What causes headaches?
Headaches caused by underlying sinus disease cause pressure, heaviness or throbbing in your face or head. There are many other causes however. These include muscular tension, migraine, artery or nerve spasms and problems with your neck or jaw. It is often very useful to see an ENT specialist if you suffer with headaches or facial pain, firstly to rule out sinus disease as a cause but also to pinpoint any alternative cause and either start treatment or point you in the direction of another specialist that will be able to help you.
Are there any tests that can help?
Your headache is almost always diagnosed on the basis of the questions your specialist asks you. An examination of the inside of your nose using an instrument called an endoscope can usually identify sinusitis as a cause for your headache. If there is doubt though, a CT scan can provide further information about the health of your sinuses. An MRI scan is very helpful at checking the health of your brain and nerve supply to your face. A plain X-ray can confirm degenerative disease of your spine.
What treatments are available?
Your headache will be managed according to the underlying cause. Sinus disease can be treated with medication or surgery if this fails. Muscular causes, including mid-face tension and myofascial pain, can be managed with painkillers and alternative therapies such as massage or acupuncture. Neck complaints can be helped with physiotherapy. Migraine is usually managed with medication, the choice of which depends on the underlying cause. Neuralgia can sometimes be managed by surgery if medication is not helpful - a neurosurgeon can help in these situations. The most important thing, however, is that a correct diagnosis is quickly made so that the correct treatment can be commenced.
What should you do next?