Is It Possible to Get Sinus Pressure without Congestion?
There are many causes of headaches and sinus pressure. Many patients believe if they do not have “typical” sinus symptoms (such as nasal congestion, drainage, or postnasal drip) that it can’t be sinus-related. Not only is this not the case, but it also prevents patients from seeking the care they need.
What Else Can Cause Sinus Pressure?
Some patients may be suffering from migraine headaches or other headache syndromes. Migraines will almost always present with sensitivity to light or sound. To complicate things further, patients may be suffering from both sinus head aches and migraines simultaneously.
The overlap in symptoms and the myriad of treatments available can be very confusing for patients, leaving them lost and uncertain regarding which treatment or what type of doctor they need to see. If you are experiencing sinus symptoms without other sinus symptoms, this is what you need to do.
Before we can dive into the main question of “Can You Get Sinus Pressure without Congestion?”, we first must review what sinus pressure is.
As depicted below, the sinuses are located in the cheeks, between and behind the eyes, and up into the forehead.
If you are experiencing pressure in any of these regions, there is likely a sinus component, especially if the symptoms worsen with certain irritants such as weather changes or allergy exposure. Headaches in the temples or the back of the head are typically not sinus-related.
What Causes Sinus Headaches' Pressure?
A sinus headache is caused by a buildup of pressure in the sinus cavities. In many ways, it is similar to the ear pressure most patients will develop when they fly or change elevations. The ear is essentially a specialized sinus cavity as it is also a hollow cavity that drains into the nasal region. The difference is ear pressure is easily addressed by “popping the ears” via swallowing or a Valsalva maneuver; but unfortunately, sinus pressure cannot be relieved that way.
Sinus pressure occurs for one of two reasons:
1. Your sinus passages are narrow or blocked – preventing the normal aeration of the sinus cavity, leading to a buildup of negative pressure and pain
2. Mucus is blocking your sinuses resulting in the same symptoms
Do I Have Sinus Pressure?
The following list can be very helpful in determining if your symptoms are sinus related:
· You suffer from allergies and have had recent or recurrent sinus infections
· You are experiencing throbbing pain in the cheeks, around the eyes, behind the eyes, forehead, nose, or ears.
· You experience thick mucus drainage
· Your pain is worse with weather or temperature changes
· Your pain is worse when exposed to certain perfumes, scented candles, or dust/mold exposure
· Your symptoms are potentially worse in the morning(typically sinus related pressure is worse in the morning)
Do I have a Migraine?
The following list can be very helpful in determining if your symptoms are migraine-related:
· Your pain is associated with nausea, vomiting, difficulty speaking, numbness or tingling, or sensitivity to light and/or sound
· You have a family history of a migraine
· Your symptoms are one-sided (typically sinus pressure affects both sides of the face)
What Can I Do to Relieve My Facial Pressure?
The first step is to make an appointment to see us at Capo Nose and Sinus Center.
As a sinus expert, Joseph A. Capo, MD is well versed in determining whether patients are suffering from true sinus pressure or migraine. A typical evaluation will involve a detailed history of your symptoms as well as a miniCT scan which can be done right in the office on the same day. CT is important to evaluate the sinus cavities to identify abnormalities that may be contributing to your symptoms.
Ultimately, treatments for sinus pressure and migraines differ. If you are in fact suffering from sinus pressure, we can offer many different remedies to help including nasal sprays, allergy treatment, decongestants, and balloon sinuplasty.
Recap: Can You Get Sinus Pressure without Congestion?
Yes! But most patients will have some other nasal or sinus symptoms. It is important to determine the root cause of your pressure because if a sinus patient seeks migraine remedies or vice versa, their symptoms will not improve and can even become worse.
We will lead you in the right direction and are here for all of your nasal and sinus care! If you have any more questions, please feel free to reach out to us to schedule an appointment.