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The Best Sinus Headache Pills

author image Diane Marks
Diane Marks started her writing career in 2010 and has been in health care administration for more than 30 years. She holds a registered nurse license from Citizens General Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Arts in health care education from California University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
The Best Sinus Headache Pills
A woman laying her head on her arm looking and a lot of pills and a glass of water in front of her. Photo Credit: Agnieszka Pastuszak-Maksim/iStock/Getty Images

Sinus headaches are the result of sinus inflammation, according to Penn State University. The American Rhinologic Society states that sinusitis is the most common chronic condition, affecting more than 30 million Americans. Sinus headaches cause a dull, throbbing pain throughout the head and can lead to earaches, tooth pain and eye sensitivity. To alleviate sinus headaches, the first approach is to address the source of the pain. Reducing the inflammation in the sinuses will allow mucus to flow freely and minimize the amount of pressure. Consult with a doctor before using any medication.

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Decongestants are one of the best sinus headache medications, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Decongestants work by reducing the swelling of the sinus cavity by decreasing blood flow, according to This action will restore the ability to breathe through the nostrils and properly drain fluid in the sinus cavity. The two drugs sold over-the-counter are pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine. Both are just as effective at reducing swelling in the sinus cavity but come with some side effects. Decongestants can cause rapid heart rate, sleeplessness and nervousness. The American Rhinologic Society warns that a person with previous heart issues should not take a decongestant. Talk to a doctor before taking a decongestant.

Pain Relievers

Aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen is used to treat pain related to sinus headaches, according to Penn State University. Aspirin and ibuprofen reduce pain and inflammation at the same time, making them a good choice for sinus pain due to inflammation. For people who cannot take aspirin or ibuprofen, such as pregnant women or young children, acetaminophen can be used to alleviate the pain. Many over-the-counter pills combine a pain reliever with a decongestant. Read the labels to avoid an accidental overdose.


Antihistamines are used to treat sinus headaches related to allergies or excessive mucus in the sinus cavity, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The American Academy of Otolaryngology states that antihistamines work by blocking the body’s ability to release histamine, the hormone that causes allergy symptoms. Antihistamines will prevent the sinus cavity from becoming inflamed if related to allergies, and they will reduce the amount of fluid in the sinuses. Older antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, may cause significant drowsiness and should not be used when driving or operating heavy machinery. Newer antihistamines, such as loratadine, do not cause drowsiness in healthy adults.

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