Headache and Cold – Location, Causes and Treatment

Cold is a very common illness experienced by most adults around two to four times on average, in a year. Headache is also experienced at some point during the cold but gets neglected, most of the time. Headache and Cold are mostly caused due to sinusitis but can have other causes as well.

Location of pain

Headache is usually experienced in the Forehead and Behind the Eyes.


There are a number of causes for Headache and Cold to coexist. Some of the most common causes are as follows:

Common Cold and Headache:

During an episode of the cold, the immune system produces inflammatory molecules, called cytokines, to fight against the infection. the cytokines can sometimes cause inflammation which results in Headache during Cold.

Sinus headache:

Inflammation of paranasal sinuses can cause the pressure in the sinuses to increase so much that it causes pain in the cheeks, in the forehead, and behind the eyes. Excessive congestion and failure in drainage of sinuses are major causes of increased pressure.


Most of the time a Migraine is confused with a sinus headache during cold. Sinus problems can irritate the Trigeminal nerve that in return triggers a migraine attack in people who are chronic sinusitis patients.

Viral infections:

Some viral infections can also cause Headache and Cold. These are usually transmitted from an infected person when they cough or sneeze via respiratory droplets to the people around them. Most of these are self-limiting and go away within 5 to 7 days. Some of these viruses are listed under:

  • H influenza.
  • Respiratory syncytial virus.
  • Rhinoviruses
  • Covid-19


  • Runny or congested nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chills
  • Excessive sneezing and cough
  • Sore throat
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle pain

Risk factors

  • Young children and people of old age are more prone to get infected.
  • Immunocompromised individuals.
  • People who are exposed to patients who have a cold.
  • People living in cold climates
  • Smokers


Most of the time Headache and Cold are associated with viral infections and go away within a week. However, if the cold persists you should get a nose or throat swab test to rule out any sort of bacterial infection and ask and integration test for any sort of allergy. Your doctor might suggest getting some blood tests done in case of recurrent episodes.


Headache and cold can be easily managed and usually present with mild symptoms.


  • Wash your hands frequently to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Use a tissue paper or handkerchief to sneeze or cough and discard it after use.
  • Avoid direct contact with an ill person.
  • Use a disinfectant if someone at home is sick.
  • Cover your head to keep warm


  • Over the counter, analgesics can help relieve the pain.
  • Nasal decongestants can be given for a stuffy nose.
  • Antibacterials can be given for bacterial infection.
  • In the case of allergic sinusitis, an anti-allergy can prove helpful.

Home remedies:

  • Stay hydrated.
  • Take steam inhalation for stuffy nose and sinus headache.
  • Herbal teas and soups are very helpful for cold.
  • Meditation is also good for recurrent headaches.
  • Saline water gargles are also good for Sore throat associated with cold.
  • Supplements like Vitamin C, Zinc, and others can also boost immunity.

When to Consult the Doctor?

If your headache does not go away even after taking analgesic or your cold takes longer than 15 days to recover and is associated with fever, you should consult a physician as soon as possible.


What is the most common cause of Headache and Cold?

Sinusitis is the most common cause of headaches associated with cold.

What is the best treatment for headaches in influenza?

An Over-the-counter analgesic is best for pain relief. However, the headache can reoccur but influenza being a viral illness is self-limiting and goes away within a week.

Why is migraine in the common cold often confused with sinus headache?

Due to symptoms of a cold that resemble a sinus infection, the migraine is often misdiagnosed as sinus Headache.

How do Cold causes migraines?

Irritation of the Trigeminal nerve leads to migraines which are a major cause of Headache during Cold.