How Is A Sinus Headache Different From A Migraine Attack
Whereas a sinus headache is a result of pressure on the nasal walls, migraine attacks originate in the brain, says Rajneesh. Theres often a clear association in a person who has a history of allergies, and then their allergies flare up, which then leads to headaches, and the headache is usually frontal, he says.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, people with allergic rhinitis are more than 10 times more likely to have migraine.
Although both migraine and a sinus headache can come with a runny nose, with migraine the discharge is usually clear, whereas in a headache that comes with sinusitis, it can be colored or foul smelling, says Rajneesh.
Migraine attacks are often associated with other symptoms besides a headache, which can include nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, and sound sensitivity, according to Weber. Some migraine patients have an aura, typically visual, with spots, lights, or colors prior to the onset of a migraine attack, he says.
How a Migraine Attack Unfolds
How Long Do Sinus Headaches Last
Viruses cause most sinus infections. A viral sinus infection typically resolves on its own. Similar to how the common cold clears up by itself, your sinus headache should feel better within about a week. If it doesnt go away, see your healthcare provider. You may have a bacterial or fungal sinus infection that requires medication.
Your Sinus Headache Could Actually Be A Migraine Headache
by Alan S. Berger, M.D. | Jul 31, 2019 | Sinus Headaches
Most people have experienced some sort of headache at some point, whether it be in the form of a piercing migraine or a tight tension headache after your computer crashed. Headaches come in all shapes and sizes and from multiple different causes.
The sinuses of the facial bones are air-filled spaces, with a pair across the forehead and brow , two pairs along the bridge of the nose , and the largest pair of sinuses across the cheeks . Sinuses help to retain heat, make the skull lighter, humidify inhaled air, and even help the voice to resonate more loudly. Sinuses can also sometimes be a pain in the neck , particularly when they succumb to allergy or infection. The mucosal lining of these sinuses can become inflamed and swollen and may get a little over-enthusiastic about the production of mucus and pus, which leads to congestion and a build-up of pressure in the affected sinus cavity.
A short foray into the available literature online will tell you that sinus headaches arent as straightforward or common as many people think. Studies have found approximately 90% of headaches diagnosed either by a healthcare professional or by self-diagnosis as a sinus headache are in fact migraine headaches.
- Nasal congestion
- Facial or dental pain, usually just on one side of the face
- Facial swelling
Specific to a bacterial rhinosinusitis, additional symptoms may also include fever, fatigue, and pressure in the ear.
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Natural Remedies For Sinusitis
Its normal to want to treat the current sinus infection quickly. That said, it is a good idea to get to the root of the problem. Treating your chronic nasal congestion can end your toothaches for good. This will let you get back to your normal life.
Once you treat the tooth pain, you can tackle your underlying problem. Here are some natural remedies for sinusitis:
- Flush your sinuses. Use a neti pot or a saline solution to flush your sinuses. This will also keep them moist.
- Do not over-use nasal sprays. Over the counter, nasal sprays are habit forming and can cause more problems than they solve.
- Try a bromelain supplement. Bromelain is an ingredient in pineapple stems and can help reduce swelling in the body. Check with your doctor before taking this supplement.
- Steam your face. Hot steam can really moisten your sinuses and loosen mucus. Try a hot shower or a steam tent.
- Drink a lot of water. Staying hydrated is key when it comes to a natural remedy for sinusitis.
- Spicy foods. Chili peppers, mustard, and horseradish can all help clear your sinuses.
- Try a humidifier. This will keep the air in your home moist and easy to breathe.
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How Do I Get Rid Of A Sinus Headache
To get rid of a sinus headache, you have to treat the underlying cause. But you can take steps to ease sinus pressure and pain at home:
- Apply a warm compress to painful areas of the face.
- Use a decongestant to reduce sinus swelling and allow mucus to drain.
- Try a saline nasal spray or drops to thin mucus.
- Use a vaporizer or inhale steam from a pan of boiled water. Warm, moist air may help relieve sinus congestion.
Viruses, bacteria and sometimes fungi cause sinus infections. Viral infections often go away on their own. But if your infection is bacterial or fungal, you need antibiotics or antifungal medications. Your healthcare provider may also recommend other medications to ease discomfort, such as:
- Antihistamines to prevent allergy symptoms.
