Differences Between Sinus Pressure and Congestion

iStock-832125434_small.jpgYou’re probably aware that congestion is a frequent cause of sinus pressure. But is it possible to have sinus pressure without congestion? Yes, although for very different and sometimes complex reasons. It’s also not always easy to identify the difference without medical assistance.

How to identify Sinus Congestion

Sinus pressure from congestion is caused by a buildup of mucus in the sinus cavities. This could be brought on by any of the following:

  • Allergies
  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Irritants

The key to knowing whether or not it’s congestion is always whether there is mucus involved. If there isn’t, then the culprit is likely a migraine. Also, if the pain is localized to only one side of your head, that is indicative of a migraine as well.

Why people confuse sinus pressure for a migraine

Migraine pain patterns can differ from patient to patient, so it’s not always easy to identify them. Sinus pressure can be part of migraines because of the nerves associated with the brain. This makes it easy to confuse sinus pressure with congestion due to the overall discomfort. What you won’t experience with a migraine though is fever, swollen lymph nodes, or persistent yellow or green nasal discharge. Nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity are all symptoms of migraines that you wouldn’t experience with a sinus infection.

Why it’s best to seek a professional diagnosis

While there are many over-the-counter medication options for sinus pressure caused by both migraines and sinus congestion, using the wrong treatment can sometimes make the actual cause worse. In the case of a bacterial infection, the wrong treatment could actually prolong the infection. An accurate diagnosis is crucial to effectively treat the root cause of your pain and speed up relief. After all, no one wants to suffer from sinus pain!