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Can You Get Migraines From Allergies

What Is An Allergy Headache

Headache due to cold and cough | Headache due to allergy | Headache remedies

An allergy headache is harder to define than you might think, and there is no formal definition, according to the National Headache Foundation. In fact, the relationship between allergies and headaches can be a bit murky.

For example, people who have migraines often blame certain foods, but the chemicals that evoke headaches are a bodily function, not an allergic reaction. Others who have hay fever might blame ragweed for their headaches, but those symptoms show up in the nose, throat, eyes, and ears and don’t necessarily cause headaches in everyone.

“You will notice headache isn’t a major symptom of environmental allergies,” says Wade Cooper, DO, and director of the Headache and Neuropathic Pain Program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

However, there are two types of headaches that are linked to allergies: migraines and sinus headaches.

There are many types of headaches, and each type can result in pain in specific areas. For example, a tension headache feels like your entire head is wrapped in pain, whereas the pain from an allergy-induced headache is typically on the top of your head and face.

“Environmental allergies may trigger a migraine headache, which may give people the sense that they have a true allergy headache,” Dr. Cooper says. And some people blame their sinuses.

However, the majority of patients don’t have sinus inflammation.

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
  • Wheat
  • Yeast

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.

Papers Of Particular Interest Published Recently Have Been Highlighted As: Of Importance

This review article reveals opportunities to improve the diagnosis and management of allergic rhinitis through a new multidisciplinary, evidence-based clinical practice guideline. The consensus was created by a multidisciplinary panel of experts in otolaryngology, allergy and immunology, internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, sleep medicine, advanced pediatric nursing, and complementary, and integrative medicine; however, the neurologic point of view is absentThe AMPP Study is a longitudinal, population-based study of individuals from the USA with severe headache. The study started in 2004, when headache questionnaires were mailed to 120,000 households . During phase 2, 24,000 people with severe headaches were selected to complete surveys once a year from 2005 to 2009. From this study, we have learned about the prevalence of migraine and chronic migraine, the comorbidities of migraine, the level of disability, the burden and costs, and the treatments used by patients

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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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Preventing Food Related Headaches

Allergy headaches? If you have a sinus headache along with ...

Preventing food allergy headaches can be as simple as avoiding specific trigger foods once you figure out what your triggers are. But some triggers are difficult to avoid because they are found in most processed foods, this can also make those triggers difficult to find.;;

If youre having difficulty finding your trigger foods, it may be time to;talk to a headache specialist at a;headache treatment clinic;to learn more about how to;prevent headaches caused from allergies. Contact the National Headache Institute for more information on our;cutting-edge treatments including;stem cell treatment. Call today;to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations.

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Allergy Headache Symptoms And Location

As mentioned, an allergy-induced headache might cause pain on the top of your head and on your face.

And because it’s allergy-related, you might also have some pollen allergy symptoms at the same time, such as a runny nose or stuffy nose and itchy or watery eyes.

Since allergy-induced headaches are primarily associated with migraines and sinuses, you’re probably going to have symptoms related to those, too.

Let’s break down the symptoms of migraines and sinusitis to help you determine which one may be related to an allergy headache.

Allergies Might Be The Reason For Your Migraine

Allergy season got you down? Flowers are blooming outside, but youre stuck indoors combatting a runny nose. Seasonal allergies and hay fever are quite common, with approximately one in five people in the U.S. experiencing symptoms of these allergies. 1, 2 Such allergies can sometimes be accompanied by headaches and migraines and often, the symptoms are similar. People who have seasonal allergies are more likely to also experience migraine headaches, and many suffer from both conditions at the same time. 2, 3 Additionally, studies have demonstrated that seasonal allergy sufferers are reported to be 4 to 14 times more likely to experience migraine headaches than those without allergies. 4, 5, 6, 7

Both seasonal allergies and migraines may arise due to similar situations such as weather changes or other seasonal migraine triggers. 3 For example, some individuals may be particularly sensitive to ragweed pollen and other fall migraine triggers, while others may be more affected during the spring and summer months, when even the perfume of flowers or other intense smells may trigger migraine headaches. 3

Migraines and seasonal allergies can affect the same parts of the body such as the forehead, the nose and the areas between, behind and around the eyes. 3

One way to help determine if seasonal allergy symptoms actually suggest a migraine headache, or may trigger your headaches, is to keep a migraine diary and share it with your doctor.


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Can Allergies Cause Headaches

If you’re having miserable hay fever symptoms and your head also hurts, it’s plausible to assume you could have an allergy headache. After all, a drippy nose, sneezing fits, and itchy eyes are stressful enough to give anyone a headache.

But are allergies really to blame for your headache? Since headaches happen for all sorts of reasons, it can be tough to know whether your pain is necessarily due to a particularly nasty ragweed season or something else.

Whatever the cause, you just want to do whatever it takes to feel better fast so you can get on with your day.

Here’s what you need to know about allergies and headaches and how to get rid of them.

How Do I Treat Migraine Attacks Triggered By Food

How To Relieve A Sinus Headache

Treatment methods for other types of migraine headaches may provide some relief for food-related ones as well. Some options include prescription medications, injections, and migraine devices like Nerivio or gammaCore, some of which can provide fast relief. Of course, itâs always best to discuss treatment plans with your doctorâeveryone is different!

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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.

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.

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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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Home Remedies For Migraine

Can You Get A Headache From Allergies?

Headaches and migraines can have several different causes, right from allergies, to digestive issues or even high blood pressure. Finding out the underlying cause of the headache is important so that it can be treated accordingly. Meanwhile, you can try these home remedies for headaches to provide relief from the pain.

