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Facial Pain & Headaches

Facial Pain & Headaches

Headaches and facial pain sometimes occur at the same time, although there are many possible reasons for this. In some instances, sinus problems may be contributing to the facial pain that's sometimes associated with headaches. Other times, nasal polyps, a severe ear infection, or a tense jaw muscle may be the actual cause of facial pain and headaches. Here's a closer look at possible connections between pain felt in different parts of the face and headaches.

Sinus Infections (Sinusitis)

Inherited immune system disorders and hay fever (allergic rhinitis) are among the possible causes of sinus infections that may be contributing to facial pain and headaches. An infection and inflammation of the nasal passages is another common reason people have sinus headaches. The resulting facial pain is usually felt as pressure in the forehead or behind the cheekbones.

Deviated Septum

It's estimated that about 80 percent of all septums are deviated to some extent. A deviated septum may be congenital or it can develop as a result of an injury. Headaches may be experienced if the abnormal septum leads to severe pressure on the side wall of the nose.

TMJ Disorders

Connecting the jawbone to the skull, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a sliding-hinge joint located on both side of the jaw. A TMJ disorder sometimes tenses jaw muscles enough to cause aching facial pain. Overworked muscles of the jaw or involuntary jaw clenching or grinding teeth sometimes play a role in the severity of migraine headaches. It's not always easy to form a connection between headaches and a TMJ disorder. However, if it's a TMJ problem that's contributing to headaches, patients often notice fewer headaches within a few months after treatment.

Salivary Gland Infections

Bacterial or viral infections can affect the salivary glands located between the ear and the jaw. Resulting from reduced saliva production, a salivary gland infection may cause painful swelling in the face and neck. Viral infections affecting salivary glands may also cause fever and headaches.

Hypoparathyroidism

Decreased activity of the parathyroid hormone (PTH) results in a condition known as hypoparathyroidism. Muscles in the face are sometimes affected enough to produce noticeable pain. The condition sometimes causes general weakness and fatigue and headaches.

An evaluation by an ear, nose, and throat doctor is recommended if you are experiencing facial pain and headaches. During an examination, an ENT specialist will look for evidence of chronic infections that may be related to issues affecting one or both ears, glands in the ears or throat, or the sinus cavities. Tests performed may include a sinus CT scan to confirm or rule out sinus problems. If there is an underlying problem that's discovered, treating that issue often helps reduce facial pain and headaches.