If you have allergies, you probably experience common allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose. Some people who have allergies also suffer from frequent headaches.
If you are one of those people, you might assume that your headaches are allergy-related and due to sinus pressure. However, many allergy sufferers with regular headaches are experiencing migraines instead of sinus headaches.
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that 88% of participants with a reported history of sinus headaches were actually suffering from migraines. Some of the participants had self-diagnosed as having sinus headaches, while others had been misdiagnosed by a physician.
Sinus Headache vs Migraine
Both migraines and sinus headaches can cause pain over the sinuses and face. Migraines also can cause allergy-like symptoms, such as:
- Stuffy nose
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
Those similarities make it understandable that a person could think their allergies are the cause of their headaches. In actuality, migraines have specific symptoms that set them apart from sinus-related headaches. These include:
- Sensitivity to light and/or sound
- Visual auras (seeing bright spots, lights or colors prior to a migraine)
The Relationship Between Allergies and Migraines
Even though you may mistake your migraines as a symptom of allergies, that does not mean the two are not connected. Allergies cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation can make you more prone to migraines.
There is also some thought that histamine, a chemical released during an allergic reaction, can trigger migraines in certain people.
Can Treating Allergies Help Migraine Symptoms?
While it’s unlikely that treating your allergies would eliminate migraines, it may help reduce some of your symptoms. Try tracking your headaches to see when they occur. If you find that you tend to get more headaches after springtime strolls through Green Mountain Nature Trail, allergies could be playing a part.
If that’s the case, we recommend visiting an allergist. They can perform allergy tests to find your specific triggers and come up with a treatment plan that can help alleviate your allergy symptoms and perhaps reduce the frequency of your headaches.
See a Doctor for Your Headaches
If you are experiencing headaches several times a week, or headaches that are not responding to over-the-counter treatment, make an appointment with your doctor. Self-treating migraine headaches with sinus medication or decongestants can make your symptoms worse. It is important that you have an accurate migraine diagnosis to properly treat your condition and improve your quality of life.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with an allergy expert, call Northern Alabama ENT today.