Millions of Americans deal with allergies every year. If you are one of them, you are probably familiar with all the common symptoms, including:
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes and throat
- Sinus pain
Some people with allergies also experience frequent headaches. They may assume that their headaches are caused by sinus pressure due to allergies. However, many may be suffering from a different condition altogether: migraines.
Similarities and Differences Between Sinus Headaches and Migraines
Migraines and sinus headaches do have some overlapping symptoms that can cause people to mistake one for the other. They both can cause:
- Pain in sinuses and face
- Stuffy nose
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
These similarities may explain why many people have misdiagnosed themselves with sinus headaches due to allergies when they really have migraines. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that 88% of participants who reported a history of sinus headaches were instead experiencing migraines.
It’s important to have the correct diagnosis for your headaches, as sinus headaches and migraines have different treatment options. In general, a headache is not a common symptom of allergies. Allergies can cause sinus infections, which cause sinus headaches. However, if you have allergies and experience regular headaches, it’s important you pay attention to all your symptoms. If you experience any of the following, you likely are having migraines:
- Nausea and vomiting with your headache
- Strong sensitivity to light and sound
- Experiencing visual auras prior to your headache
Allergies, Inflammation and Migraines
If you notice you get headaches more when you’re having other allergy symptoms it could be that allergies are triggering your migraines.
Allergies cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to migraines. Your body also releases the chemical histamine during an allergic reaction. Some believe histamine can be a migraine trigger, as well.
What to Do if You’re Experiencing Frequent Headaches
- Make an appointment with your doctor if you are having regular headaches or headaches that don’t respond to over-the-counter medication.
- Don’t self-diagnose. It’s important to know what type of headaches you are experiencing before trying to treat them. Medications that could help with sinus headaches could make migraines worse.
- Keep track of when you experience your headaches. If you notice that you experience more headaches during certain times of the year, or when you’re walking through Everhart Park it may be that allergies are a trigger for your migraines.
- If you believe allergies are a migraine trigger, see an allergist. They can prescribe treatment options for your allergies that may also help reduce the frequency of your headaches.
If you have more questions about allergies and headaches or wish to schedule an appointment with an expert, call Pinnacle ENT Associates today.