What Is A Sinus Migraine
Technically, there is no medical condition known as a sinus migraine. Signs and symptoms of a sinus headache and migraine are easily confused since they overlap.
Nonetheless, many women suffer from a sinus headache – which can involve a fever, thick nasal secretions, or pain and pressure in the face and sinuses – that feels like a migraine, a moderate to severe headache that can make a woman nauseated as well as sensitive to lights and sounds.
As such, sinus headaches that feel like migraines will be referred to as sinus migraines from here on.
What Prescription Medications Treat A Sinus Headache Pain And Pressure
Headaches from allergies can be relieved with a prescription for nasal steroids sprays unless there is a contraindication. This may be helpful along with nasal saline rinses to decrease inflammation within the nasal passages and treat or prevent sinusitis.
If a bacterial infection is suspected, the health-care professional may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection and at the same time make suggestions to treat the underlying inflammation. To establish the diagnosis of acute bacterial rhinosinusitis and the need for antibiotics, your doctor should confirm that symptoms of acute rhinosinusitis have been present for 10 days or are worsening. Symptoms should include pus-like nasal drainage, nasal obstruction, facial pain, or pressure. If the inflammation does not resolve before the antibiotic course is complete, the bacterial infection may recur.
Some Common Symptoms Of Migraine
- Head pain
- Sensitivity to light, sound and smell
- Dizziness, vertigo or a sense of being off balance
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Visual disturbances
- Numbness or tingling in the face or extremities
This list is not an exhaustive list of migraine symptoms. It is just to give you an overview of some of the symptoms that you could be feeling if you are experiencing a sinus headache. Typically a migraine attack will last for approximately 4-72 hours. This is another indicator the head pain that was thought to be sinus related is actually migraine.
On a side note, I am experiencing a migraine attack today that was brought on by a weather system moving through my area and a significant drop in barometric pressure. I have incredible pressure and pain behind my eyes, cheeks, nose and forehead. I am light sensitive and the pain is sort of pulsating lightly. There is congestion in my nose and my eyes are slightly watering while my neck hurts and is very stiff. From long experience, I know this is a migraine attack and I have treated it as such, but with those symptoms, its very easy to see why people reach for sinus medicine instead.
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How Can I Treat A Sinus Migraine
To begin with, most sinus migraines are not caused by a sinus infection and should not be treated with antibiotics.
Women may seek out alternative methods in order to provide relief from sinus migraines. Acupuncture, biofeedback, and further relaxation techniques are acclaimed for helping women monitor any stress that could be triggering dreaded migraines. They may also look into craniosacral therapy and cervical spine alignment to further address any nervous system woes.
Lifestyle changes to reduce inflammation causing sinus migraines include optimizing your diet with antioxidants – berries omega 3 antioxidant herbs like turmeric, rosemary, garlic, and cayenne – to reduce oxidative stress. Also, avoiding triggers – caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, etc. – and setting up a regular sleep routine during periods of significant hormonal fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle, like menses and ovulation, can reduce the amount and severity of headaches.
The aforementioned examples are just a few of the many treatments for headaches and migraines.
What You Can Do Now To Help Relieve Sinus Migraines
Migraines are more common than most people realize they are. They are known to affect approximately 18% of women and approximately 6% of the men in the United States.
These percentages are normally applied to all the other cultures. This adds up to millions of us worldwide. And although this is a relatively high percentage, remember that about half of the migraine headaches, never get diagnosed. I assume these are the very mild ones.
There are 29.6 million chronic sinusitis sufferers in the US alone. Allergies are increasing everyday. I wonder how many of these are misdiagnosed migraines?
When going to your physician, be sure to keep a log, or some notes in a special migraine journal, to help him/her rule out underlying health issues. Many people simply tell their physician that they have been having sinus problems. Because of patient load, the physician may focus on sinus issues and misdiagnose the migraine.
Sinus migraines confuse us all! For some extra help with sinus migraines, you can download the migraine diary and 5 things you can use every day by joining the mailing list.
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What Are The Best Sinus Headache Treatments
If youre suffering from headaches, they could have several different causes, including congestion in your sinuses. You may feel pain and pressure in your face due to sinusitis , and the first step toward effective treatment is an accurate diagnosis.
In this blog, board-certified ear, nose, and throat specialist Dr. Cecil Yeung will explain more about these types of headaches as well as sinus headache treatment.
What Home Remedies Help Soothe Sinus Headache Symptoms
There are a number of self-care measures available to help decrease sinus congestion and promote drainage of the sinuses, providing relief for sinus headache.
- Drink plenty of fluids to help you stay hydrated.
- Breathe humidified air.
- OTC pain medicationssuch as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help control pain.
