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What are Secondary Headaches and Sinus Headaches

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There are two distinct designations of headaches: primary headaches and secondary headaches. The way that to treat primary and secondary headaches is often different because of the symptoms that accompany them. That’s why it’s so important to get a proper diagnosis for headaches so that you can relieve it quickly and effectively.

Defining Secondary Headaches

Secondary headaches are a designation of headaches that are caused by a separate underlying condition. Unlike migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches, which are all primary headaches, secondary headaches are only present because of another medical condition in the body.

Secondary headaches are directly connected to another disorder, and they typically resolve themselves upon successful treatment of that other disorder. However, the way that some types of secondary headaches and primary headaches feel can be very similar, so they are often mistaken for one another.

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Why Sinus Headaches Are Secondary Headaches

One type of secondary headache is a sinus headache. Sinus headaches are considered to be secondary because their symptoms do not occur alone and are typically accompanied by discolored mucus, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, runny nose, sneezing, and fatigue.

A common way that these headaches occur is by accompanying a bacterial infection in the upper respiratory tract, which spreads to the lining of sinus cavities and causes it to become inflamed. This causes intense pain and pressure around the nose, cheeks, and forehead.

Medically referred to as rhinosinusitis, true sinus headaches are rare and a secondary condition following a bacterial or viral infection. A sinus headache should resolve itself once the sinus infection that caused it goes away. However, a sinus headache may persist for several days after successful treatment and remission of the other symptoms.

Other Types of Secondary Headaches

However, sinus headaches are just one of many types of secondary headaches that cause suffering. These are some other secondary headaches that are caused by other conditions.

  • Medication overuse headache
  • Post-trauma headache after an injury
  • Aneurysm or brain tumor headache
  • Alcohol hangover headache
  • Dental pain from a tooth issue
  • Stroke and blood vessel disorders
  • Cranial or cervical vascular disorder
  • Meningitis
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • Nicotine and smoking

Diagnosing Secondary Headaches for Sinus Headache Relief

There are a number of ways to determine whether a headache is primary or secondary, and that determination has everything to do with an accurate report and monitoring of symptoms. The presence of other symptoms, such as fever or weight loss, could point to a more serious medical condition that has yet to be diagnosed.

A physician may conduct a neurological exam to better understand the cause of the headache and also consider its onset. Take notes when a headaches strike and what their symptoms are in a journal to establish potential patterns over the course of months, periods of remission, and predictable triggers.

How to Treat Sinus Headaches: Understanding Treatment for Secondary Headaches

Treatments for secondary headaches can be similar to those for primary headaches, and fortunately, there are some effective over-the-counter solutions that will alleviate the pain and discomfort they cause. Vanquish temporarily relieves headache pain with aspirin, acetaminophen, and a low dose of caffeine in a fast and effective way.

However, if you suffer from a secondary headache, you will need to address the other symptoms with targeted treatment as well. For example, if you have a sinus headache that is caused by a sinus infection, you may need to also use a nasal spray, antibiotics, or decongestant to rid your body of the infection. By eliminating the infection from your body, you will eventually end the headache and find sinus headache relief. However, over-the-counter headache medicine may help relieve the pain during that healing process, which can take several days to complete.

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