According to the American Migraine Foundation, self-diagnosed sinus headaches are actually migraines about 90% of the time. While sinus headaches are a fairly common symptom of seasonal and environmental allergies, allergens can often trigger migraines. Since it’s difficult to tell the difference between different kinds of pain, most people never know otherwise. However, allergy headaches and migraines are treated very differently, so it’s important that you know what each one is and how you should respond.
What is the Difference Between an Allergy Headache and a Migraine?
In an allergy headache, the pain is concentrated around the sinuses. The pain is usually accompanied by congestion and a post-nasal drip. It usually lasts for many days but goes away with treatment.
A migraine headache is associated with sensitivity to light and sound and, in many cases, nausea. The most unique aspect of a migraine is the aura. When the blood vessels in the head start to constrict, many people experience unique symptoms such as blurry vision or tunnel vision. Usually described as a throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head, a migraine typically last for a few hours but can last up to a few days.
Can My Allergies Give Me a Migraine?
Allergies don’t necessarily cause migraines, but those who suffer from allergies are about 10 times as likely to have migraines as those who don’t. Migraines can be caused by external stimulants, like allergens, but they are just as often linked to stress, a lack of exercise, and irregular sleep patterns.
How Do I Treat Allergy Headaches and Migraines?
You should focus on treating the allergies first because your symptoms are probably at the root of the problem. There are over-the-counter and prescription medications designed specifically for migraines, and you can ask your physician about these. However, if you’re in a pinch, take some ibuprofen for the pain and a bit of caffeine to help dilate the blood vessels in your head. You should also start keeping a symptom diary. Take notes of what you’re eating, where you are, and what you’re doing every time you start to feel a headache.
Allergy headaches and migraines can be downright debilitating. If you’re suffering, pay attention to see what kind of pain you feel. The better you can describe your symptoms, the better your doctor will be able to treat you and the quicker you’ll find relief.