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Can Sinus Problems Cause Migraine Headaches

What Nasty Symptoms You Should Watch For

Migraine? Chronic Sinusitis, Dizziness, Ear/Eye Pain/Pressure, Abnormal Hearing/Smell/Taste/Touch

Research shows that approximately forty-two percent of the patients that have migraines are incorrectly diagnosed by some physicians as having sinus headaches.

42%! That’s almost half.

In most situations, having a sinus infection is what causes the pain.

Sinusitis is swelling, or an inflammation, of the tissues that line the sinuses. Your sinuses are usually filled with air. But when they become congested and filled with fluid, germs grow and can cause an infection.

The symptoms that you might experience when having a sinus attack are:

  • Sinus pressure
  • Puffy eyelids
  • Headache and localized pain

Sinus headaches do not cause nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to light or photo-phobia. Some doctors say that migraines do not commonly have a nasal discharge, fever, post-nasal drip, or a sore throat.

With every attack my right eye swells up and the sinus drips. My husband often says “are you getting a cold?”

Sinus attacks from allergies, like migraines, usually reoccur repeatedly and can impact daily functioning significantly. And having an infection would increase the pain associated with a sinus attack.

So, you can see how easy they can be confused, but just remember the sensory sensitivities, nausea and vomiting as a telltale sign of migraine.

Telltale signs of a migraine are: sensory sensitives , nausea and vomiting. You will not get these with a sinus headache.

Headaches & Nasal Sinus Disease

While headaches are common determining the true cause of a headache may be difficult. Even though you may be certain your headache is from the sinuses, the headache may have another cause.

Nasal congestion with facial pressure, pain behind the eyes, cheeks and the upper teeth, may be symptoms of a sinus headache. Migraine headache can also have these same symptoms making the diagnosis difficult and the reasons to see an expert. For some people, there can be a combination of both sinus and migraine headaches. Sinus or nasal problems can trigger migraine.

Sinus headaches are caused when the nasal turbinates are swollen. The swelling of the turbinates creates excess mucous, often filling and blocking the sinuses. The turbinates may block the outflow of mucus from the sinuses and prevent the inflow into the sinuses. This swelling causes the facial pressure.

Medical management for turbinate congestion often helps and includes oral decongestants and over the counter decongesting nasal sprays . However, caution must be used with these decongesting nasal sprays because they can often make the symptoms worse by causing more congestion after the medication wears off. This is called a rebound phenomenon.

Can You Have Both Migraine And Sinus Headaches

People with migraine can get a sinus headache, says Rajneesh. Migraine headaches have both genetic and environmental factors, and one of the environmental factors is allergies. If the allergies flare up in a person with preexisting migraine headaches, the migraine headache can get worse in the setting of sinus conditions or sinus disease, he says.

In that case, as a neurologist, I would co-treat the headaches along with the primary care physician or the ear, nose, and throat surgeon. I would work on addressing the migraine, and the other care provider would treat the underlying sinus headaches, says Rajneesh.

Because sinus congestion can be a trigger for migraine, it can lead patients without a diagnosis of migraine to believe they are having sinus headaches, Weber says.

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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.

How Often Is Migraine Misdiagnosed As Sinus Headache

Sinus Migraines: How To Treat Them Effectively

A studyof almost 3,000 patients with self-diagnosed or doctor diagnosed sinus headaches showed that 88% of the patients actually had migraine according to ICHD3 criteria, not sinus headaches! The most common sinus symptoms reported in that study were sinus pressure , sinus pain , and nasal congestion .

Another study called the American Migraine Study II showed similar results. This was a study involving 30,000 patients. About 50% of patients who were eventually diagnosed with migraine had been previously misdiagnosed, and the most common prior misdiagnosis was sinus headache.

Yet another study that looked at 100 patients with self-diagnosed sinus headaches. After a detailed history and exam, patients were given headache diagnoses based on the ICHD3 criteria. Of the 100 patients with self-diagnosed headache, 86% were diagnosed with a migraine related headache disorder, rather than a sinus related headache.

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I Know What It Is Now What

Once you understand the checklist youll have a much better idea of which category you fall into. Of course, youll want to confirm this with your doctor for an official diagnosis. If you think that you are one of the majority and that your sinus headaches are actually migraine then its time to see a headache specialist. The good news is that with good treatment and support from a specialist you can significantly improve your condition.

Many people with headaches and sinus complaints self-treat with over the counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen/paracetamol. In most cases, migraine-specific medication and personalized strategies are far more effective.

A range of treatment options are available depending on the severity and frequency of your headaches.

One of the most effective types of medicinal migraine treatments are called the triptans. Ninety-two percent of people from the SAMS study were candidates for triptans, but only 12% were using them.

