Can Allergies Cause A Sinus Headache
Headache is not a very common symptom, in and of itself, of seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis, says Katherine Hamilton, MD, an assistant professor of clinical neurology and a headache specialist at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia.
With allergies, its much more common to have symptoms such as nasal congestion, like a stuffy nose or runny nose, and eye-watering, she says.
But allergies, or allergic rhinitis, can increase your risk of a sinus infection, according to the CDC. One indication of whether you have allergies or sinusitis is your nasal discharge: In allergies its normally thin and clear, whereas in a sinus infection the mucus is yellow or green and thick, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If you do have a headache that persists, it may not be just allergies, but rather an indication that you have migraine, says Dr. Hamilton.
Typically, headache can be due to a sinus infection or viral or bacterial infection, but it’s rare to have a significant headache from just allergy symptoms, she says.
How Do I Know If My Headache Is From My Sinuses
A sinus headache is typically felt in the cheekbones, forehead, and behind the bridge of the nose. The pain is usually constant and throbbing. Typically a sinus headache worsens when you move your head or bend over. The pain may also intensify when you lie down. Sinus headaches may be worse in the morning and improve during the day as mucus drains. Some individuals are also more likely to experience sinus headaches in colder, rainy weather.
A sinus headache is usually caused by a viral infection and may be accompanied by other symptoms including a sore throat, cough, fatigue, and a nasal discharge. A feeling of fullness in the ears and facial swelling may also occur. Sometimes, the sinuses will be tender when you press on themlike on the forehead or cheeks. If the sinus headache is caused by a bacterial infection, a high fever or tooth pain may also be present.
How Are Sinus Headaches Diagnosed
Most of the time when people diagnose themselves with a sinus headache, its really a migraine. So, its important to see your healthcare provider to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms. If your symptoms are severe or ongoing, you may also need imaging tests. A magnetic resonance imaging test can rule out serious brain conditions. Multiple imaging tests can reveal sinus blockages and include:
- Computed tomography scan.
- Nasal endoscopy .
Read Also: So I Have A Sinus Infection
Can Sinus Headaches Be Prevented
Sinus headaches are due to inflammation of the sinuses and their ability to drain to the back of the nose.
- Avoid smoking, secondhand smoke, and other allergens because they may decrease the risk of developing sinusitis and a sinus headache. Smoking reduces the ability of the sinuses to clear mucous and fluid.
- Avoid colds and other respiratory infections because it may decrease the risk of sinus inflammation, for example, frequent hand washing, and avoiding people who are sick.
- Flying is not recommended if you have a cold, sinus infection, or an upper respiratory infection because of the pressure changes in the face that occur with flying.
- Maintaining adequate hydration and breathing humidified air at home and work will allow the normal mucus that is produced in the sinuses to drain more easily.
Other Remedies For Symptom Relief
Staying hydrated can help thin mucus to ease congestion.
Drinking hot liquids such as tea and broth may help relieve your symptoms. Breathing in moist air may also help relieve the discomfort that comes with nasal congestion. Try breathing in steam from the shower, a bowl of hot water, or a mug of tea.
If your voice is hoarse, rest it by avoiding yelling, whispering, and singing.
Placing a warm compress over the inflamed area can help reduce pressure and provide relief.
damages the natural protective elements of your nose, mouth, throat, and respiratory system.
If you smoke, consider quitting. Ask a doctor if you need help or are interested in quitting. Quitting may help prevent future episodes of both acute and chronic sinusitis.
Wash your hands frequently, especially during cold and flu seasons, to keep your sinuses from becoming irritated or infected by viruses or bacteria on your hands.
Using a humidifier during the cooler, dryer months may also help prevent sinus infections.
Talk with a doctor to see if allergies are causing your sinusitis. If youre allergic to something that causes persistent sinus symptoms, you will likely need to treat your allergies to relieve your sinus infection.
