4 Unexpected Causes of Chronic Sinus Pain

Chronic sinus pain can significantly impact your quality of life, affecting your ability to work, sleep, and enjoy daily activities. While common culprits like allergies and infections are well-known triggers, there are several unexpected causes that may be contributing to your discomfort. Understanding these lesser-known factors could be the key to finding relief.

1. Dental Issues

Problems with your teeth and jaws can surprisingly lead to chronic sinus pain. When you have an infection or inflammation in your teeth or gums, the roots of your upper teeth are close to the floor of your sinus cavity. This means that any issues in your mouth can potentially affect your sinuses. Conditions such as tooth abscesses, gum disease, or even dental procedures like root canals can cause referred pain to the sinuses, leading to persistent discomfort. If you're experiencing chronic sinus pain, it might be worth visiting your dentist to rule out any underlying dental issues.

2. Structural Abnormalities

Sometimes, the cause of chronic sinus pain lies within the structure of your nasal passages. Deviated septum, nasal polyps, or narrow sinus openings can all obstruct proper drainage and ventilation, leading to recurrent sinus infections and pain. These structural abnormalities can often go unnoticed until they start causing symptoms. Seeking evaluation from an ENT specialist can help identify these issues and determine the appropriate course of action, which may include medications or surgery to correct the underlying problem.

3. Environmental Irritants

In our modern world filled with pollution, chemicals, and allergens, it's no surprise that environmental factors can contribute to sinus pain. Airborne irritants such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, strong odours, and even certain cleaning products can trigger inflammation in the nasal passages, leading to chronic sinus discomfort. If you're regularly exposed to these irritants, whether at home or in your workplace, it's essential to take steps to minimise your exposure. Using air purifiers, avoiding smoke-filled environments, and wearing a mask in polluted areas can all help reduce the burden on your sinuses.

4. Underlying Medical Conditions

Chronic sinus pain can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying medical condition that extends beyond the sinuses themselves. Conditions such as migraines, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, or even systemic diseases like autoimmune disorders can manifest with sinus-like symptoms. In these cases, treating the root cause of the problem is essential for long-term relief. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help determine if there's an underlying medical condition contributing to your sinus pain and devise an appropriate treatment plan.

Recognising Sinus Pain

Identifying sinus pain involves being aware of specific indicators that commonly accompany this condition. Here are some key signs to look out for:

  • Facial Pressure and Tenderness: Individuals with sinus pain often experience discomfort or tenderness in areas such as the forehead, cheeks, and around the eyes.
  • Worsening with Movement: Sinus pain may intensify when bending forward or lying down, indicating increased pressure within the sinuses.
  • Nasal Congestion: A feeling of blockage or fullness in the nasal passages, making it challenging to breathe through the nose, is a common symptom of sinus pain.
  • Associated Symptoms: Sinus pain is frequently accompanied by symptoms such as headaches, toothaches, postnasal drip, and a diminished sense of smell or taste.

Identifying Chronic Sinus Pain

Distinguishing chronic sinus pain from temporary discomfort involves considering the duration and frequency of symptoms. While acute sinusitis typically lasts for a few weeks and resolves with appropriate treatment, chronic sinus pain persists for an extended period, often lasting for more than 12 weeks despite attempts at management. Additionally, chronic sinus pain may recur frequently, with symptoms reappearing multiple times throughout the year.

If you find yourself experiencing sinus pain consistently over an extended period or if symptoms persist despite treatment, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and management strategies.

Sinus Pain Treatment

Finding relief from chronic sinus pain often demands a multifaceted strategy tailored to your individual circumstances. Here's a closer look at various treatment options based on the underlying causes:


Depending on the nature of your sinus pain, your healthcare provider may prescribe different types of medications:

  • Antibiotics: If your sinus pain stems from a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to target the underlying cause.
  • Nasal Corticosteroids: These medications help reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, alleviating symptoms such as congestion and pressure.
  • Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can provide temporary relief from sinus discomfort.

Allergy Management

If allergies contribute to your sinus pain, these management strategies may be recommended:

  • Allergen Identification: Working with an allergist to identify specific allergens triggering your symptoms is crucial. Common allergens include pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold.
  • Allergy Medications: Antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal corticosteroids can help manage allergic reactions and reduce sinus inflammation.
  • Immunotherapy: In cases of severe allergies, allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots or sublingual tablets) may be recommended to desensitise your immune system to specific allergens over time.

Nasal Irrigation

Nasal irrigation, or nasal saline irrigation, involves rinsing the nasal passages with a saline solution to flush out mucus, allergens, and irritants. This simple yet effective technique can help improve nasal drainage, reduce congestion, and alleviate sinus pressure and pain.


In some instances, surgical intervention may be necessary to address structural issues contributing to chronic sinus pain:

  • Correction of Structural Abnormalities: Surgery may be recommended to repair a deviated septum, remove nasal polyps, or widen the sinus openings to improve drainage.
  • Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS): FESS is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed through the nostrils using an endoscope. It aims to remove blockages, restore normal sinus function, and alleviate chronic sinus pain.

By working closely with your healthcare provider, you can develop a treatment plan that addresses the causes of your chronic sinus pain and provides lasting relief. It's essential to follow your treatment regimen consistently and communicate any concerns or changes in symptoms to your healthcare team for optimal management.

If you've been struggling with chronic sinus pain, seek help from a specialist who can diagnose the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment options tailored to your needs. Remember, understanding the causes of chronic sinus pain is the first step towards finding effective treatment and reclaiming your quality of life.

Take the initiative towards relief by scheduling a consultation with our experienced ENT specialists today.

Share this post

About Us

The Harley Street ENT clinic in London can provide all of the care that you need when you have an ear, nose, throat or balance problem. We ensure that you can get all of the right tests, treatments and advice in one convenient place.