If you’ve tried several over the counter sinus medications to relieve your sinus headaches with no luck there may be a good reason.
Nine in 10 people with “sinus headache” are actually suffering from migraine according to a Sinus Allergy & Migraine Study (SAMS) shown at the 46th Annual Scientific Meeting held by the American Headache Society. (1)
Lead investigator Dr. Eric Eross, associate consultant in Neurology at the Mayo Clinic explains “it’s not surprising people are convinced they have sinus headaches, because they often have nasal congestion, pressure or pain in the forehead or just below the eyes, and red or puffy eyes”.
What are sinus headaches?
‘Real’ sinus headaches are almost always from a sinus infection. Sinus infections are common with 10% to 30% of the population experiencing at least one sinus infection each year. (2)
Sinus infections are also known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis. This occurs when the sinus becomes inflamed. Common symptoms include thick nasal mucous, blocked nose and facial pain. (2) Sinus infections may be caused by an infection, allergy or air pollution. Most cases are due to viral infection. (3) Infections are often transmitted through coughing, sneezing, kissing, contact with contaminated surfaces, food or water or contact with infected animals or pets.
To understand how sinus headaches are confused with migraine it’s important to know what migraine is.
What is a migraine attack?
Migraine is a common primary headache disorder (4). In essence they are the result of a neurological malfunction that is thought to originate in the brain stem. Medical scientists and researchers still aren’t exactly sure what causes a migraine attack.
Leading theories relate to hyperexcitability within certain areas of the brain or a disorder from the brain stem which triggers the migraine attack.
The brain stem is a small but extremely important part of the brain. It allows the nerve connections of the motor and sensory system to pass from the brain to the body. This controls bodily sensations and movement.
At the start of an attack, chemical changes are thought to develop in the brainstem which triggers a series of reactions causing the brain to respond abnormally to otherwise normal signals. The result from this hypersensitive response could be migraine. (5)
Interestingly, at least 50% of people who experience migraine still have not been diagnosed. (6)
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. (7) 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 haven’t 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 patient’s 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. (8)
- Symptom response to over the counter medications usually used for problems other than migraine headache can reinforce a patient’s impression that they have identified the cause of their headache. In the case of sinus headache common decongestants used for congestion may be taken, but they are also effective in reducing sinus headache pain. Patients may think they are treating their sinuses but are actually treating underlying migraine that they feel in the sinuses. (9)
Are sinus headache and migraine easily confused?
Yes, they are according to the research. (1) 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.
Are these your symptoms?
From those patients confirmed with a migraine diagnosis in the study:
- 83% noticed the weather affected their headaches
- 73% noticed seasonal variations in their headaches
- 62% said their headaches were triggered by allergies
- 56% had nasal congestion
- 38% noticed altitude had an effect on their headaches
- 37% had eyelid puffiness
- 25% had a runny nose
- 22% had red eyes
- 19% had watery eyes
You could be forgiven for thinking these symptoms are sinus related. They look a lot like the symptoms you might expect from a sinus infection so it’s no surprise that there is a significant amount of confusion between sinus headache and migraine.
Results found that 9 out of 10 patients in the study had migraine, not sinus headache.
Furthermore, the 100 patients from the study had seen an average of 4 physicians each and had gone on average 25 years without the correct diagnosis or significant relief.
That’s 25 years without significant relief and 4 physicians who had gotten the diagnosis wrong!
The lead investigator of the SAMS study Dr. Eross says “It was hard to convince some of them that they actually suffered from migraine headaches,” said Dr. Eross. “Many were shocked.”
One in ten people from the study knew they had migraine, but thought they had sinus headaches in addition. In reality they actually suffered two different types of migraine, one with sinus symptoms and one without, Dr. Eross noted.
“Much of the pain or pressure is in the face, on both sides, so it doesn’t occur to them that this might be a migraine.” – Dr Eross
How do you know if you have sinus headache or migraine?
