The sinus headache explained

Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2010 May;10(3):202-9. doi: 10.1007/s11882-010-0095-1.


The concept of a sinus headache is problematic from neurology, allergology, and rhinology perspectives. It may be considered the final neurological diagnosis of exclusion when criteria for other craniofacial pain syndromes are not met. The International Headache Society definition implicates the presence of acute sinusitis, but this requirement is often not met in practice or with a patient's perception of the term. Otorhinolaryngologists have a similar exasperation with this cephalgia but tend to attribute idiopathic, nonallergic rhinopathy as the cause. Allergists often see patients who claim to have a sinus headache but instead have perennial allergic rhinitis or nonallergic rhinitis. A fresh perspective is required to determine the characteristics, differential diagnosis, and veracity of the sinus headache. We recommend using the term with caution only if the clinical picture meets the criteria for acute sinusitis-induced headache.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Facial Neuralgia / diagnosis*
  • Facial Pain / diagnosis*
  • Headache / complications
  • Headache / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Neurology
  • Nose / physiopathology
  • Otolaryngology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / diagnosis*
  • Sinusitis / complications
  • Sinusitis / diagnosis*