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 .
How Are Fall Allergies Treated
If you suffer from fall allergies, an ear, nose and throat physician can help you identify your triggers and determine the best treatment to keep them under control.
- Medications: For some people, using antihistamines, decongestants, eye drops, and nasal sprays can help relieve symptoms. Neti pots can also help flush out your nose and clear out mucus buildup.
- Allergy shots: Those who have more severe symptoms or whose allergies that interfere with their daily lives may benefit from immunotherapy, sometimes called allergy injections.
- Essential oils: Using diffusers with oils such as peppermint, basil, eucalyptus, tea tree, or lemon may help ease allergy symptoms. However, talk to your doctor before using an oil diffuser because some oils can interfere with certain medications.
- Honey: Another common home remedy for allergies is honey. Honey often contains local pollen, and it is believed that consuming small amounts of local pollen can help your body adjust to the allergen. However, there are no definitive studies regarding the effects of honey on allergies.
- Nutrition and exercise: Eating healthy and staying physically active can boost your immune system and help mitigate some fall allergy symptoms.
- Keeping indoor air clean: Make sure your house is regularly dusted and well ventilated, and keep your windows closed if the pollen content in the air is high.
What Are Sinus Headaches
Sinus headaches refer to pain experienced in the sinuses, forehead, cheeks and other areas of the face. The sinuses are four hollow cavities containing mucus that filter out bacteria thats breathed in through the nose. When the sinuses are infected with a virus or bacteria they become inflamed, and the resulting inflammation prevents mucus drainage. This condition is called sinusitis, with the subsequent buildup of mucus and swelling frequently leading to a sinus headache.
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Should I See A Specialist For Headaches Caused By Allergies
If over-the-counter medications and lifestyle changes do not fix your allergy headaches, this can lead to additional problems associated with nasal allergies, such as chronic sinus infections. When allergies cause congestion over a significant period of time, this can eventually cause sinus blockages, which can lead to a sinus infection.
If your allergy headaches and other allergy symptoms persist, it is important to see an allergy or sinus specialist. This specialist can perform an allergy skin test to evaluate your allergies, and even conduct a sinus CAT scan to evaluate your sinuses. An allergist can also recommend stronger, prescription treatments that may be more effective than over-the-counter medications for relieving your symptoms.
If you are struggling to stay on top of your headaches and other allergy symptoms, the experts at Aspire Allergy & Sinus are ready to help. Contact us to make your first appointment and start feeling better faster!
Can Allergies Increase Migraine Frequency
Studies show that allergies can increase the frequency of migraine. One study¹ showed that migraine frequency in patients with allergic rhinitis was four times higher than in the control group. While people with AR are more likely to experience sinus headaches, high nitric oxide levels are produced in AR and have a vasodilator effect, which contributes to migraine.
Other studies showed that if you have hay fever and asthma, your attacks are likely to be 14 to 28% more frequent², and you are also 2.1 times more likely to develop chronic migraine. You’re also more likely to have migraine in the first place if you have allergic rhinitis and more likely to have asthma if you have migraine.
This all indicates that there is likely a fairly strong connection, through inflammation, between allergies and migraine.
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Migraine And Sinus Headache Have Overlapping Symptoms
Part of the reason for confusion is because oftentimes, migraine-related headaches mimic what people typically think of as sinus headaches, she explains. You can have pain over the sinuses and over the face with both types of headache. With migraine, there can also be symptoms that are similar to allergy symptoms, like a stuffy or runny nose and eye tearing, and that overlap can be why patients are misdiagnosed, says Hamilton.
However, there are some key symptoms of migraine that you wont find in other types of headaches, which can include nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, and sound sensitivity, according to the American Migraine Foundation.
Some people with migraine have a visual aura that includes bright spots, lights, or colors prior to the onset of an attack, which wouldnt happen in a tension-type or sinus headache.
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Outdoor Allergies Vs Indoor Allergies
Its important to learn if you have outdoor allergies or indoor allergies. If you have outdoor allergies, your symptoms will happen at the same time each year. Outdoor allergens include grass pollen, tree pollen, weed pollen and fungus spores. If you have indoor allergies, your symptoms may exist year-round or occasionally. Indoor allergens include dust mites, mold and pet dander. If you have both outdoor and indoor allergies, youll deal with symptoms throughout the year. They may get worse during certain months.
Seeing an allergist is the best way to determine what youre allergic to. They will review your medical history. They will also check your symptoms and conduct an allergy test. Quick and accurate skin testing is the most common type of allergy testing. Your allergist may also run blood testing if necessary. Once your allergist identifies your triggers, they can help you develop a treatment plan.
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Are Allergies Triggering Your Migraine Attacks
While allergies can trigger migraine attacks, its also possible that you just have both conditions simultaneously.