Listing all the symptoms separately can be confusing and is perhaps why so many sinus headache sufferers have not been correctly diagnosed.
Instead, below are the key symptoms side by side, Sinus Headache vs Migraine, in an easy to follow checklist so you can quickly find out the truth.
If you’re not experiencing fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a persistent green or yellow nasal discharge and you have a headache in the sinus area, then you likely have migraine. (1) It is difficult for doctors of patients with migraine and sinus symptoms to acknowledge that a CT scan of their sinuses looks normal and does not show the inflammation, fluid or swelling they would expect after years of rhinosinusitis. Patients and their doctors often fall into the trap of believing that they are nipping sinus infections in the bud with frequent antibiotics and that is why they never get infected drainage.
Take a moment to digest. Most people from the study who were told this rejected the finding at first. They had been told by on average by 4 doctors that it was their sinus. They had also been wrongly diagnosed for an average of 25 years…
I know what it is… now what?
Once you understand the checklist you’ll have a much better idea of which category you fall into. Of course, you’ll 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 it’s 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 doctor’s 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.
To start, keep a migraine diary which keeps an accurate record for you and your doctor of your attacks, potential triggers, and symptoms. This is a good starting point to inform which treatment strategy will likely deliver the best results for you.
A word of caution: migraine overall is poorly managed.
Many people still haven’t been diagnosed. Fewer receive quality treatment.
Do you have sinus headaches which fit the criteria for migraine? Let me know in the comments below.
IF YOU HAVE MIGRAINE DO THIS NEXT BEFORE THINGS GET WORSE
General physicians are not well trained in headache and often only know of a few outdated drugs. Discover the essential next steps you need to know to enjoy a full and happy life despite migraine. For a limited time, we are emailing a free copy of this one-page checklist to every reader.
1) Eross, Eric, David Dodick, and Michael Eross. “The sinus, allergy and migraine study (SAMS).” Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain 47.2 (2007): 213-224.
2) Rosenfeld, RM; Piccirillo, JF; Chandrasekhar, SS; Brook, I; Ashok Kumar, K; Kramper, M; Orlandi, RR; Palmer, JN; Patel, ZM; Peters, A; Walsh, SA; Corrigan, MD (April 2015). “Clinical practice guideline (update): adult sinusitis executive summary.”. Otolaryngology–head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery 152 (4): 598–609.doi:10.1177/0194599815574247. PMID 25833927.
3) “Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)”. cdc.gov. September 30, 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
4) World Health Organisation & Lifting the Burden. “ATLAS of Headache Disorders And Resources in the World 2011”. Report, 2011.
5) Akerman, S. Holland PR. Goadsby PJ. “Diencephalic And Brainstem Mechanism In Migraine”. Neuroscience, Sept 2011.
6) Pavone E. et.al. “Patterns Of Triptans Use: A Study Based On The Records Of A Community Pharmaceutical Department”. Cephalalgia, Sept 2007.
7) Lipton, Richard B., et al. “Migraine diagnosis and treatment: results from the American Migraine Study II.” Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain41.7 (2001): 638-645.
8) Lipton, R., et al. “Communication patterns in physician and chronic migraine patient dialogues during routine office visits.” Cephalagia. 2015.
9) Dr. Michael Texido. Medical review of ‘Why Your Sinus Headache Is Almost Definately A Migraine’.
Hi,I have been diagnosed with chronic sinusitis,no medication works anymore and I’ve had a constant headache every day all day for the past 4 years now,my quality of life has become unbearable these days and I’m on the waiting list to see a specialist but that’s over a year ago now and no closer to getting an appointment.
You must use aloe vera on the sinuses and forehead http://youtu.be/GAXouFChRB4
I am a religious Neti Pot user…. and a doctor recommended mixing Colloidal Silver with the solution and using that for a few weeks. I was skeptic but was in pain and was willing to try anything… no lie when I say it took a few days but lessened the severity and duration of a typical infection. I now have added this to my regimen to help fight any looming infections! Worth a shot!
