Why Changes In The Weather And Shifts Between Seasons Can Trigger Migraine Attacks
Watching the seasons change can be an enjoyable experience for everyone. But spring rain, winters first snowfall or the arrival of fall foliage also signal changes in the atmosphere that can trigger migraine attacks. Cynthia Armand, MD, a physician at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York, studies how the changing seasons affect people with migraine. During a recent , Armand said the changes in the weather and transitions between seasons can influence migraine symptoms but there are ways to mitigate those effects.
How Do Allergies Cause Migraine Headaches
If you get migraines, you have a sensitive nervous system. Your body tends to react very quickly, or overreact, to changes in your environment that it views as threats.
If youâre prone to migraine headaches, your symptoms may be more severe during allergy season. Some people can also have ânonallergicâ triggers like perfume, the smell of gasoline, cigarette smoke, and weather changes.
When To See Your Doctor
Although many allergies can be controlled with judicial use of OTC medications, its always wise to consult with your doctor. If allergies are negatively impacting your quality of life or interfering with your daily activities, its in your best interests to explore treatment options with your doctor.
Your doctor might recommend that you see an allergist. This is a physician specializing in diagnosing and treating allergic conditions, such as asthma and eczema. An allergist might offer you a number of suggestions for treatment, including:
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The Many Faces Of Allergies
You may blame the pollen in the air or your furry friend for the allergy symptoms. The truth is, all these substances are harmless.
It is your immune system that perceives them as harmful causing an unpleasant response. This is why you experience allergy symptoms.
People will allergies will experience a variety of symptoms. Although, it depends on the allergen that causes them.
Allergic reactions affect different parts of the body including the nose and airways, sinuses, digestive tract, and skin.
This means someone experiencing an allergic reaction may suffer from a cough, headache, or joint pain. Joint pain is due to inflammation caused by the allergen.
So, your answer is yes. Allergies can cause a cough, headaches, and joint pain.
The response to allergens varies from one person to another. Many cases are mild. But severe and life-threatening reactions, known as anaphylaxis, can happen in rare cases.
Lets look at the different types of allergies and common symptoms associated with each.
Otc Medications For Allergies And Migraine Come With Potential Risks
If the symptoms of allergies and migraine are fairly mild, they could both be treated with just over-the-counter medications, says Hamilton. I would caution people who are self-treating who think their headaches are from allergies. They may take a lot of allergy medication, and certain ones like Sudafed can potentially cause a worsening headache if you take it frequently, she says.
Pain relivers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, NSAIDS, decongestants, and combination medicines that contain caffeine, aspirin, and acetaminophen or butalbital can all contribute to medication overuse headache , according to the American Migraine Foundation.
MOH is defined as a headache occurring on 15 or more days per month in a person with a preexisting primary headache and developing as a consequence of regular overuse of acute or symptomatic headache medication, according to the International Headache Society.
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Can Allergies Give You A Headache Yes Heres How To Find Relief Asap
Spring allergies can cause a slew of unpleasant symptoms, including painful headaches.
- Spring allergies can cause a slew of unpleasant symptoms, such as a stuffy nose, watery eyes, cough, and even headaches.
- Allergy headaches often stem from inflammation and can cause sinus pain.
- Doctors explain the distinct symptoms of allergy headaches and the best treatment options to consider.
Spring can be flat-out miserable if you struggle with seasonal allergies. High pollen counts can leave sufferers battling a stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, and watery eyes, among other unpleasant issues. But some allergy sufferers may notice another symptom thats not mentioned often: a headache.
Heres the thing: Headaches happen for all sorts of reasons, and it can be tough to know whether the pain is due to a particularly nasty allergy season or something else. Whatever the cause, youll likely want to do everything you can to feel better. Here, experts explain how to tell if your headache is stemming from spring allergies. Plus, how to find relief ASAP.
Can Treating My Allergies Prevent Migraine Attacks
So, if you have allergies and migraine, what can you do to feel better?
Well, you can start by treating your allergies. Just like with other migraine triggers, avoiding the trigger in the first place can help you have fewer attacks.
One study found that immunotherapy for allergies helped younger patients get headaches less often.
That said, Dr. Crystal has noticed in her own practice that for some of her patients, starting allergy shots can cause migraine to get worse in the short-term. âPre-treating with an anti-inflammatory prior to the shots may help.â
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Causes Of Nausea In Seasonally Allergic People
The most common symptom of seasonal allergies is an increase in mucus production. This usually means runny noses and watery eyes for the seasonal allergy sufferer. Frequently, this excess mucus can run down your throat and into your stomach. The added mucus in the stomach may lead to nausea and even vomiting. In addition, the loss of fluids can lead to dehydration and a nauseous feeling. Finally, seasonal allergies can lead to sinus congestion. When this occurs, inflammation and congestion of the inner ear can impact balance and leave you feeling dizzy and/or nauseous.