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Is It A Migraine Or An Allergy Migraine

Theres a little confusion here, and thats understandable. First, migraines can cause watery eyes, stuffiness, and facial fullness, Dr. Cooper says, symptoms that often lead people to assume they have allergies.

That said, if you have known allergies and also experience migraines, the two might be related, Dr. Cooper adds, because allergy and migraine use some of the same pathways to cause symptoms in your body.

Medications That Can Make A Migraine Worse

It might be unrelated treatments that are triggering your migraine.

With Dr. Andrew Charles, MD

Migraine is a systemic, neurological issue. While the condition starts in the brain, it involves and is influenced by other body systems as well. While environmental triggers such as stress and caffeine are commonly discussed, few tend to consider how medications for unrelated and seemingly harmless conditions can also contribute to these headache attacks.

According to Dr. Andrew Charles, MD, director of Headache Research and Treatment and a professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles, medication is a common problem seen by headache and non-headache doctors alike. Any medication is on the table as a possible exacerbator of migraineyou have to always consider even something that may seem innocuous as a potential contributor, he said as part of a presentation at the virtual 2018 World Migraine Summit.

Below are descriptions of six medications that, despite little clinical evidence to prove they cause migraines, have been noted in practice by Dr. Charles as plausible triggers.

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Which Allergies Cause Headaches

Here are some of the common allergies that can lead to headaches:

  • Allergic rhinitis . If you have a headache along with seasonal and indoor nasal allergies, its more likely due to a migraine headache rather than allergies. But pain related to hay fever or other allergic reactions may cause headaches due to sinus disease. A true sinus headache is actually quite rare.
  • Food allergies. There can be a relationship between food and headaches. For example, foods like aged cheese, artificial sweeteners, and chocolate can trigger a migraine in some people. Experts believe its the chemical properties of certain foods that trigger the pain, as opposed to a true food allergy.
  • Histamine. The body produces histamines in response to an allergic reaction. Among other things, histamines decrease blood pressure . This can result in headache.

Treat an allergy headache the same way that youd deal with any other headache. If allergies are the source of the headache, there are ways to address the root cause.

Allergies Could Trigger Migraine Attack In A Few Different Ways

How to Treat Migraines & Head Colds : How to Help a Sinus Headache

It makes sense that allergies could trigger an attack in people who are predisposed to migraine, says Hamilton. If you’re having a lot of allergic symptoms, and you’re having a lot of inflammation in the body, that could make you more prone to migraine attacks in general, she says.

Some experts believe that the histamine release that happens during allergic reactions can potentially also play a role in migraine, she says. There are potential mechanisms that could explain an increased propensity for migraine when you’re having seasonal allergies, says Hamilton.

Histamine is a chemical found in some cells that can be released when a person is allergic to something, and it causes many of the symptoms of allergies. Histamine release may be involved in triggering a headache, specifically migraine, according an article published in March 2019 in The Journal of Headache and Pain.

Allergies may indirectly contribute to migraine by disrupting sleep, says Strauss. If youre very uncomfortable from all this congestion and postnasal drip, that could even be a trigger for headache, she says.

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Symptoms Of A Sinus Headache

Sinus headaches resemble migraines. However, they are accompanied by:

  • Nasal discharge that is colored
  • Possible fever
  • Headaches that occur over the sinuses
  • Abnormal x-ray or CT scan of the sinuses

Sinus headaches usually disappear after being treated for sinusitis. So if you believe you have sinusitis, contact our allergists for same-day diagnosis and treatment.

How Do You Know The Difference Between A Migraine Headache And A Sinus Headache

Since there is some overlap between migraine symptoms and allergy symptoms, it can be tough to get a diagnosis and find the right treatment.

Dr. Crystal points out, âBoth can present similar symptomsâpain over the forehead and maxillary area , and autonomic symptoms, such as eye tearing and nasal congestion.â

If you have watery eyes, a stuffy nose, and a bad headache, it might be easy to assume that youâre dealing with allergies and a sinus headacheâbut it could actually be a migraine.

Itâs common to mistake the headache that comes along with your allergies as a sinus headache, Dr. Crystal says.

One study found that the majority of patients who had self-diagnosed with sinus headaches actually had migraine. In another study, 88% of patients who thought they had sinus headaches were dealing with migraine.

That said, sinus headaches are actually rare, and there are some obvious differences between sinus headaches and migraines.

Sinus headaches bring on distinctive symptoms youâre unlikely to get with allergies or migraine, such as bad breath, fever, or discolored nasal discharge. They also tend to be caused by an infection, not something that crops up every time your allergies flare.

In addition, migraine headache pain is usually âunilateral and throbbing,â whereas a headache due simply to allergic rhinitis might be âdull and pressure-like,â says Dr. Crystal.

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Allergies 101: What Are Allergies

First off, letâs talk about allergies. Youâre probably familiar with some of the common symptoms, like a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes. But, what exactly happens to your body when you get allergies?

According to Cove Medical Director and migraine expert Dr. Sara Crystal, âAn allergy is a hypersensitive reaction to a substance that would not cause symptoms in the majority of people.â

Just like migraines, allergies have triggers. Seasonal allergies, also known as âhay fever,â are triggered by pollen in the air, often in spring and fall. Perennial allergies are similar, except they occur year-round. They are triggered by other things in the air, like mold, pet dander, or dust mites.

Doctors have a term for both seasonal allergies and perennial allergies: allergic rhinitis.


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