I wonder how much Colloidal Silver to use in the Neti Pot
Try vegan diet sure u will get relief.
Jason that sounds awful sorry to hear that. Hopefully this articles confirms or rules out migraine and you get closer to finding a solution! I wish you only the best. I’ve heard that actually some minor surgeries for Sinus can be quite successful if it is genuine sinusitis… Dr Paul Mathew recently discussed these at the Migraine World Summit.
I just started going to a Neurologist a few months ago to start trying some preventative medications for my migraines. I wouldn’t classify myself as having chronic migraines, but this last month I have been having migraines with sinus symptoms pretty much every week. It’s been hell! I usually get a ‘classic’ migraine, with a sinus migraine thrown in every once in a while when the weather isn’t cooperating, but with this weather going crazy right now, my head is NOT HAPPY!
I’m going back for another follow up next month to try something new since topomax clearly ins’t working!
Is there anything you know of besides drugs to help lessen the pain of a sinus migraine when you feel one coming on? For instance, this morning I could definitely tell I was getting one as I was dizzy and could feel some pressure.
Hi Kerriann, I would consider your sinus issues essentially a migraine issue. Sinus just happens to be one of your symptoms and potentially a trigger with the weather. Similarly, it’s also common for people to experience migraines more frequently when they have a cold.
The good news is that there are many non medicinal things that can help lesson the pain of an acute attack. If you visit http://www.migraineworldsummit.com and opt-in for the tools resource on that page. You’ll receive 102 non medicinal migraine tools which include treating acute migraine attacks. That’s the best resource I know of.
This is assuming you read this 3 years in the future. 🙂
I went to the website you listed but there is no tools resource on their site. Would happen to have those?
Hi Mark, I do check actually 🙂 I’ve emailed you.
I’d be interested in this too Carl. My daughter has been to ENT and called many times since January with continued pain. She has been on 3 rounds of antibiotics. He just did a CT Scan and her sinuses look fine so he thinks Migraine. Would be interested in those tools. We are being referred to a neurologist.
Hi Lisa, you have just been emailed with the details as well.
Could you please send me this list too? Thank you!
Hello Carl, please im also interested. i’ ve been having this migraine for a while now. Sometimes i wake up to have headache. It is as if my head have been working too much and i need to relax the brain but i dont know how to go about it.
Hi Carl, I would appreciate it if you could email the list to me also. I have been trying to get answers for my daughter for a few years. She is prone to migraines since she was 5 (now 17) but in the last few years her main issue has been sinus pain that then goes into her head. We’ve been to a few ENT’s, her CT scan is fine. We are now going to go back to her neurologist from when she was younger, and we are seeing a specialist who handles headaches and facial pain. I would love to see what your list has to offer. Thank you!
I’m not sure if my symptoms are related to this post but I’m at my wits end looking for an answer and I’m kind of thinking I finally found it.
I’ve been taking Topamax for several years for headaches – I’m currently taking 100mg (once daily which ik isn’t a large dose) which has really helped keep my headaches at bay! Before taking Topamax I had headaches every single day all day so in that aspect Topamax has helped me a great deal!!! However, I am suffering from sinus infections alot and this last one will not go away! It has been on and off for about 4 months. I’ve been on several rounds of antibiotics and steroids and I’m supposed to see an ENT but reading different articles has made me wonder if the Topamax could be the problem??? (My drainage is awful! It’s thick mucous I can feel going down the back of my throat, like a giant string and if you pull it out you can feel it tingling everywhere its interwoven – thru my nose, my eyes, my throat, etc. I have “eye boogies” (sometimes different colors but mostly white now) and I am constantly picking them out. (This is actually worse than it sounds! They are like strings of mucous and I wash my eyes out with solution and then there are so many little “eye boogies” that I pull them out one by one. My eyes begin to get redder and redder and hurt, but if I don’t get them out they drive me nuts cuz they get on my contacts and I can’t see correctly). Yes I’m leaving alot of details out but trying to give you the general idea. Oh! As I pull out the “eye boogies” I can feel the sensation throughout my body – like pins and needles – so ik when I’ve gotten them all.