Triptans require a doctors prescription and can be very useful if headaches are not very frequent. For more severe and frequently recurring cases there are preventative treatment options which help prevent attacks before they occur. There are medicinal and non medicinal preventives which you should explore with your doctor.

A word of caution: migraine overall is poorly managed.

Many people still havent been diagnosed. Fewer receive quality treatment.


Sinus Or Migraine Headache How To Tell The Difference To Get The Proper Urgent Care

Have you got a runny or stuffy nose? Do you feel pain over your cheeks and forehead? You may be wondering to consult your urgent care doctor for sinus headache. Its a right decision but be prepared to possibly figure out that your sinuses are not causing headaches. There can be a good chance that you are having migraine rather than a headache caused by sinusitis infection or seasonal allergies.

Nasal congestion and headaches are also symptoms of migraine. Confusion between a migraine headache and a sinus headache is common as both these types share many similarities. Either way, headaches in any form can cause trouble in our lives. However, identifying the similarities and differences between the two can help you know if you have a migraine or sinus headache, and can help you get the right treatment you need.

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Is There Really A Sinus Migraine

Technically, the answer is no. There are migraines and there are sinus headaches. They are not the same, but some people have coined the phrase sinus migraine to make the distinction that their migraines seem to have a sinus component. They may be familiar enough with migraines that they know the typical symptoms, so they rule it out because their headaches dont fit that mold. The truth is, there are many different types of migraines and headaches and they often have very similar, if not identical, symptoms.

Dr. Ailani explains, Migraine pain can be located in the temples or back of the head, but often is in or around the eye and can, on occasion, be located under the eye, around the nose, and into the jaw. The reason for this is that the nerve that causes facial sensation and sinus sensation and the one that also causes facial and sinus pain, are one and the same, the trigeminal nerve.

She continues, When this nerve is turned on, you can experience pain- which can be all different types such as pulsating, throbbing, pressure, searing, jabbing, tingling, and burning, anywhere in your head and face. This nerve also connects to other nerves at the back of the neck and in the sinuses. When one nerve decides to be turned on, other connected nerves can follow- where there is a party, all like to join in!

What Is A Sinus Headache

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A headache can be one of the symptoms of sinusitis, or inflammation and swelling of the sinuses, possibly caused by an infection or allergy. Sinusitis symptoms can also include facial pain and pressure, nasal drainage, nasal or facial congestion, postnasal drip, cough, and sore throat, according to Dr. Weber.

Some people do actually have true sinus headache, typically caused by nasal septal deviation causing contact or pressure on the nasal walls and headache. This is also called a rhinogenic headache or a contact point headache. Typically, this headache worsens with sinus congestion and improves with relief of congestion, he says.

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Treatment For Migraine Headaches

Migraine can be triggered by certain foods, activities, and other conditions. Over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription drugs, pills, shots, and nasal sprays are some of the treatment options for migraine. These drugs are also used to treat seizure disorder, depression, and heart conditions.

If your symptoms become more severe and more consistent and dont go away with medications and keep you from doing normal activities, you must visit Artisans of Medicine, to get the best consultation from the well-qualified doctors of urgent care in Brooklyn, NYC.

The Most Common Misdiagnosis For Migraine Is This

You guessed it, sinus headache.

According to recently published research, over half of all those with migraine who participated in their study were misdiagnosed. The authors concluded that the under-recognition of migraine constitutes a significant public health problem.

Why are so many people not diagnosed?

There are a number of reasons why an individual with symptoms of migraine report that they havent been diagnosed by a health professional. These include:

  • Migraine patients may not seek medical care for their headaches
  • They may seek care but not receive a diagnosis
  • They may be diagnosed but forget their diagnosis
  • Not seeing a doctor for what they believe to be just a headache
  • Poor patient-physician communication may be a barrier to appropriate care. Diagnosis is complicated as physicians rarely see a patient during a migraine so they must rely on a patients retrospective description of prior symptoms.
  • Consultation lengths may also be a factor which recent research showing consultation lengths may last around 11 minutes on average. This provides little opportunity for patients to communicate the information required to diagnose migraine and initiate appropriate treatment.
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    Talking To Your Doctor About Your Headaches

    Your search for a migraine diagnosis and relief from your headaches usually begins with your primary care provider. He or she may send you to several specialists before you get answers, or you may go directly to a headache specialist or neurologist. In other words, you may find that you are repeating yourself to each new doctor. Dont let this discourage you. Sometimes it takes a little digging and searching to get answers, but it is worth it. Create your own headache file with notes and documentation from doctors visits and tests as well as your migraine diary.

