Sinusitis may be causing lingering headaches

Pamela Egan Practical Practitioner


By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE



Sinusitis may be causing lingering headaches



Dear Pam,

I’ve had a headache and pain behind my eyes for three weeks. I’m beginning to think I have a brain tumor. Should I have a brain scan.

Without being able to examine you, I can only make an intelligent guess. The most common cause of headache and pain behind the eyes is Sinusitis.

A complete neurological exam would be ordered in your case to rule out more serious disorders.

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the lining of one or more of the sinuses. It often follows a cold or allergies that last longer than two weeks.

The most common symptoms of sinusitis may be headache, facial or tooth pain, congestion or post-nasal drip. Normally mucus can move easily through the sinus openings. When inflamed these narrow openings can become clogged, at which point, air and mucus become trapped in the sinuses.

If the sinuses are unable to drain, bacteria that are normally present in the respiratory tract begin to multiply and can cause a sinus infection.

Sinuses are air-filled bony pockets that are located near the nose, in the face and skull. They strengthen and lighten the facial bones and the lower part of the skull. The sinuses also act as a resonance chamber that affects the sound of your voice. They also help to humidify the air that we breathe through our nose.

Each of the sinus cavities is lined with membranes and is connected to the nose by small openings that allow mucus to flow freely. Frontal sinuses are located in the forehead. Ethmoid sinuses are located on each side of the nose between the eyes.

Turbinates are the bones located on the sidewall of the nose where the sinuses drain. Sphenoid sinuses are deeply located behind the eyes, while Maxillary sinuses are located in the cheek above the teeth and below the eyes.

This article was originally published March 4, 2002 in The St. Tammany News. > Health Articles > Early Detection