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Sinus Headaches

marijuana and sinus headaches

Medical Marijuana and Sinus Headaches

Many pain medications aren’t effective in relieving the discomfort from headaches, but when it comes to cannabis, this isn’t the case. People struggling with the most painful headaches are seeing beneficial results after using medical marijuana for sinus headaches.

What Are Sinus Headaches?

Sinus headaches result in a deep, throbbing and dull pain in your face and front of your head. Inflammation of your sinuses and your air-filled cavities surrounding your eyes, nose and cheeks causes them. Leaning over or bending down can typically worsen the pain, as does damp, chilly weather.

You’ll often get a sinus headache when you wake up in the morning, and sometimes they clear up by afternoon. They’re hard to diagnose since the symptoms are similar to those of migraines and tension headaches.

headache vs migraines

You may think headache pain accompanied by a runny or stuffy nose and watery, itchy eyes is a sinus headache, but what sounds like a sinus headache could be a migraine. In fact, WebMD reports four out of five individuals who self-diagnose themselves with a sinus headache are actually suffering from a migraine. This misconception is important to avoid since you can’t treat a sinus headache like a migraine.

Types of Sinus Headaches

You can classify sinus headaches as secondary headaches, which means there’s an underlying issue causing the headache. Unlike primary headaches, such as tension headaches and migraines, the best way to ease the pressure and alleviate the pain of a sinus headache is to treat the underlying problem.

Sinusitis — or sinus inflammation — is one cause of sinus headaches. There are two types of this condition:

  1. Acute Sinusitis: This condition occurs when allergies and colds trigger acute sinusitis, and it may get better on its own. Acute sinusitis lasts less than four weeks.
  2. Chronic Sinusitis: Sinusitis is considered chronic when growths and infections cause it. Chronic sinusitis may last up to eight weeks.

types of sinusitis

Sinus headaches are often confused with other types of headaches even though they’re associated specifically with the congestion, swelling and an infection of your sinus cavities. However, tension headaches and migraines can also have symptoms involving the sinuses, which can be confusing. To relieve sinus headache pain, be sure you get an appropriate diagnosis so you can follow the right treatment method.

History of Sinus Headaches

The history of headaches goes back as far as the Mesopotamian ritual texts from around 4000 years ago. Headaches were not seen as a symptom of different physical ailments back then, but as a spiritual entity. Scholars from various historical eras and cultures have helped us gain a better understanding of the pathophysiology, classification and treatment of headaches.

Even though the Ebers Papyrus from ancient Egyptians were the first recordings of the initial descriptions of neuralgias, headaches and migraines, Hippocrates classified headaches into several types and associated them with genuine physical, pathological conditions. After this, surgical treatments for headaches began to evolve throughout history.

Symptoms of Sinus Headaches

A sinus headache can cause a continuous, deep pain in your forehead, cheekbones and bridge of your nose. Suddenly moving or straining your head can make the pain worse and create other sinus-type symptoms like fever, nasal discharge, facial swelling and sensation of fullness in your ears.

Your physician should be the one to determine if your headache symptoms are associated with a sinus issue. If a sinus blockage is causing your headache, you may also have a fever. To identify sinus blockage, your doctor may order an MRI or CT scan and perform a thorough physical exam.

The following symptoms are typically linked to sinus headaches:

  • Facial tenderness
  • Pain and pressure in a single area of your head or face
  • Pressure behind your eyes
  • Worsened pain in the morning due to collection and drainage of mucus during the night
  • Aggravated pain when bending forward or making sudden head movements
  • A headache that starts soon after or during a bad cold
  • Worsened pain due to sudden temperature changes
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Upper teeth pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Green or yellow nose discharge
  • Pharyngitis or a sore throat with post nasal drip
  • A sense of not feeling good

A sinus headache often feels worse when you also have nasal congestion. The location of your pain depends on which sinus is affected. Potential areas include:

  • Maxillary Sinusitis: The cheek
  • Frontal Sinusitis: The eyebrows and/or forehead
  • Ethmoid Sinusitis: Between the eyes at the top of the nose
  • Sphenoid Sinusitis: The back, top or front of the head

Physical Effects of Sinus Headaches

Although uncommon, you may have complications around your eyes leading to the area that’s becoming inflamed and swollen — this could even affect your vision. For instance, you may experience double or blurry vision, impaired eye movements, swollen eyelids or red eyes.

