An Introduction to hayfever and facial pain
Facial pain is not a symptom that many would immediately connect to their seasonal allergies, yet it is often caused by more well-known hayfever symptoms such as, congestion, blocked ears or eye irritation.
Pain or swelling in the face can occur when the immune system identifies pollen as a threat. As a response, it releases excessive amounts of the chemical histamine, which then inflames the ear, nose and throat passages, resulting in feelings of tenderness and swelling around the facial areas.
What are the common causes of facial pain during hayfever?
The primary cause of facial pain in hayfever is usually related to the sinuses. The sinuses are small air filled cavities located behind your cheekbones, and forehead, and thought to be responsible for filtering air in the nasal cavity.
During hayfever, the sinuses may become inflamed or blocked. When this happens, you can experience feelings of pressure and tenderness around the cheeks, eyes and forehead, sometimes leading to facial pain and sinus headaches.
It is not normally a cause for concern but complications can occur during hayfever which can lead to other medical conditions such as sinusitis. If you find that any pain in the facial area is becoming unbearable or more intense then it is important to consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Other causes of facial pain
Facial pain can often be caused by seasonal allergies such as hayfever, but it can also be triggered by more serious health conditions, such as:
- Facial migraines: Characterised by episodes of intense pain that can last for hours at a time, facial migraines occur for similar reasons to normal migraines but they are not as a common. The pain can even be present in the teeth and gums and is usually accompanied by sensitivity to light. Most doctors will treat facial migraines in the same way that they treat regular migraines, by prescribing medications such as sumatriptan
- Dental abscesses: Dental abscesses occur when an abscess forms on the inside of the tooth or gums, and are caused by bacterial infections. They can trigger pain and swelling in the facial area and it is important to get them treated by your dentist as soon as possible
- Shingles: Shingles appears as reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox. The varicella zoster virus can lie dormant inside our body for years but can reawaken due to a number of factors, and any part of the body can be affecting, including the facial area. Shingles normally lasts between 2-4 weeks and it is important to seek medical advice in order to deal with the other symptoms
- Temporomandibular disorder: A disorder that affects the joints in the lower jaw and can trigger discomfort whilst eating, headaches, earache, and a pain that spreads across the cheeks.
It is important to be able to recognise the difference between hayfever induced facial pain and these health complaints so that you can get the treatment that you need.
Facial pain is normally caused by inflamed or blocked sinuses, and there are a wide variety of home treatments that can be used to alleviate any symptoms of tenderness or discomfort.
- Inhale steam: One way of relieving blocked sinuses is to inhale steam. This helps to loosen the mucus, unblocking the sinuses and reducing inflammation in the facial area. You can do this by holding your head over a steamy bowl of water but a more pleasant alternative might be to treat yourself to a long, hot bath or shower. Just be careful not to burn yourself
- Hot face pack: Another tried and tested method for easing painful or congested sinuses might be to press a hot face pack over the affected areas. This remedy works in a similar way to inhaling hot water, in that it reduce the pain and encourage the mucus to drain down the back of your throat, rather than block your nasal passageways and sinus cavities
- Spicy foods: A more unusual but arguably pleasant way of unblocking the sinuses might be to eat more spicy foods. Spicy foods are a natural decongestant, however this option is not recommends for everyone, especially those who already suffer from digestive complaints
- Drink plenty of fluids: It is important to remember to drink plenty of fluids when you are suffering from hayfever. Keeping hydrated can help to thin the excess mucus as well as prevent any further irritation. It is recommended that you drink between 8-10 glasses of water a day, but just remember that fizzy drinks, alcohol, and coffee don’t count!
When treating facial pain in hayfever, it is important to remember what is causing your symptoms. If the sinuses are being blocked due to congestion, then it is important to treat that symptom first as that should reduce any pain you are feeling in the facial area.
- Pollinosan Nasal Spray: Pollinosan Luffa Nasal Spray can be used to reduce the inflammation of the nasal passages, without causing any further irritation or damage to the lining of the nose
- Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets: Pollinosan nasal spray can also be used alongside Pollinosan Hayfever tablets contain seven different types of herbs specifically aimed to target the body’s abnormal reaction to pollen, and unlike most conventional hayfever medicines, Pollinosan is a non-drowsy formula that will not hinder your ability to drive or operate heavy machinery.
There are a number of decongestants available over the counter, but many of these will not be specifically targeted at treating the symptoms of hayfever.
- Anti-histamines: A doctor is more likely to prescribe you anti-histamine to reduce the body’s production of histamine, however, some anti-histamine medications can cause drowsiness and should not be taken if you are intending to drive or operate heavy machinery
- Steroid spray: If your symptoms worsen and you feel you have developed sinusitis or a sinus infection, then it is important to speak to your doctor who might prescribe a steroid spray. Any steroid-based medication that you have been prescribed should be taken exactly as directed over a short period of time. The prolonged use of steroid spray can result in a range of nasty side-effects that include skin irritation and insomnia
- Antibiotics: If your doctor feels that you have contracted an infection, they will most likely prescribe you a course of antibiotics to try and flush the infection out. Antibiotics can stimulate a variety of side-effects, with some patients even building up an immunity to certain types, meaning that you may have to try a few differed variants before finding one that works for you.