You may need to seek an allergy specialist to determine the cause of the allergy. The specialist may suggest:
- avoiding the allergen
Donât Miss: Antibiotics For Ingrown Hair Infection
You May Like: How To Relieve Sinus Pressure In Your Face
How Is A Sinus Headache Treated
For mild sinus headaches that last a few days, at-home remedies can be effective at easing the pain. Remedies, like taking a hot, steamy shower, can help ease a person’s congestion by facilitating drainage of the nasal passages. Your healthcare provider will also recommend rest and lots of fluids. Some medical professionals recommend using a saline-based nasal irrigation system like a neti pot. Over-the-counter medications, like decongestants, antihistamines and pain relievers, may also help. Sometimes your healthcare provider will prescribe a corticosteroid nasal spray, especially if you have a history of allergies.
If your practitioner suspects a bacterial sinus infection, she will prescribe you an antibiotic, in addition to recommending the above remedies. Sinus surgery by an ENT, or ear, nose, and throat doctor is a last resort option for people with chronic sinusitis.
Why Am I Getting Sinus Headaches Everyday
- ENT Institute
Its devastating. World-shattering. Utterly painful.
Sinus headaches can be crippling to anyone who has them. Theyre also often mistaken for migraines, but theres a slight difference. For instance, sinus headaches have a lot to do with sinus infections discolored mucus, pain in the face, and even a fever.
If youre dealing with sinus headaches everyday then its likely theres something else going on. For instance, if you havent been diagnosed, you may be dealing with allergies. The first step would be getting an allergy test from a specialist. With pollen counts being so high lately, its something a lot of people will need to do to remain healthy. To learn more about allergy testing, watch the video below:
For others though, chronic sinusitis is rather common for them. Chronic sinusitis is when a person has longer lasting sinus infections four or more times a year. You might be wondering why someone would suffer that long with something like that, but in reality many dont know what kind of treatment options are out there. If youre more likely to get sinus infections or chronic sinusitis, then the Ear, Nose and Throat Institute has treatment and surgery options for sinusitis. Watch the videos below to learn more:
But what if you cant think about surgery right now? What can you do at home right now to reduce pain and longevity? Other than the obvious pain reliever medication, heres a few tips to get you through:
Recommended Reading: Remedies To Get Rid Of Sinus Infection
How Are Sinus Headaches Prevented
If you have reoccurring sinus headaches as a symptom of sinusitis or seasonal allergies, you may need to consider prescription medication to manage the condition.
Lifestyle changes to reduce congestion, such as avoiding allergens and incorporating aerobic exercise into your routine, might decrease how many headaches you get.
In cases of chronic sinusitis, a nasal surgery such as a balloon sinuplasty might be the only way to stop getting more sinus headaches.
Diagnosis Is Key As Sinus Pain May Actually Be Part Of A Migraine Attack
Sometimes that dull, throbbing pain in your face is a sign that youve caught the dreaded common cold, and your sinuses are now inflamed. It’s tricky though to differentiate between sinus pain and a migraine or tension headache, since all three can produce similar types of pain.
Let’s learn more about sinus headaches and what you can do to ease your pain and accompanying symptoms.
Read Also: Treatment For Sinus Headache And Pressure
Your Sinus Headache May Not Be What You Think
Nearly everyone experiences a headache at some point, and the pain can range from mild to debilitating.
Sometimes, headaches are accompanied by pain and pressure in your brow and forehead, and cause nasal symptoms. Many people associate sinus and nasal symptoms with a sinus infection, also called sinusitis, or with an upper respiratory infection, a cold. They may say that they are experiencing a sinus headache. But sinus and nasal symptoms often can signal something else: a migraine headache.
The term “sinus headache” is not an actual medical diagnosis. Studies show that 90% of people with symptoms of a sinus headache are experiencing migraine headaches.
Sinusitis or migraine?
