Dr. Douglas Dedo, MD

ENTs Are Headache Experts

sinus infections

You might think your general practitioner or a neurologist is the best place to go to treat chronic headaches. While they can certainly help,  Ear Nose & Throat (ENT) specialists are experts at treating headaches! The management of ear, nose and throat problems is key to treating headaches.

What do ENTs Treat?

ENTs treat sinus and ear infections, which are the most common causes of headaches.  An accurate diagnosis is key. An ENT can diagnose and prescribe the appropriate treatment.  They determine whether your headache symptoms are actually caused by your sinuses. Sinus pain could be caused by an ear infection, an allergic reaction, or sinus infection (each can cause inflammation and mucus production which can lead to pressure build-up), or something more serious.

Sinuses are air-filled spaces that run between your forehead, cheekbones, and behind the bridge of your nose.  The sinuses drain through channels in the nose. A sinus can become inflamed as the result of a tumor, allergic reaction or an infection.  

A sinus infection (sinusitis) is the inflammation of sinuses.  The location of the headache can depend on the sinus involved or which ear is infected.  The inflammation causes swelling and increased mucus production and the channels can become blocked.  This increased pressure in the sinuses causes pain similar to that of a headache.

A septal deviation can also cause headaches by pressing on a nerve and causing localized headaches.  Most people have some sort of imbalance in the size of their breathing passages. But with a deviated septum, the nasal septum (the bone and cartilage that divide the nasal cavity of the nose in half) is significantly off-center, or crooked, making breathing difficult.

How are these conditions treated by ENTs?

An ENT will prescribe antibiotics to treat an ear infection.  For more severe cases, an ear tube may be inserted in the infected ear which is an outpatient surgical procedure.

ENTs utilize various treatments for sinusitis.  They may prescribe antihistamines if the issue is caused by allergies. Decongestants, pain relievers, or corticosteroids may be prescribed to further decrease the inflammation if pain relievers don’t work. Simple measures such as steam inhalation, dietary changes, drinking more fluids and using a humidifier or salt water nasal spray can also be helpful in treating sinus headaches.

Surgical repair may be necessary to treat a deviated septum. Septoplasty and rhinoplasty are surgical procedures that ENTs may perform.  Septoplasty straightens and repositions the nasal septum to the center of the nose. Rhinoplasty can be performed at the same time if necessary, which involves modifying the bone and cartilage of your nose to change its shape or size or both in order to alleviate sinus pressure.

Balloon Sinuplasty a less invasive alternative to rhinoplasty because it does not involve the cutting/removal of tissue and bone.

Whatever the treatment prescribed, an ENT specialist will monitor your condition looking out for medication side-effects such as high blood pressure which can be caused by decongestants or pain relievers and provide allergy treatment if this is causing the headaches.

When should you see an ENT specialist?  

See a specialist if your headaches:

  • Won’t go away lasting over 72 hours or occurring more than once or twice a week.
  • Keep getting worse.
  • Are so crippling that you can’t get things done, miss a lot of work or school, or have trouble keeping up with your family life.

Looking for an ENT to treat your headaches? The specialists at Gardens Cosmetic Center will help you get to the bottom of your pain. Click here to contact us today!