Tension Headache vs Sinus Headache: What Are The Differences?

Most people experience tension or sinus headaches once or twice in their life, and while they aren’t pleased, they aren’t that alarmed either. People who experience these headaches more often than not confuse one with the other.

When you start to experience recurrent or constant headaches, you should seek medical attention. Headaches could be a sign you need to take a break, or your headaches are pointing to a more serious implication.

Tension headache vs sinus headache–this article will go over the two common types of headaches and their differences.

What Are Tension Headaches?

Tension headaches are one of the most common types of headaches. Compared to sinus headaches, they are much more common, with about three times as many people experiencing them.

Tension headaches typically last for 30 minutes to a few hours. People describe the feeling of having tension headaches like a tight band around the head.

What Are Sinus Headaches?

Sinus headaches are sometimes confused with tension headaches due to how common both are.

Sinus headaches can last longer than tension headaches. With some instances lasting for multiple days and even weeks.

The location of sinus headaches is also different compared to tension headaches which are often accompanied by other symptoms such as a runny nose, congestion, or fever.

Tension Headache vs Sinus Headache

There are several key differences between tension headaches and sinus headaches. Here are some of them:

Causes and Triggers

With tension headaches, the pain is typically caused by tightness in the muscles of the head, neck, and shoulders. This can be due to stress, poor posture, or even eye strain.

Sinus headaches, on the other hand, are usually caused by inflamed sinuses. This can be due to an infection, allergies, or even a change in weather.


Tension headaches are dull, aching headaches that are often described as feeling like a tight band around the head. There are also some less common symptoms, such as muscle tenderness or neck stiffness.

Sinus headaches are a type of headache caused by inflammation of the sinuses. The inflammation of the sinuses would cause congestion which will create a reduced sense of smell. They are often accompanied by facial pain, runny nose, and fever.


Treatment for tension headaches typically includes over-the-counter pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and heat or ice therapy. Sinus headaches, on the other hand, may require decongestants, antihistamines, or prescription antibiotics if the associated sinusitis is bacterial.

If you’re experiencing chronic headache, be sure to go to your doctor as soon as possible.


The best way to prevent headaches is to avoid the things that trigger them. For tension headaches, these triggers may include stress, fatigue, eyestrain, and poor posture.

For sinus headaches, the triggers may include allergies, colds, and sinus infections. If you can identify your headache triggers, you can take steps to avoid them.

Don’t Ignore Your Headaches

Tension headache vs sinus headache–these are the two most common types of headaches. Tension headaches are often caused by stress or muscle tension. This headache feels like a tight band around your head. On the other hand, sinus headaches are usually the result of an infection, and the pain is located on your forehead.

If you’re not sure which type of headache you have, it’s best to see a doctor to get a diagnosis.

Did this article help you differentiate tension from sinus headaches? Keep reading our blog for other helpful topics!

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