So basically I just really wanted to know if anyone else has had any similar problems and takes Topamax? Could stopping Topamax fix this??? I’m so sick of this junk! Thanks!!!
Hi Wendy, I’ve written an article about Topamax on the website. You might find some answers there.
Hi Carl, I’d love to see what info you have to help with these chronic “sinus” migraine headaches I’ve been having. I also have a ton of pressure in my ears and feel like I have to “pop” or clear my ears frequently but haven’t seen much on these two symptoms being related. Have you ever heard of this before? I have zero runny nose or mucus buildup
Hi Devin, the ear feeds into the trigeminal nerve which could potentially trigger off a migraine attack. Ear pressure could act as a “stressor” feeding into the trigeminal nerve and feeding migraine attacks. This may or may not be a trigger in others. It really depends and its very individual. It can also change over time in the same individual. If you can’t address your constant ear issues then consider other “stressors” that may be feeding your attacks and seek to address those. On the other side of elimination of potential stressors, is increasing your resilience through medications, lifestyle and behavioral changes. I hope that helps.
I would like a copy if your tools not sure where I’m at had constant headache for 6 weeksmostly right side ,temple and above and under eyebrow had a CT scan of sinuses was clear had numerous antibiotics Can migraine last this long??? Get very tired in the late afternoon and it gets worse
could you send me this information as well. I am a longstanding migraine sufferer. have tried everything out there. currently taking Topamax. Botox… but also have sinus and allergy issues year round. thankyou, Noelle
I’d love some of these resources as well! I’ve had sinus issues for years but recently started having more headaches with what I thought was sinus pressure and turns out they are migraines. Really trying to get a handle on them!
Just sent Amanda.
Have had sinus issues for over 30 years. Went to a new doctor recently who referred me to a new ENT. He ran tests, cat scans and advised me that my symptoms are not sinus related. My sinuses were healthy. He said he believe I have migraines. I am shocked and still in disbelief. I am seeing a neurologist now.
It is shocking. When researchers spoke to the patients who underwent this study, they didn’t believe it either. It took some convincing but when you get a good treatment the results speak for themselves. If only more people with sinus headache knew. Good luck at the neurologist K Thomas.
Hi Carl, I’m from the uk and have suffered from persistent pressure in my head, face, nose, throat and ears for nearly 15 weeks. I have had scans and been on so many antibiotics still with no relief. I’m waiting to see a neurologist as my doctors things it’s some kind of chronic migraine. It’s so awful. I have even tried migraine prevention drugs amitriptyline with no help.
I have had triptans on days when it’s so bad and they do work but I can’t take them constantly everyday.
It’s super worrying and I’m so over it.
Can you send me the info too please
Hi Sarah, amitriptyline is just one of the many preventive medications you can use for migraine. I’d encourage you to do some more digging on these options. Not treatment works for everyone. But there is definitely hope especially since the triptans do help.
Hi Karl, me again…….. still waiting for my appointment with the headache clinic and neurologist! Tried many more meds…currently trying Nortriptiline!
I have changed my whole lifestyle, kept diary’s ect… things bloody pressure in my nose and throat is awful, I’ve started with headaches and running eyes too!
I have both issues. I will get a migraine from having a sinus infection. I believe that sinus inflammation is at the root of all migraines. Things that inflame the sinuses cause migraines. I’m 63 and have had migraines since I was in my late 20’s. I have food allergies and when I eat something that makes my heart pound it makes my head pound. If I take a huge amount of magnesium which speeds up the intestinal tract, my migraines don’t last as long or the severity will be less.
