Foods that cause sinus headaches

Updated November 21, 2016

A sinus headache is considered a secondary headache. It is the result of an increase in pressure in your sinuses. Sinuses can become blocked (congested) and inflamed. When that happens, it puts pressure on your head and the pressure is what causes the painful headache. Sinus headaches run the gamut from a niggling to pain to such extreme pain that seems unbearable. These headaches can be aggravated by the food that you are eating, according to

What To Avoid

The foods that you need to avoid if you have sinusitis include strong spices, white sugar and flour, fried foods, rice, pies, cakes, starchy foods, meat and meat products, eggs and tomatoes and tomato juice, according to Citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, oranges and orange juice, lime and lemon, may further aggravate your condition. Eat butter, milk products and butter in moderation.

Foods Can Cause Inflammation recommends avoiding aspartame and other synthetic sweeteners. Foods that cause inflammation in the body, including alcohol, caffeine, refined carbohydrates and sugar, should also be avoided. Drink a lot of water. This should help prevent a headache or ease one if you are already in pain.


It could be that you have a food allergy to aspergillus, which is a common mould present in grains. If you eat those grains, it may result in a sinus headache, according to

Even The Smell Might Set You Off

According to, a sensitivity to foods, such as gluten (barley and wheat) and milk can cause a sinus headache. In fact, just the smell of certain things, including food, may irritate your sinuses and cause a sinus headache to erupt.

More Culprits

Additional foods that can trigger headaches include yoghurt, sour cream, red wine, chocolate, vinegar, aged cheese, kidney and liver, which are organ meats, soy sauce and yeast extract, according to These foods contain tyramine, which can have a bearing on the release of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter.

Don't Aggravate the Situation

When your sinuses are infected this causes them to produce too much mucus. The mucus stagnates and pressure mounts. This stymies your ability to breath and obstructs proper drainage. A sinus infection can be caused by a number of factors including allergens such as dust mites and pollen; bacteria; viruses; temperature changes; a change in barometric pressure or a cold. Food may not actually cause a sinus infection, but it can aggravate an infection that is already in the works so it's in your best interest to avoid those items that may contribute to your problem.

Is It Actually a Sinus Headache?

Keep in mind that some people confuse sinus headaches with migraine headaches. If you're not certain what is causing your headache, consult with your doctor and be evaluated further.

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About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.