- The most common symptom of seasonal allergies is an increase in mucus production.
- The added mucus in the stomach may lead to nausea and even vomiting.
What Does An Allergy Headache Feel Like
When you experience a headache caused by allergies, you may feel them in any of these spaces within your sinuses. It may even feel like your face, rather than your head, is what really hurts. You may have pain in the cheeks that radiates to your jaw and teeth. You may feel pain on the top of your head.
Allergies may also trigger a migraine headache. This type of headache may include throbbing, and is usually felt on one side of the head. You may find that the pain gets worse in sunlight or that you also feel nauseated.
The skull has a series of connected, hollow spaces known as sinuses, which are lined with soft tissue and a layer of mucus. These sinuses help humidify and filter the air you breathe, and help drain the nose. Allergy symptoms often appear in the sinuses, like when your nose is running or stuffed up.
Some of the spaces that make up the sinuses are found in the:
- Between or behind the eyes
- Behind the nose
You may experience headaches and pain if your sinuses are swollen or their openings are obstructed. This often happens with allergies. Swelling and blockage in the sinuses can prevent normal drainage and airflow, causing a buildup of pressure. Other allergy triggers, such as smoke or certain foods, can lead to headaches.
The degree of pain from an allergy headache can vary widely, from dull to almost debilitating. The level of pain may also change with your position, such as whether you are standing or lying down.
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Home Care & Natural Remedies
If youve been unable to avoid allergic headache triggers, there are accessible remedies out there to treat those symptoms.How do you get rid of an allergy headache? To get rid of an allergy headache, try over-the-counter antihistamines, decongestants, or nasal sprays. These remedies work to relieve sinus congestion and pressure.Lots of water, steam baths, and warm washcloths applied to areas where youre feeling the most pressure can also help relieve your symptoms if youre seeking more natural remedies.
Tips To Avoid Cluster Headaches
You may want to ask your doctor if you should try some of these things:
Melatonin. This is a hormone that your body makes to control sleep-wake cycles. You may have lower levels of it during cluster periods, especially when you have a headache.
Taking a melatonin supplement may help your sleep patterns. Though there is no proof yet that it can help prevent cluster headaches, some headache specialists believe that it is worth trying.
Preventive medication. It may help if your cluster headaches last more than 2 weeks. These drugs include:
- High blood pressure pills such as calcium channel blockers — especially verapamil
- Anti-seizure medications like topiramate
- Lithium, a bipolar medication
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Why Allergies May Increase Migraine Frequency
There are several ways that allergies and asthma could contribute to an increase in migraine frequency, including:
- Increased inflammation: Allergic rhinitis happens when exposure to allergens cause runny nose, congestion and post-nasal drip. Common allergens are cat and dog hair, dust, grass and pollen, among others. Allergies and asthma cause inflammation that could increase migraine frequency. This occurs by the activation of cells close to the outer layer of the brain and trigeminal nerve, which is the main pain generator for migraine headache.
- Increased nasal congestion: Nasal congestion caused by seasonal allergies can irritate the trigeminal nerve in the nose, which could trigger migraine headache and associated symptoms.
- Sleep disturbances: Nasal congestion caused by seasonal allergies can irritate the trigeminal nerve in the nose, which could trigger migraine headache and associated symptoms.
- Parasympathetic nerve involvement:Allergy and asthma flare-ups activate nerves in the bodys parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the bodys digestion and rest response when the body is eating or drinking, relaxing or resting. Dehydration, hunger, fatigue and stress are migraine triggers for some people.
- Weather changes
See a headache specialist to determine if preventive medication or therapy like injections, nutraceuticals or electroceuticals are right for you.
Do you want to learn more about migraines, headaches and facial pain? Go here.
Persistent Headache More Typical Of Migraine Than Allergies
Trying to determine what is headache due to migraine versus what is a headache due to allergies is a common issue, says Hamilton. We know that a lot of people can have a misdiagnosis of sinus headaches or headaches from allergies, when in fact their headaches are from migraine.
Hamilton points to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine that found that 88 percent of people with a history of sinus headaches actually had a migraine-type headache. A large percentage of people were misdiagnosed, she says.
The fact is, headache is not a very common symptom, in and of itself, of seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis. Its much more common to have symptoms such as nasal congestion, like a stuffy nose or runny nose, and eye watering, says Hamilton.
If you do have a headache that persists, it might not be just allergies, she says. That might be an indication that there’s also migraine going on. Typically, headache can be due a sinus infection or viral or bacterial infection, but it’s rare to have a significant headache from just allergy symptoms, says Hamilton.