- such as pseudoephedrine may be useful in promoting drainage of the sinuses. People with high blood pressure or heart conditions should check with their healthcare practitioner before using these medications. A number of over-the-counter decongestant medications are available, either singly or in combination with antihistamines, pain relievers, and/or anti-inflammatory medications.
- are also available that contain decongestant medications, but these should not be used for more than three days, due to the possibility of rebound inflammation, a worsening of the condition once use of the spray has stopped.
- Inhaled steroid preparations are sometimes prescribed to treat allergic sinusitis, and bacterial infections of the sinuses are treated with antibiotics.
- Antihistamines may be useful if allergies such as hay fever are the cause of congestion.
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How Long Do Sinus Headaches Last
Viruses cause most sinus infections. A viral sinus infection typically resolves on its own. Similar to how the common cold clears up by itself, your sinus headache should feel better within about a week. If it doesnt go away, see your healthcare provider. You may have a bacterial or fungal sinus infection that requires medication.
What Is A Sinus Headache And What Causes Them
Most often, a true sinus headache stems from a viral infection or a condition called sinusitis, says Clifford Bassett, MD, a New York-based allergist and spokesperson for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Sinusitis is a result of inflammation in the tissue that lines your sinuses, which are air-filled cavities in your forehead, cheekbones, and behind the bridge of your nose. Pain in those areas is essentially what is labeled as a “sinus headache.”
But here’s the thing: Migraines are actually frequently misdiagnosed as sinus headaches, says Isaac Namdar, MD, an otolaryngologist at Mount Sinai West in New Yorkwhich means the only true way determine whether or not you have a sinus headache or a migraine is to get checked out by a doctor, specifically an allergist or an otolaryngologist. This can happen through a physical exam or doctors can also get a look at your sinuses through a nasal endoscopy.
Another misconception: Sinus headaches are often associated with allergies, and they shouldnt be, says Dr. Bassett. It is not a symptom in general due to seasonal and/or year-round allergies.
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Massage The Pain Away
A regular massage may seem like a luxury, but when a migraine strikes, it can be the best way to relive all that’s built up in your head.
Learn how to give yourself a calming and pain relieving massage, and you can prevent your migraines from growing worse, quickly. As you stretch and massage both the neck and the base of the scalp, you will stimulate blood flow and relaxation, sending the pain away from your head.
Check out Theory & Practice of Therapeutic Massage for more on how to relieve the pain of headaches and migraines through massage.
Image via Shutterstock
What Is A Sinus Headache
A sinus headache is caused by swelling and pressure in your sinuses. These air-filled cavities usually allow mucus to freely drain and air to easily circulate throughout the nasal passages. When they become inflamed, however, mucus becomes trapped and isnt able to properly drain. This condition is known as sinusitis, and it can be caused several things, including a cold, flu, or allergies.
As pressure builds up, it causes pain that feels like a headache.
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Okay Well What Does A Sinus Headache Feel Like
Again, because of the placement of your sinuses, the pain is above the eyes, between the eyes, or over the cheekbones, says Dr. Namdar. In addition to that pain, patients might also feel tenderness over the affected sinuses, says Dr. Bassett. More symptoms of sinus headaches include Additionally, post-nasal drainage, congestion, discharge, as well as oral, facial or dental pain can occur with an infection, such as sinusitis, Dr. Bassett adds.
And, interestingly, the severity of a sinus headache might differ depending on the time of day. Some sufferers suggest their headache may be more significant earlier in the day (perhaps due to collection of mucus from during the nighttime, says Dr. Bassett.
If you don’t have a runny nose, fever, bad breath , you’re likely suffering from a migraine rather than a sinus headache, per the American Migraine Foundation.
Irrigate To Relieve Sinus Pressure
“Salt water irrigation is the best way to cleanse the nose and sinuses this can help prevent or relieve sinus pain. You can use an over-the-counter saline nasal spray, but I recommend using a sinus rinse bottle, neti pot, or bulb syringe irrigation kit that you can get at the drugstore,” advises Das.
Try this commonly-used, easy-to-make nasal irrigation solution with your own sinus irrigation kit: Fill a clean 8-ounce glass with distilled or sterilized lukewarm water. Do not use tap water unless it has been boiled for at least 1 minute . Add 1/2 teaspoon of non-iodized salt and a pinch of baking soda. And be sure to clean all equipment and make a fresh batch of solution each time you use your kit.
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Are Sinus Headache And Migraine Easily Confused
Yes, they are according to the research. The pattern of migraine pain is different for individual patients. While the most easily recognized migraine headaches are localized to one side of the head, many patients feel pain or pressure on both sides, or in the neck or sinuses. This is because all of these areas are innervated by branches of the nerve that are most involved in migraine. For patients with sinus symptoms the most frequent patterns of pain and pressure are across the forehead and behind the eyes, but any sinus area or combination is possible.
