You may be wondering if a sinus headache is necessarily accompanied by excess mucus from your nose.

Perhaps the absence of mucus has you worrying that your “sinus feeling” headache is actually a brain tumor.

“The presence or absence of mucus is irrelevant with sinus pain and pressure,” says Dr. Stacey Silvers, MD, of Madison ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery in NYC, who is board certified in otolaryngology; one of her specialties is sinus surgery.

Dr. Silvers explains, “Many patients have sinus pressure when it is going to rain or they are at altitude.

“Sinus headaches are not always an infection but a sign of sinus congestion and poor ventilation.

“You will see an increase in mucus with a sinus infection (viral or bacterial), with allergies or cold-like symptoms.

“Not all patients with allergies or cold will have sinus pain or pressure, and not all pain in the cheeks or forehead are sinus symptoms, as migraines can have similar symptoms including occasionally a runny nose.”

The Neti Pot

If you’ve been having headaches but no mucus coming out of your nose, try a neti pot to clear your nasal passages, and see if that doesn’t relieve the headache.


There’s no guarantee that it will, but there’s a chance it will help if the headache is caused by some kind of congestion in your sinuses — even if nothing is dripping out of your nose.

Make sure the water is boiled first, for five minutes, before you use the neti pot.

Another possible cause for the headaches, even if they feel sinus in origin, is tight or tensed up muscles in the neck and along the top of the shoulders.

This muscle tension can be the result of mental stress and anxiety, leading to a tension headache.

A tension headache feels very similar to a sinus related headache.

A headache with mucus coming out of the nose, or obvious congestion in the nose, usually has a benign cause. In very rare cases, a sinus tumor is the cause.

An NYC expert in ear, nose and throat care, Dr. Silvers has been named among America’s Top Physicians and Surgeons in facial plastic surgery and otolaryngology multiple times since 2003.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
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