Although sinus headaches seem harmless enough, they could lead to something worse. Therefore, if you’re experiencing rattling in your chest, discolored nasal discharge, trouble breathing or a persistent high fever, see your doctor so they can determine the cause.

Nerve inflammation and decreased oxygen saturation may also cause headaches. Your doctor could come up with a diagnosis after finding these two causes inside your nasal cavity.

Some people develop obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) due to contributing factors like inferior turbinate hypertrophy and septal deviation. If you can’t breathe properly during the night, it could cause multiple or prolonged decreases in oxygen saturation, leading to a morning headache.

Mental Effects of Sinus Headaches

Having a congested nose lasting for several months will make anyone feel down. But, depression can affect as many as 25 percent of individuals with long-term sinus inflammation or sinusitis that leads to constant sinus headaches. Even what’s considered just a minor nuisance can cause a lot of distress in certain individuals.

Many individuals suffering from sinus inflammation will say it’s not just a minor nuisance. If their sinus headaches are due to chronic sinusitis, they are likely suffering from:

  • Long-term pressure and pain around the forehead, eyes and nose
  • Thick nasal discharge
  • Long-term nasal congestion
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Jaw aching
  • Ear fullness
  • Tiredness
  • Bad breath
  • A sore throat

All these chronic symptoms can either trigger depression or make it worse due to:

  • Having an Extended Duration: The chronic discomfort can take its toll as weeks drag by. If you’re susceptible to depression, all these stressors can make it worse.
  • Being Combined With Allergies: Oftentimes, individuals have allergies along with their sinus inflammation. Studies link depression and allergies together through the release of inflammation-induced components during an allergy attack.
  • Causing Sleeping Problems: People with chronic sinus inflammation also deal with sleep problems and not getting good-quality sleep can affect your mood.

sleep problems

Sinus Headaches Statistics

As we mentioned earlier, scientists and researchers have helped us learn a lot about sinus headaches throughout the years. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology:

  • Headaches affect around 70 to 80 percent of the U.S. population.
  • Around 50 percent of Americans suffer from a minimum of one headache monthly.
  • Around 15 percent of Americans suffer from a minimum of one headache weekly — five percent experience one every day.

Current Treatments Available for Sinus Headaches and Their Side Effects

Treating sinus headaches and the associated pain starts with determining the underlying cause. For instance, antihistamines and nasal decongestants often work better for allergy-related sinus headaches. But, a physician should review these types of treatments since they could aggravate other medical problems like hypertension.

Modern sinus headache treatments include the following four options:

  1. Nasal Steroid Sprays

These sprays can relieve sinus congestion and reduce the swelling in your nose when allergies or infections cause your sinus headaches. Side effects of nasal steroid sprays may include:

  • A stuffy nose
  • A headache
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • A cough
  • Nausea
  • A sore throat
  • Throat and nose irritation or dryness
  • Blood-tinged phlegm or mucus
  1. Antibiotics

Antibiotics can treat bacterial infection-related sinus headaches. Side effects of antibiotics may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Indigestion and bloating
  • Abdominal pain

Medical cannabis can help treat all the above medication-related side effects.

  1. Home Remedies

Irrigating your sinuses and nose, as well as increasing air humidity, can help you relieve a sinus headache. Sterile saline sinus irrigations typically work well.

  1. Surgery

If a chronic sinus disease is causing your sinus headaches, you may need surgery. The surgeon will perform an outpatient procedure where they get rid of the diseased and infected sinus tissue, then restore your sinus drainage back to normal. Side effects of nasal surgery may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Pain
  • Failure to eliminate all initial sinus problems
  • Inability to rid infection
  • Chronic nasal drainage
  • Loss or reduced sense of taste or smell
  • Damage to the base of your skull or eyes

If you’re experiencing symptoms of sinus pain or a sinus headache, it’s crucial to consult with your physician to determine the underlying cause. They may refer you to a neurologist or ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist if your sinus headaches are difficult to treat.

How Marijuana Can Be an Effective Treatment for Sinus Headaches

As time goes on, medical cannabis is starting to become more relevant and is showing positive results in fighting a variety of conditions because of its anti-inflammatory properties and more. For instance, studies recently are showing compounds like cannabichromene, cannabigerol and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) all have powerful anti-bacterial effects.

Because of this, medical weed may be a good therapeutic alternative to other standard treatments for combating infections, particularly those caused by bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

In addition to the sinus variety, several headache types all share one common symptom: pain. Examples include:

Those suffering from a headache can have pain lasting for hours — sometimes even days. As you’ve learned, headaches can also come with other unpleasant symptoms like nausea, vomiting and inflammation.