Some people go a step further and believe that inflammation is at the root of migraine itself. I certainly think you are onto something there and you can certainly have both feeding off each other. Great to hear your getting results from magnesium.
Hi Carl could you please send me the link also?
I’ve been sick with a sinus cold for a few days now and my forehead and back of head by neck are in excruciating pain. I’ve taken mucinex and aleve d and have been doing the Neti pot and Flonase. Nothing has worked. Do you have any suggestions?
Sorry to hear about your cold Brooke. If you’ve read the article then I would take what you suspect you have to your personal doctor who can give you some medical advice.
You probably already know that there is no cure for the common cold. Those treatments listed simply help provide relief from symptoms so you can rest. In the meantime, get as much good sleep as you can, rest and drink plenty of water to help your body heal itself. Sometimes supplementation of zinc, vitamin C etc. can also shorten the duration of the cold. Good luck!
I get several bad bouts of what I thought was Sinusitis. Commonly these last up to a week. I am currently on day 3 of another, I neither have much discharge, fever swollen nodes or light sensitivity. I have had some nausea but as I have been taking so many over the counter medicines and remedies this could be the cause. I do commonly have severe ear pain, popping and a wrap around headache, which includes the neck, throat and most severely top of the spine. Does this fit either diagnosis ?
Hi Bryalie, I’m not a doctor so I cannot provide a diagnosis unfortunately. I would suggest seeing a headache specialist to help you confirm your diagnosis. The sources listed at the end of the article may provide some further reading to help you better understand your symptoms.
Try pseudoephedrine. It’ll helped take the pressure away and give some relief.
I recently started getting sinus pressure starting in between my eyes and radiating out to the rest of my face and ears very quickly. The pressure is intense, to the point that my hearing is muffled and my teeth hurt. I had my first one about 3 weeks ago, and since then have had 3 more. Not photophobic or motion sensitive during the attacks, though I do get generally nauseous and vomit. I have no other sinusitis/migraine symptoms. Would you consider that to be under the migraine umbrella?
Hi Emmalynn, for that kind of a diagnosis your best to see a doctor who knows what to ask to effectively seperate sinusitis from migraine (as some doctors do not).
Severe pain can cause nausea and vomiting so it could be a painful sinus infection/inflammation triggered by environmental factors. Or it could be migraine. To find out for sure you really need to be asked many more questions and be medically evaluated.
Catch it early and get good treatment!
I was diagnosed by ent with migraines. However, I have moderate severe mucosal thickening of sinus and I have severe allergies for which I am beginning weekly injections. Isn’t that more likely sinus issues? I don’t get horrible headaches…I was just feeling poorly
Hi Regina, you’ll want to have your doctor confirm a diagnosis so you can properly treat your symptoms. It is possible to have both sinus issues and migraine. It’s also possible to have migraine without headache. It’s also possible for allergies to trigger migraine.
It may be more likely that your symptoms are genuinely sinus related and not migraine but you want to be sure for the reasons I mentioned in the comment above to Emmalynn. Take care.
I have both. Severe allergies, used to take allergy shots, had chronic sinusitis, which resulted in endoscopic sinus surgery. I also suffer from migraines. Only a few a year, but they make up for it in pain. The biggest difference for me is when it’s a sinus migraine I have severe debilitating pain that feels like someone has taken an ice pick to the inside of my sinus cavity. There is no fever, no congestion, no runny nose. When my allergies flare up, and I do get true sinus related headaches, it is almost always accompanied by the traditional stuffy nose, clogged ears,postnatal drip. And sometimes I’ve had the horrible misfortune of experiencing both at the same time. My allergist has never once brought up migraines as being a possibility, and my ENT brought up trigeminal neuralgia as an explanation, which is a nerve disorder. It’s amazing that most never link sinus pain to migraine and migraine management. I take daily allergy medications and I always have maintainence meds for migraines as well.