    Dr. Ailani has this advice: Keep track of your headaches, write down when they happen, how long they last, and what symptoms come with the headache.

    She also recommends noting specific characteristics of your headache or migraine by considering these questions:

    • Do you prefer to be in the dark, or in a quiet area with a headache?
    • Do you find your stomach gets upset and smells bother you?
    • Would you prefer to sleep if you could?
    • Do your headaches last several hours or several days?
    • Have your parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, grandparents, and cousins ever had headaches? Migraines tend to run in families, but most families dont discuss this.
    • What have you tried for your headaches? What works or does not work?
    • How have your headaches changed over time?

    Allergy Sinusitis And Sinus Headache Resources

    Headaches and what is causing them.

    There are a number of very good resources available for people suffering from allergies, sinusitis, and sinus headaches:

  • Al-Hashel, J. Y., Ahmed, S. F., Alroughani, R., & Goadsby, P. J. . Migraine misdiagnosis as a sinusitis, a delay that can last for many years. Retrieved from
  • Bono, F., Messina, D., Giliberto, C., Cristiano, D., Broussard, G., Fera, F., . . . Quattrone, A. . Bilateral transverse sinus stenosis predicts IIH without papilledema in patients with migraine. Retrieved from
  • Cady, R. K., & Schreiber, C. P. . Sinus headache or migraine? Retrieved from
  • Chronic sinusitis. . Retrieved from
  • C. . Sinus Headaches. Retrieved from
  • December 62:752-754, J. F., & Author: Christopher Boisselle, MD Richard Guthmann, MD, MPH Kathy Cable, MLS. . What clinical clues differentiate migraine from sinus headaches? Retrieved from
  • ENT Health. . Sinus Headaches.
  • Migraine Symptoms. . Retrieved from
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    What Are The Overlapping Symptoms Of Migraine And Sinus Headache

    Migraine attacks usually include a one-sided headache that is typically moderate to severe, with throbbing and pounding when severe, says Weber.

    Facial pain and headache can occur with a sinus headache, too, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

    Both migraine attacks and sinus headaches can cause watery eyes and a runny nose.

    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. Its a logical conclusion. 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.

    Some people call it a sinus migraine because the symptoms so closely resemble a sinus headache. Allergy migraine is another common term. However, researchers have found that there are distinct differences between a migraine and a sinus headache. In fact, some doctors say that the headaches that many people believe are related to sinus issues are actually migraines.

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    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 Does Migraine Cause Sinus Symptoms

    Is it a Migraine or a Chronic Sinus Headache? Know the Difference

    The reason for this common misdiagnosis of sinus headache is because the trigeminal nerve is the root cause and central to migraine, and it also innervates the sinuses, teeth, TMJ area, and the face. So if the migraine is activated and turned on, not only does the pain of the headache turn on, but so does the discomfort in the sinus areas, TMJ, teeth, along with sinus symptoms. The bottom line, if you get recurrent episodic headaches that have any throbby, pulsating or pounding pain, any nausea, or sensitivity to light and sound during a bad sinus headache, consider it migraine.

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    The Difference Between A Migraine And A Sinus Headache

    You find yourself in bed in the dark, having the worst headache of your life. Naturally, you want to know whats causing this pain so that you may resolve it. Migraines and sinus headaches are similar in that they can both cause severe pain and pressure around the face and head, but their divergent causes lead to different treatment approaches. This guide should help you tell the difference between a migraine and a sinus headache so that you can treat your symptoms correctly.

    How Do You Stop Sinus Headaches

    If youre wondering, why do I keep getting sinus headaches every day and how can I get some relief from my frequent sinus headaches? you have options. For many, sinus problems can be treated effectively with the use of OTC medication and home remedies. Patients whose sinus issues and frequent sinus headaches do not respond well to traditional treatment, however, may wish to seek additional treatment. And one of the safest and easiest treatments available today is balloon sinuplasty.

    Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive, in-office procedure performed at Sinus Solutions of South Florida Dr. Napoleon Bequer, a highly acclaimed ENT of South Florida. The procedure lasts less than 20 minutes and has provided thousands of patients nation-wide with long-lasting sinus relief. The concept of balloon sinuplasty is simple. During the procedure, your doctor inflates a balloon within the sinus cavities, restoring proper sinus drainage.

    No cutting of bone or tissue is involved, and most patients are able to return to regular activities within 24-48 hours.

    Tired of dealing with frequent sinus headaches? Ask your ENT about balloon sinuplasty.

    This 20-minute procedure has proved highly successful at providing long term relief from common chronic sinus problems including sinusitis, allergies, frequent sinus headaches, sleep apnea, and more.

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