A study called SAMS recruited the first 100 people to respond to their local ad. The ad asked those to come forward who believed they had sinus headache. Each participant was carefully examined in a 90-minute evaluation and imaging tests were conducted.
The findings showed that most of them had been wrongly diagnosed and in fact had a diagnosis of migraine.
Treatment For Sinus Pain
If you have pain thats caused by sinusitis, the following self-care measures may help ease your symptoms:
- Inhaling steam.Inhaling steamy air may help loosen mucus and ease inflammation. You can do this by draping a towel over your head and leaning over a bowl of warm water. Standing in a warm, steamy shower may also help.
- Using a nasal wash. A nasal wash is a saline solution and helps to flush out your sinuses. You can buy saline washes over-the-counter or make your own at home.
- Taking OTC medications. Various OTC medications may help relieve symptoms like pain, inflammation, and sinus congestion:
- pain medications like ibuprofen , naproxen , and acetaminophen
- nasal decongestants, such as Sudafed and Mucinex Sinus Max
- nasal corticosteroids like Flonase and Nasacort
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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.
IF YOU HAVE MIGRAINE DO THIS NEXT BEFORE THINGS GET WORSE
Why Are So Many Undiagnosed
Nearly half of those affected by migraine are never diagnosed. Some patients will not see their doctor for what they deem to be just a headache, especially when it is responding to over the counter medications. However, the number of patients transitioning from episodic migraine to chronic migraine is 3% each year. Understanding the type of headache present is key to getting proper treatment and avoiding this transformation to chronic migraine.
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Sinusitis And Sinus Headaches
What most people dont realize is that true sinus headaches are actually quite uncommon and are often over diagnosed or misdiagnosed. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses, often due to a bacterial infection. The sinuses are air pockets that are situated at certain points in the facial bones. Scientists are not certain the exact purpose of sinuses. Some believe that it helps enhance the voice through resonation while others believe it may be a way for the body to humidify the air during inhalation. They are usually empty but do have a very thin mucus layer along the walls.
There are four pairs of paranasal sinuses, meaning that there are two at the same points on the left and right. They are:
- Frontal sinuses: above the eyes just over the eyebrows
- Maxillary sinuses: on each side of the nose, in the cheekbone
- Ethmoid sinuses: between the eyes, under the bridge of the nose
- Sphenoid sinuses: behind the eyes and ethmoid sinuses
Inflammation of the sinuses can occur due to bacterial, viral, or fungal causes and can present in one of the sinus pair, or several. If there is an infection present, it is important that it is treated. Failure to properly treat a sinus infection can cause serious health risks and can create a propensity to develop sinus infections in the future.
Cayenne Pepper In Warm Water
The compound in cayenne that makes it spicy, called capsaicin, dulls one of the neurotransmitters responsible for sending pain signals to the brain. Some studies show that it can relieve cluster headaches or migraines, especially when applied directly to the skin. Drinking cayenne may help, too, so try sprinkling a little bit in warm water next time you feel a migraine coming on.
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Spice Up Your Diet To Ease Sinus Pressure
“Many people find that spicy food like peppers or hot mustard opens up their nasal passages and gives them some relief from sinus pain. There is good evidence that capsaicin, which is the active ingredient found in chile peppers, is effective in relieving some types of pain,” says Das. Capsaicin preparations have been investigated for the treatment of some facial pain syndromes and of rhinitis with promising results. But if you have the taste for them, you can try spicy foods to help with sinus discomfort.
What Are The Treatment Options
Your primary care provider, or a neurologist, can provide recommendations for treating your headaches based on their severity and frequency, and can rule out more serious causes of your headache. Treatment for migraines includes both over-the-counter and prescription medications and preventative medications for patients with severe or frequent headaches, or if headaches are present for more than 15 days per month.
Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also be associated with rebound headaches or medication-overuse headaches if taken too often. Tell your doctor how often you take pain medications for headaches. Avoid triggers, and talk to your doctor about your sleep habits. Keep a headache diary to record your headache symptoms, triggers, and treatments.
Sinus headaches caused by migraines or tension headaches should not be treated with antibiotics. Because there are similar symptoms between acute sinusitis and migraine headaches with nasal and sinus symptoms, it can be difficult to tell if your symptoms are truly a sinus infection. Sinus pain and pressure without discolored nasal discharge is most likely not a sinus infection. If you have been diagnosed with frequent sinus infections and have been treated with repeated episodes of antibiotics without improvement, migraines or tension headaches could be causing your sinus pain and pressure.
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