For some people with allergies, symptoms like sneezing, sinus congestion, and watery eyes can also come with a headache. Many people who experience head pain with their allergies wrongly assume its just another symptom of allergies, or a sinus headache, according to Lauren Doyle Strauss, DO, a headache specialist and an assistant professor at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
I see people with allergies who think they have sinus headaches when in reality, many of them meet the criteria for migraine, says Dr. Strauss.
If youre living with both conditions, the one-two punch of allergies and migraine can keep you indoors and away from friends and activities for weeks or even months, depending on the season. Find out how allergies may be triggering or worsening migraine and what the experts advise about seeking diagnosis and treatment.
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Do I Have A Sinus Headache Or A Migraine
Sinus headaches and migraines are often confused as the pain is experienced in the same area of the face. However, sinus headaches will be accompanied by noticeable nasal congestion that includes thick, yellow or green mucus. Migraines are also common and cause discomfort and aggravation, but any nasal discharge will be clear.
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Even If You Have Allergies Frequent Headaches May Indicate Migraine
Hamilton suggests talking with your primary care doctor if youre having frequent headaches with allergy symptoms. That might mean that your allergies are actually triggering migraines or contributing, she says.
In that situation it might be useful to try migraine medications both as-needed, or abortive, medications and potentially preventive medications, she adds.
If it is a migraine, treating the attack with typically wont be as effective as a targeted migraine treatment, says Strauss.
A good rule of thumb is that if youre not getting complete relief of your headaches from over-the-counter medications, or if the headaches are becoming more frequent or frequent enough that you’re having to take an over-the-counter medication several times a week, you should definitely seek a doctors care, says Hamilton.
What Does A Sinus Headache Feel Like
Sinus headaches are headaches that may feel like an infection in the sinuses . You may feel pressure around your eyes, cheeks and forehead. Perhaps your head throbs. However, many people who assume they have headaches from sinusitis, including many who have received such a diagnosis, actually have migraines.
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Food Allergies And The Link To Migraines And Sinus Headaches
Some people have identified a relationship between their headaches and the consumption of particular foods. Studies have investigated this relationship, and seem to support this idea. However, there is controversy over whether this relationship is related to allergies, or if the migraine may be triggered by a particular chemical or ingredient in the food. Common food triggers for headaches include:
- Artificial sweeteners
It is important to note that just because you experience a headache after consuming the above foods, it does not mean you have an allergy or intolerance. The only way to know if you have a food allergy is to visit an allergist for an allergy test to identify what you are allergic to. We also recommend keeping an allergy food diary a record of which foods are eaten, when you eat them, and what symptoms you experience later. This can help your NYC doctor identify suspicious patterns. Keep in mind that an allergic reaction could occur immediately, or could take time to develop.
Avoidance of food triggers may decrease the frequency of your migraines but should be approached cautiously in order to avoid adopting an unbalanced or unhealthy diet. We recommend that you consult with our allergists or a dietician before beginning an avoidance diet.
Managing Allergy Headaches And Triggers
The key to managing your allergies and reducing headaches is limiting exposure to allergens and triggers.
- Stay indoors and keep the windows shut when pollen counts are high.
- Wear glasses or sunglasses outdoors to keep pollen from getting in your eyes.
- Use the air conditioning in your home and in your car. Make sure to change out the air filters regularly and keep AC units clean.
- Use mite-proof covers in your bedroom for pillows, comforters, and mattresses to reduce exposure to dust mites.
- Keep your homes humidity at 30-50% to reduce exposure to mold. Clean your kitchen, bathrooms, and basement regularly and use a dehumidifier in damp, humid places.
- Wash floors with a damp mop or rag to avoid dry-sweeping or dusting.
- If you are allergic to a pet, keep them outside of your home. If a pet must be kept indoors, keep it out of the bedroom so you are not exposed to allergens while you sleep.
- Replace carpeting with hardwood, tile or linoleum to reduce dander in the home.
Many sinus headache triggers are airborne and difficult to avoid. Discuss your options with your allergist to decide which treatment options are best for you.
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Can Allergies Cause Sinus Pressure
High pollen counts, dust mites and even your neighbors cat can flare up your allergies and have you begging for allergy relief. But as time passes, you might notice those allergy symptoms becoming more severe. Learn how your allergies can cause sinus pain and congestion, and what steps you can take to relieve sinus and allergy symptoms.
You May Need Specialists To Treat Your Migraine And Allergies
Its important to be aware that migraine and allergies are commonly present in the same person and both issues need to be addressed, says Hamilton.
It might take potentially seeing different doctors both an allergist and a neurologist and trying different medications for both conditions. In some cases, you may not get complete relief until you address both issues, she says.
