Severe Sinus Pain and Relief

Saima Andrabi   by Saima Andrabi, MS, Clinical Biochemistry    Last updated on December 6, 2019,

Sinuses are air-filled spaces present in our forehead, cheekbones, and bridge of the nose. Due to an allergic reaction or an infection, these sinuses become inflamed and produce more mucus than normal. As a result, the mucus draining channels present in our sinuses get blocked and the sinuses become filled with infectious fluid. Such an infectious fluid creates a pressure in sinuses resulting in severe pain called sinus pain. This sinus pain usually feels like a headache.

Sinus pain often results in a deep and constant pain in our forehead, cheekbones, and the bridge of our nose. This pain is often associated with some sinus symptoms like swelling of face, fever, runny nose, and a feeling of fullness in our ears. The pain mostly gets stronger when we move our head suddenly.

Sometimes other types of recurring headaches like tension headaches or migraines are mistaken for sinus headaches. Therefore it is very important to find out if your symptoms are caused by your sinuses or there is any other cause.

What is a Sinus Headache/ Sinus Pain and How Does it Occur?

The term sinusitis often describes the inflammation of the sinuses. Sometimes the linings of the ducts or tubes that connect the sinuses to the back of the nose become inflamed and therefore fail to drain the fluid. The buildup of this infectious fluid in the sinuses creates pressure within theses blocked sinuses. As a result, the inflamed sinuses fail to drain this fluid and create pressure within the sinus cavity, which ultimately results in a sinus pain or sinus headache. Sinus inflammation or sinusitis may be caused either by a viral infection or it may have some other causes like an allergic reaction (hay fever) etc.

Infectious and stagnant fluid present in sinusitis often attract bacteria and viruses from nasal cavities which further increase an infection. Most sinus infections are caused by viruses. Bacterial infections typically occur after the initial period of inflammation from a viral infection or other significant sinus blockage. Rarely some fungal infections may cause sinus infections, and even more rarely, tumors can invade the sinuses. Sinus infection is almost always associated with nasal inflammation and that is why the illness is now called “rhinosinusitis.”

Swelling and inflammation of sinuses often create pressure on nerve endings around your sinuses. This leads to a dull or throbbing pain and aches. There are different types of sinuses and each of them is associated with different sinus pain symptoms:

Frontal Sinuses

Frontal sinuses cause pain in forehead.

Ethmoid Sinuses

Ethmoid sinuses cause pain between the eyes and across the nose.

Maxillary Sinuses

Maxillary sinuses cause pain in the upper jaw or teeth, and cheeks.


Sphenoid sinuses cause pain on the top of the scalp or along the back of the head, and behind the eyes.

How can we Relieve our Sinus Pressure and Pain?

There are different ways by which we can get relief from our sinus pain. Below mentioned few tips can help you in relieving your sinus pain. Further, you should always talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding these tips.

Chill out Your Sinuses

Anything you can do to cool your head can help in relieving your sinus pain symptoms. For example, an ice mask, cold compress or bag of ice can help.

Massage and Relax

Sinus symptoms often get worse when you are stressed. Gentle massaging of your neck and shoulders (not linked to your sinuses) can help you in relaxing and also gives you relief.

Besides the above-mentioned tips, few other measures that can help in managing sinus pain are:

  • Drink plenty of fluids as they can help in thinning the mucus buildup in the sinuses
  • Use a warm, moist washcloth to cover your face several times in a day
  • Use a steam inhalator almost 2 to 4 times in a day
  • Use a humidifier to keep the air moist and avoid dry places
  • Use a saline spray several times a day. This can help in removing the thick mucus buildup and also in sinus drainage.
  • Avoid things that can irritate your nose like smoke, dust, smell, etc.
  • Inhale steam 2 to 4 times in a day

Several medicines like acetaminophen or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help in relieving sinus pain and headache.

Pain relievers and decongestants help in getting relief from a blocked nose and are available in different forms like nasal drops, nasal sprays, tablets and powders that can be made into hot drinks.

Over-the-counter nasal spray decongestants should be used with care as they may be harmful if used for more than three to five days. Some products combine analgesics with decongestants and therefore help in relieving sinus pain on both fronts.

Throbbing head and pressure around the eyes, cheeks, or forehead may be because of a sinus headache. Many factors are responsible for causing sinus headache. One of the most important factors is swelling of the lining of the nose and sinuses, which ultimately result in sinus pain and also create a pressure in the face and head.

Sinus pain is found mostly around eyes, forehead, or over the teeth. The pain gets worse in the morning and also when you bend over. Different natural treatments can be help in relieving sinus pain, some of them are mentioned below:


Sinusitis is often associated with dry mucus formation in the nose and sinus passages. Dry mucus can form crusts in your nose that can block sinus drainage and trap viruses and other particles within the mucus. Drinking plenty of fluids and increasing humidity can help in thinning the mucus buildup and therefore relieve sinus pain.

Sinus Irrigation

Sinus irrigation can be very useful in relieving sinus pain and sinus pressure. Saltwater irrigation is the best way for cleaning the sinuses and also helps in relieving the sinus pain.

Alternate Hot and Cold Compresses

Alternate use of hot and cold compressions can help in getting rid of sinus pain and sinus pressure. Reclining with a hot washcloth over your eyes and nose is useful in warming the loosen secretions. Alternate warm and cold compresses can also be used for relieving the sinus pain and sinus pressure. This can be done by placing a hot towel or washcloth across your sinuses for about 3 minutes followed by a cold compress across your sinuses for almost thirty seconds. The same procedure should be repeated almost four times a day.

Eating Spicy Food

Eating spicy food can ease your sinus pain and the associated pressure. Most people believe that having spicy foods like spicy peppers can help in getting relief from sinus. People also believe that spicy foods like peppers or hot mustard can aid in opening up the nasal passages besides providing some relief from sinus pain. Capsaicin, an active ingredient found in chili peppers has been found to be very effective in relieving some types of sinus pain.


Yoga can be useful in draining mucus from sinus passageways. If you are having a sinus infection, a supported yoga pose where your head is elevated can make you feel better without putting excess pressure on your sinuses.


Using supplements like the enzyme bromelain is helpful in relieving sinus pain. Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found in the pineapple plant and it is sold in the market as a dietary supplement. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) suggests that bromelain is available as a powder, cream, tablet, or capsule, and sometimes in combination with other ingredients.

Saima Andrabi

Saima Andrabi is a clinical biochemist and is passionate about driving knowledge platforms for creating health awareness in the general public. She pursued her master’s degree in clinical biochemistry from University of Kashmir, Srinagar followed by an internship from National Institute of pathology, New Delhi. Her areas of interest include molecular biology, immunology, medical physiology and forensic medicine. Saima is very much interested in writing medical content and wants to create awareness in public through this platform.


Currently, Saima Andrabi is working at Maxinov Solutions Private LTD as a research associate and is associated with DiseaseFix as a medical content writer.

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