Migraines and headaches from sinusitis are easy to confuse because the signs and symptoms of the two types of headaches may overlap. Also, migraine headaches affect people differently and symptoms can change over time. This is why many who have had migraine headaches in the past are surprised when they begin having sinus and nasal symptoms with a migraine headache.
Sinusitis, however, usually isn’t associated with nausea or vomiting, nor is it aggravated by noise or bright light all common features of migraines.
These are a few ways you can tell whether your sinus and nasal symptoms are part of a sinus infection or part of a migraine headache:
- Confusion or trouble understanding speech
Sinuses Can Be A Pain In The Head Not Neck
That troublesome headache might not be a migraine or brought on by tension. It could be caused by sinus trouble, said doctors at Baylor College of Medicine.Our sinuses are air-filled spaces in our skull located behind our cheeks, forehead, eyes and the bridge of our nose, said Dr. Mas Takashima, assistant professor of otolaryngology at BCM and director of the Baylor Sinus Center.The sinuses work to humidify and cleanse the air, lighten the weight of the skull, and provide resonance to the voice. Sometimes, the sinuses fail to function correctly, leading to sinus pain caused by an infection or nasal congestion.
You May Like: Medicine For Runny Nose And Sinus Pressure
How Do You Diagnose Sinus Headaches Caused By Migraines
Sinus headaches are most likely due to migraines or tension headaches. Migraines are diagnosed by symptoms, including the frequency and severity of symptoms, family history, and by physical exam. Migraines can also include nausea and vomiting. These episodes may be triggered by hormonal changes, lack of sleep, certain foods or alcohol or caffeine, stress, or environmental changes like weather, altitude changes, or allergens. Many patients with migraines have family members who also experience migraine headaches.
If you have unusual or severe symptoms, additional tests such as an MRI of the brain may be ordered to rule out more serious conditions that can cause headache pain, such as tumors or bleeding around the brain. If you have repeated episodes of sinus pain and pressure, a nasal endoscopy or imaging such as an MRI or CT scan can determine if sinus pain or pressure is due to a sinus infection or other sinus pathology. A normal sinus CT scan while you have symptoms could help rule out sinusitis, and determine if migraines, headaches, or other causes of facial pain and pressure are causing the sinus symptoms.
Other causes of facial pain and pressure can include temporomandibular joint syndrome, clenching or grinding your teeth, trigeminal nerve pain, temporal arteritis , dental infection, or other neurologic causes of facial pain.
Sinus Headache Vs Tmj Migraine: Which One Do You Have
Many patients with TMJ disorder, short for temporomandibular joint disorder or simply TMD, experience pain on a regular basis. The pain can be chronic and debilitating.
Some might point to this as the difference between a sinus headache and a TMJ migraine. Thats not necessarily the case though.
Sinus headaches arent limited to when you have a cold or sinus infection. The sinus inflammation and congestion of allergies often lead to regular headaches.
Thats why it can be so confusing for people to identify what kind of headache theyre dealing with.
Lets take a moment to take a more in-depth look at the symptoms caused by TMJ pain versus sinus pain.
Recommended Reading: Sinus Pressure In Head When Bending Over
What Are Common Signs/symptoms
Sinus headaches are different from other headaches in that symptoms arent limited to pressure or throbbing sensations in the head. Pain is sometimes worse when bending forward or lying down. In addition to pain or pressure in the forehead or brow, you may experience:
- Facial pain, pressure, or fullness
- General fatigue
- Upper teeth pain or discomfort
Common Questions About Sinus Headaches
How can you tell the difference between a sinus headache and a migraine?
A few things to look out for with a sinus headache include yellow mucus drainage, bad breath and a fever. A migraine would more likely lead to clear nasal drainage, nausea, plus sensitivity to light.
Can you have a sinus headache without congestion?
If you are not congested, it is unlikely that you have a sinus headache. A buildup of mucus in the sinuses is a primary cause of a sinus headache, so you should expect to feel congested.