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Can Allergies Cause Headaches Know When To Visit Urgent Care
According to the World Health Organization, 50% to 75% of people worldwide have experienced a headache over the last year. Headaches are one of the most common nervous system-related disorders for those aged 18-65.
There are various reasons for people to complain of a headache, including the onset of seasonal or recurrent year-round allergies.
At Getwell Urgent Care, we believe an informed patient is the best tool we can have for the overall health and wellbeing of all. If youre experiencing persistent or worsening headaches, it may be time to seek medical care. Our urgent care facility is open seven days a week to diagnose and treat you for headaches just walk in when you need to be seen.
Treating Allergies Could Help With Migraine
There are certainly scenarios where treating allergies may help headaches, says Strauss. But what we want to avoid is spending years cycling through tons of allergy medicines if someone is having severe headaches. There are other medications wed want to try, she says.
If you have migraine attacks that seem to really be triggered by certain changes in the environment for example, higher pollen or if there is really a lot of nasal congestion or runny nose, then I think it may be worth exploring the role of allergies, says Hamilton.
Strauss suggests keeping a yearly calendar year to see if there are certain months or seasons when migraine attacks become a problem.
This can tip you off if its related to something in the environment, and you could talk with your doctor. It may help to take preventive migraine medications or allergy medicine during those months, she says.
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What Is The Link Between Migraine And Allergies
According to the American Migraine Foundation, one study found that migraine occurred in 34% of people who have allergies, compared to 4% of people who do not have allergies. Asthma is also more common in people who get migraine compared to people who do not.
Additional research showed that migraine occurred 14% to 28% more frequently in those with migraine and allergies than in those with migraine alone. Allergies and asthma also cause people with episodic migraine to be more than twice as likely to develop chronic migraine . Another study showed that there is an increased risk of migraine in children with asthma.
When To See A Physician
When you experience a headache and allergies, it is important to monitor your condition. Symptoms of seasonal allergies usually improve with some basic home treatments like taking nonprescription medications such as antihistamines and decongestants and doing nasal irrigations.
Sinusitis can also be treated with over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen and naproxen, nasal irrigation, nasal steroids, humidifiers, warm compresses applied to the face and drinking lots of fluids. It is important to see a doctor if complications occur. It is also important to know that migraines are often confused with sinus headaches because they occur in similar locations. Migraines are treated differently than sinusitis. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, pain in front of the head is caused by migraines more often than sinusitis.
There are situations where you need to see a physician.
- A sinus infection does not clear up within ten days after home treatment
- Facial pain with a fever lasts longer than a week
- There is a persistent green or yellow discharge from the nose
- Seasonal allergies seem to be worsening rather than improving
Seasonal allergies and sinus infections are common, but fortunately, most are self-treatable. Do not hesitate to see a doctor though if concerned about your health.
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Seasonal Allergies Vs Sinus Infection
Sinuses are a connected system of air-filled cavities behind the forehead and cheekbones and between the eyes . Normally, the mucous produced by the sinuses drain into the nose.
Seasonal allergies or hay fever is not the same thing as a sinus infection. Hay fever is a condition in which your immune system responds to some stimulus. It is often pollen but could also be dust mites, pollution or smoke. The immune system causes the nasal passages and sinus linings to swell and become inflamed.
Hay fever symptoms include the following.
A sinus infection or sinusitis is also an inflammation of the tissues that line the sinuses. The same allergens that cause seasonal allergies can make a sinus infection feel worse. Still, the sinus infection is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, which leads to inflammation in the sinus cavities. It involves more than swelling of nasal passages and sinus linings.
When you have a sinus infection, fluid fills the cavities, and the bacteria, viruses or fungi grow in the fluid. Some physicians prefer the use of the term rhinosinusitis because inflamed sinus cavities are usually accompanied by swollen nasal cavities. Rhino is the medical term for the nose when combined with another term.
Symptoms of a sinus infection, per the Centers for Disease Control, include the following.
- Facial pain or pressure
- Chronic fatigue
Symptoms Of Seasonal Cluster Headaches
You may get:
Severe pain behind or around your eye. It can be more intense than a migraine.
Periods of pain. Your headaches happen several times a day for a few weeks or months, which are called “cluster periods.”
Breaks between attacks. You can go long amounts of time between cluster periods with no headache pain.
Headaches around the same time every year. January, February, July, August, fall, and spring are common.
Headaches around the same time of day or night. They tend to peak from 1 to 2 a.m., 1 to 3 p.m., and 9 p.m., Grosberg says, but attacks can happen at any time.
Pain that wakes you up. You may get up during the night because of pain. Some people wake up 1-2 hours after going to bed.
Extreme alertness during cluster periods. People who get this type of headache “seem to be hyper-aroused and alert, often pacing the room or feeling as if they must remain in constant motion,” says Allen A. Towfigh, MD, medical director of New York Neurology & Sleep Medicine.
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