with a good book or watch a show on tv. If you feel like it, take a light walk, but leave the aerobics class for when you are feeling better. And most importantly, make sure you go to bed a little early at night to get a full night’s sleep, so your body is able to heal, rid itself of toxins, and fight of any potential infections.