Sinus Headache Relief Is Available
If you or your child suffer from sinus headaches, Chacko Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center is here to diagnose the problem and offer the solutions you are most comfortable with.
Also Check: Allergies Lead To Sinus Infection
What Are The Symptoms Of Sinus Headaches
Patients with migraines or tension headaches commonly have sinus and nasal symptoms during their headaches, including sinus pressure, sinus pain, nasal congestion or runny nose. Studies of patients who have self-diagnosed or been diagnosed with sinus headaches were found to have migraines or tension headaches in more than 80 percent of cases only three to five percent of these patients had sinusitis.
Symptoms of sinusitis and migraine headaches can be similar, which can be confusing about what is causing sinus pain and pressure. Migraines and headaches can cause the following nasal symptoms:
- Pain and pressure around the eyes, across the cheeks, and the forehead
- Nasal congestion
- Eye redness, tearing, or eyelid swelling
- Symptoms on one or both sides of the face
Sinusitis is associated with nasal congestion or obstruction and a thick nasal discharge, sometimes with facial pain, pressure, or a feeling of fullness. However, facial pain or pressure or fullness without cloudy or colored nasal discharge is most likely not a sinus infection.
Can Sinus Pressure Cause A Migraine
Sinus headaches and migraines have many symptoms in common, but theyre not the same type of headache. Once the underlying sinus issue is resolved, sinus headaches should go away. But with migraines, ongoing medication may be needed to help prevent them from recurring.
Sinus pressure may be somewhat linked to migraines, however. If you have allergic rhinitis, your nasal passages can become inflamed and irritated in response to an allergen. Its thought that the histamine release that occurs as part of the allergic reaction can cause migraines. In fact, people who have allergic rhinitis are more than 10 times more likely to suffer from migraines.
Don’t Miss: How Do Doctors Test For A Sinus Infection
Why Do We Misdiagnose Migraine As Sinus Headache
Research studies show common sinus symptoms occur with migraine. In one study, 45% of migraine patients had at least one symptom of either nasal congestion or watery eyes. Migraine is also underdiagnosed and undertreated, meaning that a self-diagnosis of migraine is less likely.
A study involving almost 3,000 patients was important in evaluating the frequent complaint of sinus headache. In this study, the participants had at least six sinus headaches in the six months prior to entrance into the study. They had neither a migraine diagnosis nor treatment with a migraine-specific medication. What were the results? Eighty-eight percent of the participants had migraine and not sinus headaches.
Another study, called the American Migraine Study II, showed that many people who were diagnosed with migraine thought they had sinus headache. Significantly, there were almost 30,000 study participantsonly about 50% who were diagnosed with migraine knew they had migraine before the study. The most common misdiagnosis was sinus headache.
Get Ahead Of Cold Symptoms
Though theres no promise youll escape cold and flu season without a runny nose or sore throat, there are some steps you can take to increase your chances of staying healthy.
- Wash your hands frequently to help prevent coming into contact with or spreading harmful germs.
- Disinfect your environment and frequently clean commonly touched surfaces such as sink handles, doorknobs and handrails.
- Avoid sharing personal items, especially those that come in contact with your eyes, nose or mouth like utensils, washcloths or cups.
- Do not come in close contact with people who have colds or other upper respiratory infections.
Overall, pursue a healthy lifestyle to boost immunity by eating nutritious food, sleeping eight hours, drinking water, exercising and managing stress.
Read Also: Can A Bladder Infection Stop Your Period
Recommended Reading: Sinus Pressure Points On Feet
How To Do A Nasal Rinse
Nasal saline rinses are a good way to treat discomfort and congestion. They can help flush out mucus, debris, and irritants, and soothe nasal passages.
A neti pot can be used to do this. You fill a pot with a saline rinse that you can buy.
- Place the spout of the pot against one nostril.
- Tilt your head to the side.
- The saline will pour out of the lower nostrilthanks to gravity.
- Repeat steps with the other nostril.