A Common Cold With a Severe Headache

The common cold is the result of a virus that attacks the body. The three most common symptoms of a cold are nasal congestion, runny nose and sneezing, says MedlinePlus. It is usually accompanied by a fever less than 102 degrees F, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Sometimes a common cold is accompanied by severe headache, making the sufferer even more uncomfortable.

Severe headaches from the common cold are the result of sinus inflammation.


The sinus cavities becomes inflamed during a bout with the common cold, causing them to swell and create pressure throughout the head. The resulting sinus headaches may be felt in the forehead, behind the eyes and cheeks. A sinus infection can develop as a result and should be assessed by a medical doctor for diagnosis and treatment.


A severe headache from a cold is a dull, throbbing pain deep within the head, according to the University of Maryland's Medical Center. Someone with a severe headache from a cold will experience pressure throughout the face that is sensitive to touch. The pain may increase with sudden movements or standing up quickly. The pain is typically worse in the morning upon awakening and improves throughout the day. Temperature changes can cause the pain to worsen.

Home Remedies

MayoClinic.com states that certain home remedies can help reduce symptoms of the common cold, such as getting plenty of rest, drinking liquids and running a humidifier. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, saline spray can help loosen mucus in the nose and promote proper drainage which can help reduce the inflammation and sinus pressure causing the pain. Inhaling steam two to four times a day by standing in a hot shower or placing the head over a boiling pot of water can help soothe the sinuses as well.

Medical Treatments

According to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, the common medications prescribed by a doctor to treat a severe headache resulting from the common cold are pain relievers and decongestants. If the severe headache is the result of a sinus infection that has arisen from a common cold, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Pain relievers alleviate the pain caused by the sinus pressure and decongestants work by reducing inflammation in the sinuses. A pediatrician should be consulted before giving any medication to children.


A headache that becomes more severe over a 24 hour period should be assessed by a doctor. Medical attention is required if someone experiences confusion, physical instability, memory loss, numbness or a change in vision or speech, accompanied by a severe headache. If the headache is felt in the eye, it may be a sign of an eye infection.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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