It is amazing that it is missed by so many. I hope this informed helped Amanda.
I have been waking up with a headache every morning and it last all day. No pain relievers make my headache go away. I had my wisdom teeth out (2 of them) and am on amoxicillin. My pain for my headache is all in my forehead. I am so uncomfortable. I have an appointment with my allergist tomorrow. Do you think she will be able to help? My doctor said to go to her before I make an appointment.
Hi Mel, sorry to hear about your situation. I’m not a doctor so I’m not able to provide medical advice you about your personal situation. I do know that teeth and nerves can be extremely painful and cause headaches. It really does depend where the pain is and what is causing it. Certainly, with the help of this article, you should be able to determine whether it’s sinus vs migraine. Then it’s simply a question of whether the teeth are also playing a role as well and doing what you can to address that. Good luck!
I have been waking up with a headache every morning and last all day too. I was told I have allergies, then I was told I have tension headaches by a ENT, another ENT told me my stuffy nose is probably hormone related…very confusing…Have you found any help yet?
Hi Tanya, I hope Mel responds to you soon. In the meantime, this article might provide some clues: 15 Reasons Why You Wake Up With A Migraine
Great article! I am in my mid thirties and have dealt with both sinus issues and migraines since I was a child. It can be hard for me sometimes to tell what I’m dealing with. I had a really bad migraine two nights ago and both tonight and last night I’ve had a moderate headache that I was blaming on my sinuses. Reading this I’m wondering if it is really a migraine that I can’t get to stay away. Is that common for a migraine to come on with severe pain and then stick around for a few days with moderate pain? I’m guessing it is time to get back to the doctor and try something new. Thanks for the helpful article!
Glad it helped CJ. Migraines are commonly known to last 4-72 hours – that’s up to 3 days. They can last even longer but that’s less common. When they do last longer they are referred to as "status migraine" and you need to go to a headache specialist for treatment support.
I definitely thought it was a sinus headache all the same symptoms plus I had the sinus surgery due to multiple sinus infections so when pain didn’t go away after surgery I assume the surgery didn’t work. It was only when I asked my daughters. Neurologist what she thought and she said most definitely a migraine. No idea what to take nothing helps
Wow, well getting the correct diagnosis is 50% of the challenge Marlene. If you’re just getting started on migraine treatments, this treatment guide is a good overview: https://migrainepal.com/treatment/
i BEEN HAVING HEADACHES AND SINUS PAIN ND PRESSURE THROUGHTOUT MY FACE AND IT HAS BEEN EFFECTING MY EYE SIGHT WENT TO HOSPITAL HAD A CAT SCAN AND THEY GAVE ME MIGRAINE MED AND I STILL HAVE THE SAME THING
Hi Margie, sorry to hear about your symptoms. I would encourage you to see a headache specialist for a comprehensive evaluation. Neurologists and hospital staff doctors are not necessarily headache specialists.
If you are in the US there are neurologists who are board certified in headache medicine. Your doctor or neurologist should be able to recommend one to you. Take care.
I have recently begun experiencing headaches (I’m 50; headaches began within past couple of years). Have fluctuated between thinking it’s sinus vs migraine. I’m mostly triggered by low pressure systems. I don’t get photosensitivity or nausea. I get severe pain in my forehead and behind my eyes. It responds well to Sumatriptan. This current headache has lasted 3 days (low pressure system hovering over us with no rain yet). I sometimes get blurry vision with it. Anything else I should/ can do to prevent them?? Should I see an ENT to rule out problems with my sinuses?? I do have allergies and get a URI every year in Spring and Summer during seasonal changes.
See below for my response Lori.
Oh, and I’m trying to understand: if I’m
Having migraines which is triggered by a neurological reaction in my brain, how could weather possibly trigger a neurological reaction? Much easier to understand how weather/pressure can impact sinuses. Has any progress been made in understanding the connection between weather and true migraine?