- Pain relievers to ease headache pain.
- Steroids to reduce inflammation.
Migraines with sinus symptoms
Sinus headaches that are actually migraines need a different type of treatment. The first step is to relieve your pain. You should know that frequently using over-the-counter medications when you have a headache can cause even more headaches .
Your provider may recommend prescription medication for migraine pain. You may also need a preventive medication that helps you have fewer migraine attacks.
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Sinus Migraine: When Sinus Pain Is More Than A Headache
You have a headache. It extends over your eye and you have pressure in your face. Your nose even runs a little. You take some Sudafed or ibuprofen, tell everyone you have a sinus headache or even a sinus migraine, and lay down for a while. Two or three hours later you are better. You might have a little residual soreness and you might be a little tired, but the worst of the headache is over. Youve just had a sinus headache or was it?
You could have had a migraine that isnt even related to any sinus issues and not realize it. You felt sinus pain and pressure, so your mind automatically went to sinus headache. Your doctor may even have told you it was sinus related and the subject of migraines never came up. It happens a lot more than you might think. In fact, nearly 90% of patients who visit their doctor and complain of sinus headache actually have a migraine or migraine-type headache.
This is an easy misdiagnosis, but its important to get it right because sinus-related headaches and straight-up migraines are treated differently. For a sinus headache, a decongestant could be key. But if youre having a migraine, you might benefit most from a simple pair migraine glasses like these, or other remedies that are designed for migraine.
What Is A Migraine Attack
Migraine is a common primary headache disorder . In essence they are the result of a neurological malfunction that is thought to originate in the brain stem. Medical scientists and researchers still arent exactly sure what causes a migraine attack.
Leading theories relate to hyperexcitability within certain areas of the brain or a disorder from the brain stem which triggers the migraine attack.
The brain stem is a small but extremely important part of the brain. It allows the nerve connections of the motor and sensory system to pass from the brain to the body. This controls bodily sensations and movement.
At the start of an attack, chemical changes are thought to develop in the brainstem which triggers a series of reactions causing the brain to respond abnormally to otherwise normal signals. The result from this hypersensitive response could be migraine.
Interestingly, at least 50% of people who experience migraine still have not been diagnosed.
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Migraine Sinus Headache And Allergies: What To Know
Spring has sprung! While this means warmer weather and more hours of sunlight, it also means allergy season.
Allergies can cause migraines and sinus headaches for some individuals. Not sure which one you are dealing with? Youre not alone. In fact, migraines are often mistaken for sinus headaches.
Learn how these ailments differ and how allergies can play a role in the severity of each.
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
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What Is The Treatment For Non
Painkillers can help soothe symptoms related to non-sinus related headaches. However, it is best to treat the underlying condition thats causing your headaches to prevent future headaches. For TMJ headaches, a mouthguard worn when sleeping can help prevent headaches. Muscle relaxers may also help prevent muscle-related headaches. Be sure to consult with your doctors before taking any new medication.
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.
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What Are The Early Signs Of Detection Of The Coronavirus
Early symptoms reported by some people include malaise, headache, sore throat, and fever . Others experience a loss of odor and taste. COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms at first, but then becomes more severe in 5-7 days, worsening coughing and shortness of breath.
What Are The Treatment Options
Your primary care provider, or a neurologist, can provide recommendations for treating your headaches based on their severity and frequency, and can rule out more serious causes of your headache. Treatment for migraines includes both over-the-counter and prescription medications and preventative medications for patients with severe or frequent headaches, or if headaches are present for more than 15 days per month.
Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also be associated with rebound headaches or medication-overuse headaches if taken too often. Tell your doctor how often you take pain medications for headaches. Avoid triggers, and talk to your doctor about your sleep habits. Keep a headache diary to record your headache symptoms, triggers, and treatments.
Sinus headaches caused by migraines or tension headaches should not be treated with antibiotics. Because there are similar symptoms between acute sinusitis and migraine headaches with nasal and sinus symptoms, it can be difficult to tell if your symptoms are truly a sinus infection. Sinus pain and pressure without discolored nasal discharge is most likely not a sinus infection. If you have been diagnosed with frequent sinus infections and have been treated with repeated episodes of antibiotics without improvement, migraines or tension headaches could be causing your sinus pain and pressure.
