Is it a Sinus Headache or a Migraine?
Many people with migraines go for too long without being properly diagnosed because they believe that they are experiencing merely a normal sinus headache. One study found that a whopping 97% of people who described their headaches as sinus headaches were actually experiencing symptoms associated with migraines.
Overlapping Symptoms of Sinus Headaches and Migraines
The problem is that the symptoms of migraine headaches and sinus headaches often overlap, leading to confusion that can be very serious if your migraine goes un-diagnosed. A contributing factor to the confusion is the fact that the same nerves that carry migraine pain also travel to the sinuses. Pain in the sinuses, face or around the eyes can be felt during a migraine on one or both sides of the head. Additionally, nerves that contribute to stuffy or runny nose and watery eyes can be also be activated during a migraine.
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Symptoms and Treatment of Sinus Headaches
Common sinus headache symptoms include pain and pressure around the eyes, an ache in the upper teeth, fever or chills and swelling about the face.
Sinus headaches generally result from a sinus infection or allergies, or else follow hard upon the heels of a cold or the flu. The cause of sinus headaches are an inflammation of the sinus passages, which are the air cavities located behind and above your nose. The increased pressure that results from the closing of the sinuses is what causes the headache. The pain from a sinus headache can be quite severe and can last for an extended period of time. Sinus headaches tend to begin in the morning after waking.
The usual treatment for sinus headaches is antibiotics, but physicians are beginning to question the validity of this approach because of the building up of resistance to antibiotics when taken repeatedly.
Heat and ice can be used to relieve the facial pain associated with sinus headaches. Many doctors recommend hot compresses, hot drinks such as tea or broth and even a steamy shower to relieve sinus headache pain. A cool-mist humidifier can also be of tremendous help in keeping your sinuses moist.
Symptoms and Treatment of Migraine Headaches
Women tend to be more prone to migraine headaches than men. There are two types of migraine headaches: those with aura and migraines without aura. "Aura" refers to a warning sensation that indicates the approach of a migraine. The "aura" experienced by the migraine sufferer differs from person to person. Some may see "flashing lights" or "shooting stars;" others may hear noises, smell odors or fragrances, or feel a tingling sensation in the arms or legs. Common migraine symptoms include pain that is prefaced by visual disturbances, a throbbing on just one side of the head that ranges from mild to extreme, nausea, vomiting, an increased sensitivity to both light and noise.
Migraines require a trigger to get your head to hurting. These triggers are broad in scope and can vary significantly from person to person. Most migraines seem to be triggered by food. The most common food triggers appear to be wine, chocolate, aged cheese, processed meats, Chinese food and caffeine. Other triggers include flashing lights, loud noises, menstruation, intense exercise, weather changes, exposure to smoke or perfumes, lack of sleep, stress, or sex. In addition, some medications such as birth control pills and estrogen replacement therapy have been proven migraine triggers.
Your medical doctor may recommend a drug therapy program for the treatment of your migraine headaches. Drug therapy might include a variety of pain killers, sedatives and specially-prescribed medications.
Problems from Confusing a Migraine Headache with a Sinus Headache
If you're spending a lot of money on medicine specifically marketed -- it not actually designed -- to treat sinus headaches, you'll continue to suffer from migraines. You may be unnecessarily extending the life of your migraines by continuing to eat food triggers or continuing to experience environmental triggers that you should otherwise avoid.
Regardless of how similar they may seem, sinus headaches and migraines are very different. A sinus headache is a headache; a migraine is a disease with symptoms of excruciating head pain. If you are absolutely convinced you are suffering sinus headaches, you should visit a doctor who knows the difference.