P.s. I’m an attorney who handles a lot of medical cases and I’m interested in understanding causation. Particularly in light of all the recent advances in medicine and science. Thank you for providing this forum for asking questions.
Hi Lori, great questions to be asking. To get truly relevant and meaningful answers that are specific to you, you will need to speak to a headache specialist. I’m not a doctor so I’m not able to provide medical diagnosis.
Generally speaking, however, weather is a common trigger for those with migraine.
Migraines are complex and multifactorial. Almost anything could be a trigger for a migraine. Migraines can broadly be considered as an overreactive response to normal stimuli. So any external stimuli such as weather are a common factor in some people.
Different people are affected by different things. Often these stimuli are referred to as triggers and triggers often "stack". When the stack of triggers reaches your migraine threshold a migraine is triggered.
This video explains quite well the neurological processes that are involved in a migraine: http://videos.medxforum.com/migraine-attack-hd-medical-animation_8589cdc2c.html
I hope that helps.
So I know I have migraines and I see a pretty good doctor. I take a preventative medication and I have sumatriptan for when I have a migraine attack. I have found that weather changes and sinuses are a major trigger for me. My doctor had me using nasal sprays for awhile and they seemed to be working and then big weather changes came with the fall and migraines got worse. Is there any advice to help prevent migraines when you know these are your triggers?
If allergies are a trigger and you know this. Then you’ll want to manage that trigger as best you can. I focus on strategies to minimise your allergy flare ups to reduce the risk of migraine. These are going to be different for everyone…
Carl….what preventative medication do you take daily? I am on Propranolol er 80 mg. But still get migraines 2-3 times a week. Anything sets them off. I take Zomig 2.5 when a migraine comes and 30-45 min later it is gone. I am just sick and tired of taking drugs. I see a Neurologist and have been thinking of going to an ENT. When I wake up my sinuses are all clogged and stuffy with a headache which will not go away. Every headache is in the eyes and sinus areas of my face. I have been dealing with this for 17 years now and just want to wake up every morning feeling good. Just wanted to know what you or any others take to help their migraines.
Hi Jan, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m no longer taking daily preventative medication. I have taken Topiramate which is an anti-convulsant.
But really the secret has been keeping diary to help uncover my triggers and inform my strategy for lifestyle, environment, diet and exercise improvements.
I also take high quality supplements known to help people with migraine.
For me, it wasn’t until I was addressing several key issues at once did I recover from chronic migraines. I’m not cured, but it is under control.
I hope that helps.
Thank you for this information concerning sinus headaches and migraines. I did not know that sinus headaches are almost always caused by a sinus infection. It is also good to know that this infection happens when the sinus becomes inflamed.
Happy to help out Jade. I hope this leads to a more informed discussion with your doctor and better results!
Is it possible to develop a migraine while having a sinus infection?
A week ago I started feeling ill and a building of pressure in my face, having 2 young children and being December I thought they just shared a cold with me.
By Tuesday my face felt almost pressurised under the skin but looked fine, the pressure was giving me a headache across the front and sides as well as making me a little disorientated. Heavily congested to the point I couldn’t breathe or even sniffle in my nose.
On Wednesday I could feel the pressure behind my eyes and a constant throbbing with an irritant sensation emanating from the tear duct across about half of each eye.
Thursday the pressure has still there but in addition to the headache from the pressure, I started getting a more dull throbbing pain deeper in my head as well as a sensitivity to light, sound and movement. To the point where I had to go to bed with the blackout blinds down and the covers over my head to block as much out as I could. My thoat has also started hurting and I even find it painful to drink water.
I’ve been taking ibuprofen and cocodomol, (codine and paracetamol) which is the best I can get over the counter but they don’t have any effect now.
Gonna try and see the doctor before weekend but I’ve got symptoms from both conditions, could I be unfortunate and have developed both together.