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Do Migraines Run In Families
Its possible that there is a genetic connection to migraines. Those who have a family member who has experienced migraines are more likely to have one also.
Other risk factors for developing migraines include:
- Age- while these occur at any age, they tend to start during your teen years and peak during the 30s.
- Gender According to the Mayo Clinic, women are three times more likely to have migraines. Hormonal changes may also play a role.
Migraines can be debilitating. However, there are some differences between a migraine and a sinus headache. Well take a look at these differences, but first, lets examine what causes a sinus headache.
Interested in learning more? Following are some useful links to organizations with and their extensive library of informational videos.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sinus Headaches
What are the symptoms of sinus headaches? Sinus headaches cause deep, constant pain in the forehead, bridge of the nose, and cheekbones. Sudden head movement or straining can make the pain worse. Nasal discharge, full feeling in the ears, fever, and swelling of the face are all common symptoms of sinus headaches. These headaches can disrupt a persons everyday life, especially if they become a chronic problem.
Do migraine headaches cause sinus pain? Not typically. Migraine headaches are often mistaken for sinus headaches but are generally not caused by sinus congestion. While not causal, migraine headaches can be associated with sinus and nasal congestion. According to studies, over 95% of headaches labeled sinus headaches are in fact migraines. Therefore, while nasal congestion can accompany a migraine, it is most likely not the cause of the headache and should be treated separately.
How can I tell if my headache is a sinus headache and not a migraine? There are a few ways to tell if your headache is being caused by a sinus cavity blockage or infection. Often, the headache is accompanied by fever if the headache is sinus-related. Dr. Ummat may order a CT scan, MRI, or endoscopy to see if a sinus blockage is to blame for your headaches.
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How Does A Doctor Know Whether Its Sinus Or Migraine
Migraine is a clinical diagnosis, says Weber. That means that the doctor will ask you about your family history of migraine, allergies, and any other symptoms to determine if you have migraine or sinus headache.
To help your doctor make the correct diagnosis, it can be really helpful to track what youre experiencing, says Lauren Doyle Strauss, DO, a headache specialist and assistant professor at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Write down your symptoms, says Strauss. Where is the pain located? Are you tired or dizzy? Are you sensitive to light or sound? Do you have an upset stomach or vomiting?
In addition to considering your symptoms, there can be tests used to identify sinus problems. A headache caused by a sinus infection is typically diagnosed with a CT scan of the sinuses, says Weber.
What Causes Sinus Headaches
Sinus infections cause sinus headaches. Anything that makes mucus buildup in the sinuses can lead to a sinus infection, such as:
- The common cold is most often to blame.
- Seasonal allergies trigger mucus production.
- Nasal polyps, abnormal growths in the nose or sinuses. Nasal polyps can block mucus from draining.
- Deviated septum, which is when the line of cartilage and bone down the center of the nose isnt straight. A deviated septum can prevent mucus from properly draining.
Too much mucus gives germs an opportunity to grow. As germs build up, they irritate the sinuses. In response, sinus tissue swells, blocking the passage of mucus. Swollen, irritated sinuses filled with liquid make your face feel tender and achy.
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Get The Right Treatment
The result is the same: Your head hurts. Does it really matter why? Yes, because the diagnosis directs the treatment.
For a sinus headache, the focus is on draining the fluid from the mucus-filled spaces behind your cheeks to relieve the pressure and pain, as well as cooling the inflammation. Typically, you’ll take , antihistamines, or antibiotics, or a combination of these medicines. This wouldn’t help, and may even be harmful, for someone with a migraine.
Itâs also possible to relieve sinus pain and pressure using a bioelectric device that emits micro-current waveforms. Sold over-the-counter device, the device targets blood vessels and nerves to get relief.
Scientists think migraines happen because of a series of changes in your brain stem, nerve cells, and brain chemicals. No one knows exactly why they start, but they can be triggered by certain foods, activities, or other conditions.
Treatment for migraine can include over-the-counter pain relievers as well as prescription drugs that are also used to treat seizure disorders, depression, and heart conditions. Other remedies might come as pills, shots, and nasal sprays.