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Face pain

Sinus Infections

Sinus infections are a common reason for facial pain. They usually follow a cold. Allergic factors that cause swelling may enable these infections. Untreated dental infections may spread to the sinuses.

The most common of these infections is the maxillary sinus infection. Headache that feels also in the cheeks is the main symptom. Bending the head forward may increase the pain, in the same way like tapping the cheekbones. The diagnosis can be confirmed by an x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, by puncturing the sinus or sino-nasal endoscopy by ENT physician.

Often the only treatment needed consists of antibiotics and nasal drops or allergy medications that reduce swelling in the mucous membranes. If the pain is hard or antibiotics have not cured the infection, puncturing the sinus may be necessary.

Over-the-counter nasal drops that reduce swelling may be used as self-treatment. It is advisable to deliver these while lying down. When the drops are in the left nostril, it is advisable to wait for a moment and then go on one’s left side in order for the medication to penetrate the maxillary sinus. After placing the drops in the right nostril, one can then respectively turn on one’s right side.

Nasal drops should not be used long term, because they can cause symptoms of a head cold even without any infection.

It is advisable to keep the air humid in one’s home. Steam inhalation either in a hot shower or from a container of hot water is recommended.

Warm compresses over the maxillary sinuses may help with the pain. One may rinse the nose with warm water in the shower.

Some spices are thought to be beneficial for the mucous membranes—try foods spiced with garlic or cayenne pepper.

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia usually causes a strong one-sided pain in the upper or lower jaw. Older people often experience this problem.

The reason for it is unknown. Touching the area or hard biting may initiate a pain episode. There are regularly no other abnormal findings. However, it is best to have an examination.

Treatment usually consists of medication, electrical pain therapy or acupuncture. Surgery is used not often.

Avoiding facial irritation is advised for patients with trigeminal neuralgia. Keep your face warm in the winter.


Herpes zoster or shingles may also arise in the facial and eye area. The virus itself is in the spinal cord but causes a blistery and painful eczema in the tactile nerve section. The eczema will not migrate over to the other side of the face.

Scarring may be present after the eczema heals. There may be problematic residual pain in the area. In cases where patients are less than 50 years of age or where the eczema was only mildly painful at the start, the risk for residual pain is minor. Patients with fewer than 20 blisters at the onset, run a smaller chance of upsetting residual pain.

Temporal Arteritis

Elderly people often experience a temporal vascular inflammation called temporal arteritis. The symptoms consist of temporal pain, pain while swallowing and biting, miscellaneous general symptoms and vision disturbances.

An examination will reveal hardened temporal arteries that are painful to the touch. Laboratory tests show a raised sedimentation rate. If the diagnosis is uncertain, a biopsy of the temporal artery may be used to verify it.

Treatment should be promptly started especially in cases where there are vision disturbances, so that worsening eyesight would not become permanent. Cortisone treatment will be sufficient under normal circumstances.

Salivary Glands Problems

Pain symptoms may be associated with salivary gland infections. The most common infection is that of swelling of the lower jaw salivary glands caused by mumps. Fever and other general symptoms may be present concurrently. Mumps is most common in children but may infect adults as well if they did not have it in childhood.

Mumps usually heal without medication. Other salivary gland infections require antibiotics. The cause for a salivary gland infection may be an obstructive stone, which will have to be removed.

Anti-inflammatory medication may be used to alleviate the symptoms of mumps. It is advisable to drink plenty of liquids and get a lot of rest.


A strong pain in the maxillary or frontal sinus.
Swelling over the maxillary sinus.

See a Doctor

Headache or facial pain in connection with fever.
Strong one-sided pain in the lower or upper jaw.
Swelling in the jaw, especially if you have had mumps.

Face pain, more information:

Wikipedia article on sinusitis. about sinus infections.
Otolaryngology Houston about anatomy of the paranasal sinuses. slideshow of sinusitis.
WebMD on anatomy and conditions of the sinuses.
Patient UK about trigeminal neuralgia. slideshow of shingles.
Emedicine information about temporal arteritis. article about salivary gland disorders.
Emedicine on persistent idiopathic facial pain. instruction how to use nasal sprays properly. instruction how to use nose drops properly.


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