ZocdocAnswersNormal sinus headache or do I really need to see my physician?

Question

Normal sinus headache or do I really need to see my physician?

A couple of weeks ago I had my usual summer cold. Other than lasting a bit longer than usual, nothing was out of the ordinary. Last Tuesday was the first day I felt back to myself. This past Saturday I started having a headache, which I attriubuted to sinuses, only it has persisted until now (Wednesday). The pain seems to run from just above and to the right of my left eye, to the back of my head, almost in a straight line. The severity varies, but when I do anything like bend over, shift in bed, or run around, I get a jolt of pain that sometimes is so severe is causes me to gasp in pain. Otherwise, It varies from barely noticable to quite irritating. Is this likely just sinusitis that I could take some antibiotics for, or do I really need to go in to see my doctor?

Answer

It sounds like your symptoms are quite bothersome--hopefully you will be back to your regular baseline soon and not having to deal with such unpleasant headaches. You are absolutely correct that pain in the area above the eyes that is exacerbated by position (such as bending over) can quite often be associated with acute sinusitis. Given that you just experienced what is likely a viral upper respiratory infection, a secondary sinus infection would not be surprising. And, sinus infections can be very painful, particularly those in the frontal sinuses which are the ones above/behind the eyes. However, given the severity of your symptoms the best thing for you to do is see your physician to discuss further. Your doctor will also want to examine you for signs of anything more concerning. Even if this is "just" a sinus infection, depending upon your other health history and medications, you could be at risk for a more serious infection such as that caused by a fungal organism. In addition, pain behind or around the eye can also be associated with infections in the orbital or pre-orbital space, and these can be quite serious. Such infections may also follow a cold such as the one you describe. Overall, to protect your health the best thing to do is see your physician right away.

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