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Diagnosis And Testing For Sinusitis
There are various tests that can and should be performed to confirm a diagnosis, determine the level of infection and check for other more serious issues.
A physical examination is completed, which includes a full head and neck examination so that more serious issues can be excluded. Swollen lymph nodes may occur in the neck if an infection is present, which is no different than the swelling of lymph nodes that accompanies an acute sore throat or ear infection .
Sinus palpation is used to determine the level of tenderness or swelling. When pain is experienced caused by the palpation, in the frontal or maxillary sinuses, it will be taken into consideration. A doctor may also use transillumination to look at the frontal and maxillary sinuses, though this is not always the most effective test.
The oral cavity and oropharynx is examined to evaluate the palate and condition of dentition, as well as looking for evidence of postnasal drip.
Anterior rhinoscopy, conducted with a nasal speculum, is used to examine the condition of the mucus membranes to look for evidence of purulent drainage or to look for signs of polyps or other masses. This examination is carried out with the use of a nasal decongestant, with treatments both before and after.
An ear examination may be carried out to inspect for possible middle ear fluid. This could be a sign of a mass or growth in the nasopharynx .
- Conjunctival congestion
- Proptosis and visual disturbances
What Causes Fall Allergies
- Pollen: Ragweed is the most prevalent cause of fall allergies, leading to episodes of allergic rhinitis or hay fever. These plants release fine, powder-like pollen into the air. This pollination peaks in mid-September, but it can keep patients with allergies sniffling and itching for weeks if not months. Other weed pollen, such as pigweed, dock, sorrel, and lamb’s quarters thrive in September when grass pollen resurfaces.
- Mold: Mold grows in moist areas and may grow in wet areas outside, especially where there are piles of damp leaves.
- Dust mites: When the weather grows colder and you start to use your heater more indoors, it can cause dust mites to get stirred into the air. Dust mites can trigger allergy symptoms and lead to sneezing and runny noses.
- Pet dander: Spending more time indoors can cause you to be more exposed to pet dander from your furry friends.
- School: As children go back to school, they may be exposed to more allergens such as mold and dust mites.
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Should I See My Dentist
If you feel pain in your jaw, its always a good idea to seek professional help. This will help to rule out any underlying conditions, like problems with your jaw or oral health issues like cavities and gum disease. If, however, none of these issues are diagnosed and you are feeling congested, it is possible that you have a sinus infection or severe allergies, which could be causing you discomfort. In this case, we may refer you to a general practitioner who will be able to provide you with the appropriate treatment.
If we find that you are suffering from both TMD and allergies, we will help you manage your jaw pain. The treatment is most likely to be non-surgical, and we may consult with other healthcare practitioners to ensure you receive the most effective treatment.
If you are suffering from jaw pain, we encourage you to come in and see us. Our team is dedicated to providing the very best care for each patient, and we pride ourselves on our friendly service and high-quality treatments. Our surgeons are highly specialised and experienced, and happy to address any of your questions and concerns. To find out more about our team, please take a look here.
To find out more about the treatment and management of jaw pain, or to arrange a consultation, please dont hesitate to get in touch.
Sinus Headache Vs Migraine
According to the American Migraine Foundation, 50 percent of migraine misdiagnoses start with a person thinking they have sinus headache. Up to 90 percent of people who go to the doctor for sinus headache find out they have migraine instead.
People with migraine may develop symptoms similar to sinusitis, like a runny nose or congestion. Migraine headaches also cause pain along the trigeminal nerve, which interacts with the sinus passages. People experiencing migraine may think this pain is related to the sinuses.
If you dont have any of the symptoms that come specifically with a sinus headache, you may be experiencing a migraine. Migraine is treated differently from sinus headache. Symptoms specific to migraine include:
- sensitivity to light and sound
If youre experiencing symptoms specific to migraine, youre likely experiencing a migraine attack and not a sinus headache.
Sinusitis directly causes sinus headaches, so they share the same causes and triggers. These include:
- Viral infection. This is the most common cause of sinusitis and sinus headache. About
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When To Talk With A Doctor
Recurring headaches and suspected acute sinusitis should always be evaluated by a doctor. Experts believe that most people who self-diagnose sinusitis are actually experiencing migraines. Getting the correct diagnosis is crucial to successful treatment.
Sinus pain and pressure that doesnt improve after 7 days despite treatment could mean that youre being treated for the wrong condition, especially if you dont experience other sinus symptoms.
You should also see your doctor if your headaches are accompanied by symptoms typically experienced with migraine attacks.
You dont have to be experiencing sharp head pain in order to have a migraine. Accompanying nausea, vision changes, and light sensitivity could mean you have a migraine, and not a sinus headache.
For migraine treatment, you can start with your primary care physician, and if needed you may be referred to a headache specialist, possibly a neurologist or ear, nose, and throat doctor.