Sinus Pressure

Sinus pressure occurs when the membranes that line your nasal passages become irritated or inflamed. Mucus may also build up and stop draining, leading to pain and pressure. Causes include colds, allergies and sinus infections. Taking over-the-counter medications and keeping your sinuses moist can help ease discomfort.


Common areas to feel sinus pressure.
Sinus pressure may develop around your eyes or across your cheeks and forehead.

What is sinus pressure?

Sinus pressure occurs when the membranes that line your nasal passages get irritated or swollen due to colds, allergies, sinus infections or other conditions. Mucus can also build up and stop draining properly, leading to pain and pressure.

What does sinus pressure feel like?

Sinus pressure might feel like tightness or achiness in your face — particularly around your eyes, nose, forehead or cheekbones. Sinus pressure can even radiate to other areas, like your scalp, teeth and jaws.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Possible Causes

What is the main cause of sinus pressure?

Many conditions can result in sinus pressure. But one of the main causes is the common cold, a viral infection.

Sinus pressure may also result from:

Care and Treatment

How is sinus pressure treated?

Sinus pressure treatment depends on the associated condition. In many cases, over-the-counter (OTC) medications and facial massage can help relieve your symptoms. However, if you have an infection, you may need antibiotics or other medications that only your provider can prescribe. That’s why it’s important to visit a healthcare provider whenever you feel under the weather.


What can I do at home for sinus pressure relief?

There are many things you can try at home to ease sinus pressure and pain:

Over-the-counter medications

Several different types of OTC medications can help ease uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • Decongestants. These medications help reduce inflammation in your nasal passages. Decongestants come in pill or nasal spray form. Never use oral decongestants for more than one week without consulting a healthcare provider. Only use decongestant nasal sprays for three days. Any longer could result in rebound congestion (rhinitis medicamentosa).
  • Antihistamines. If allergies result in sinus pressure, antihistamines can help. In addition to easing sinus pressure, these medications can treat other allergy symptoms, including watery eyes, sneezing and itchy skin. Your healthcare provider may recommend taking a decongestant and antihistamine together. Antihistamines can make you drowsy, so it’s best to take them at night.
  • Pain relievers. Medications like acetaminophen, naproxen and ibuprofen can help relieve headaches and other sinus pressure-related pain.
  • Steroid nasal sprays. These medications reduce swelling inside your nasal passages, making it easier for you to breathe through your nose. Steroid nasal sprays are available over the counter and by prescription.
  • Menthol treatments. Topical treatments that contain menthol can’t relieve congestion, but they can make you more comfortable. You can apply this treatment to your neck or chest.

Soothe or clear nasal passages

Keeping your nasal passages moist is one of the most effective ways to relieve sinus pressure. To do this, you can try a nasal saline spray or gel.

For nasal irrigation, use a bulb irrigator, a Neti pot or a pre-filled container of saline. Holding your head over a sink, pour the saline solution into one nostril and allow it to drain out of the other. As the solution passes through your sinuses, it washes away irritants and allergens that can cause inflammation. (Note: Be sure to use distilled or sterile water to lower your risk of infection.)

Massage pressure points

There are several pressure points around your face where sinus pressure tends to build up. Massaging these areas can help relieve some of your symptoms. To do this, use your fingers to massage these areas in a circular motion:

  • Above your eyebrows.
  • Your temples.
  • Your forehead.
  • Near your nose, between your cheekbones and jaw.
  • On either side of your nose bridge.
  • In front of your ears, on both sides of your face.


It’s critical that you stay hydrated, especially if you’re congested. Dehydration can make sinus pressure worse. Drink plenty of water to ease your symptoms faster.

Steam inhalation

Breathing in steam can help open your nasal passages and relieve sinus pressure. The simplest way to do this is to take a hot shower or use a humidifier.

You can also boil water, pour it into a bowl and lean over it with your head a few inches above the water’s surface. Cover your head with a towel and breathe deeply through your nose. Be very careful when using this method. Handle the bowl carefully and place it on a stable surface to avoid burning yourself.


Before you go to sleep, prop yourself up on a few pillows. Simply elevating your head can help you breathe more comfortably.

Can I prevent sinus pressure from happening?

You can’t always prevent sinus pressure. But there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk:

  • Avoid people who are sick with infections.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • If you have allergies, manage them with medication.
  • Consider purchasing a humidifier.
  • Steer clear of environmental irritants like cigarette smoke.

When To Call the Doctor

When should I call my healthcare provider?

You should call a healthcare provider if you have:

  • A fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) or higher.
  • Sinus pressure that’s lasted for more than 10 days.
  • Signs of a sinus infection, such as sore throat, discolored postnasal drip or runny nose.
  • Severe pain or headache that doesn’t improve with medication.

Additional Common Questions

Where do you feel sinus pressure?

Sinus pressure can result in general facial discomfort. In particular, you might feel tightness or soreness around your:

  • Eyes.
  • Nose bridge.
  • Cheekbones.
  • Forehead and temples.
  • Scalp.
  • Upper jaw.
  • Teeth.

Can sinus pressure cause dizziness?

In some cases, yes. If pressure starts to build up in your middle ear, then you may experience dizziness or vertigo.

Can sinus pressure cause tooth pain?

Yes. Sinus pressure commonly refers (radiates to) tooth pain, especially around your upper molars.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Sinus pressure can be an annoying and inconvenient symptom of several health conditions. Though it’s usually not serious, it can have a negative impact on your quality of life. There are many things you can do at home to relieve sinus pressure and pain. But if you have a fever or symptoms that last longer than 10 days, schedule a visit with your healthcare provider.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/09/2023.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Appointments 216.444.8500