While individuals have long used marijuana for years to treat their headaches, only recently have researchers and scientist began exploring medical cannabis for sinus headaches and other headache disorders. The studies show a lot of promise in using medical pot to decrease the frequency of headaches, stop them in their tracks and even prevent them entirely.

The University of Colorado’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences published an article in Pharmacotherapy’s May 2016 issue discussing a new study’s results on medical cannabis’s effects for both ingested and inhaled methods for treating headaches. The results concur with other anecdotal evidence.

marijuana sinus help

Volunteers in the study reported having 4.6 headaches a month, down from their average 10.4 a month before the study. This led scientists to believe marijuana for sinus headaches can decrease headache frequency. Additionally, around 40 percent of the study subjects reported a positive effect of weed treatment, with 19.8 percent saying the herb prevented their headaches and 11.6 percent saying it stopped their headaches immediately.

Which Side Effects of Sinus Headaches Can Medical Marijuana Treat?

Marijuana and sinus headaches treatment can address symptoms such as:

It also has anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator effects to open up the airways of individuals with sinus congestion.

Medical marijuana may offer you quick relief for sinus headaches due to its pain-killing properties. And, since the herb is already widely used to manage pain in cancer patients, you can rest assured it should be effective for sinus headaches. Medical weed also helps relieve other types of discomfort and pain sinus infections cause.

Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Sinus Headaches Symptoms and Treatment Side Effects

Knowing cannabis and sinus headaches treatment is useful, you may be wondering which strains are most beneficial for you. It’s a smart idea to consult with a medical cannabis doctor or experienced budtender first to get some recommendations, but you can also experiment on your own to find the strains that work well for your sinus headache symptoms.

To get you started, below is a list of cannabis strains shown to work well for three common sinusitis and sinus headache symptoms.

  1. Anti-Inflammatory Effects

A couple strains with strong anti-inflammatory effects include:

  • Harlequin: This strain keeps you clear-headed, reduces inflammation and reduces pain. Like other sativa strains, it relaxes you without sedating you.
  • Cannatonic: This hybrid strain treats inflammation, pain and is fast-acting. It’s perfect for individuals struggling with chronic conditions. However, you will need to medicate a few times daily since it’s pain-relieving effects don’t last long.
  1. Bronchodilator Effects

These strains can help to open your airways up:

  • Royal Medic: This sativa-dominant hybrid provides a bronchodilation effect along with a pain-relieving effect.
  • Dance World: Another sativa-dominant hybrid, Dance World helps with anxiety, pain and breathing problems while opening up your airways. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-spasm effects.
  1. Painkilling Effects

Good strains to treat your pain include:

  • White Widow: This hybrid strain provides euphoric, pain-relieving and energetic effects. It also fights depression.
  • Sour Diesel: This sativa strain makes you feel uplifted, so it’s beneficial for depression and fights pain related to sinus problems.

Best Methods of Marijuana Ingestion to Treat Side Effects and Symptoms of Sinus Headaches

There are three primary ways to ingest your medical marijuana for sinus headaches treatment:

  • Inhaling: When you smoke medical cannabis, the herb enters your system quicker, allowing you to see if you require more. A vaporizer provides similar benefits and is safer on your lungs than smoking.
  • Ingesting: It may take longer for you to feel the effects after eating medical marijuana edibles, but they also last longer.
  • Topicals: Headaches can strike any time of the day, so you’ll want to have a good supply of cannabis topicals lying around. Apply the topical lotion or balm to your shoulders and neck to relax your blood vessels and tissues and improve your circulation in the area where your headache is occurring. You may even want to massage lotions or balms directly into your scalp to help eliminate your headache.

Becoming a Medical Marijuana Patient for Sinus Headaches

Chronic pain is a qualifying condition for medical cannabis in many states. If you’re suffering from chronic sinus headaches, you should talk with a medical cannabis doctor to see if you could be eligible for medical marijuana.

Search for a medical marijuana dispensary or connect with a doctor today to begin your consultation and obtain your medical marijuana card. The sooner you get your recommendation and card, the sooner you can start feeling relief from your sinus headaches.

 

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Resources:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/features/migraine-or-sinus-headache#1
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26749285
  3. http://www.entnet.org/content/sinusitis
  4. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/np8002673

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