Last time I had a headache this bad was last December, but it was just the sensitivity, the rest is new.
Thanks for any insight
To answer your question, yes, it’s very possible that a sinus infection can trigger a migraine.
Those who experience migraine and acquire the common cold often find "getting sick" makes them more vulnerable to a migraine attack.
I suspect it has something to do with our inflammatory immune response. Migraine has been associated with neuroinflammation in many published scientific articles (source: http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-3-0348-8131-9).
A runny nose is often caused by a local inflammatory response to a virus, for example.
When you suspect you have a migraine triggered by an illness or cold. Addressing the underlying cold or ailment may reduce the "fuel" to the "migraine fire". But you are likely also going to need to address your migraine as well.
How best to do this is where your doctor will play an important role. It will depend on your own medical history, condition and illness amongst other factors.
Good luck Oliver, I hope this helps!
I have frontal sinus pressure almost constant. Occasionally it will come with a pinpoint pain that corresponds to the pressure point. The pressure is usually a pinpoint spot and not the whole frontal sinus area. The pressure will switch from left to right but usually never both sides at same time. No congestion. Sometimes when pressure relieves, will get a clear runny nose. Some repsearch says you can have an sinus infection without congestion. Tylenol will knock out the pain when it exists but nothing clears the pressure except for some cold air and walking. GP is unfamiliar with sinus issues that don’t have mucus discharge so I have not been on an antibiotic.
My opinion would be that you see a headache specialist who understands the difference between sinusitis and migraine so that you can receive an accurate diagnosis.
I’m not a doctor so cannot diagnose and nor can any doctor without examination or the full information. I can only guess based on the information you’ve shared… but from what you described it’s sounding more like migraine than sinus.
Don’t let the location mislead you. Sinusitis is characterised by fever, swollen lymph nodes and colored nasal discharge. Please see a qualified practitioner to receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
I have always assumed my headaches are sinus headaches. They are often brought on or exacerbated by a sneezing fit, and I have terrible sinus problems. My headaches always occur in the front left side of my head and my left eye always hurts, and I am often nauseous and vomit. My headaches only happen about once a month, but they last for 2-3 days at a time. Its beginning an increasingly debilitating issue.
Hi Kristen, I’d use the symptom checklist in the article above as a starting point to check to ensure you are indeed correctly diagnosed and receiving the right treatment.
If it is true sinusitis or other chronic sinus issues, there are some effective treatments and procedures out there.
If it’s migraine, those procures will be ineffective.
Hi – firstly thank you for posting such a great article – I took a classic aura migraine over a week ago and treated it with a Triptan 5ml – I think I must have started another in my sleep as I have had a migraine ever since – I had severe tooth ache for 3 days and today feel sick and a bit dizzy- sore face to touch and only on half of my head that sickly feeling – even in my ears – do you think sinus now? I have no blocked nose – x
The key diagnostic criteria for sinusitis is fever and discolored nasal discharge. Given that you haven’t mentioned those and you don’t have a runny nose it doesn’t suggest sinus based on the information you’ve shared.
The jaw feeds one of the main nerve endings of the trigeminal nerve which is implicated in migraine. It’s very possible that it could be aggravating your attacks.
Having a sore face to touch (allodynia) is a common migraine side effect. Blocked ears can be a symptom of migraine.
Having said this, I don’t know your personal history and am not a doctor so I’d recommend you get a checkup from a qualified physician to ensure you’re accurately diagnosed and treated. I’d actually see the dentist first as you might find resolving the tooth ache resolves the migraine.
3 or 4 days out of every week I have the first 8 symptoms in the chart. I never have the bottom 5. The doctor close to my house says migraines and gives me a steroid shot with an anti-inflammatory. The doctors close to my work says sinus infection and gives me a shot with steroid and antibiotics… The both work. It’s always ten times worse around my period which I know suggest migraine but it is also that time when my lymph nodes are swollen which suggests sinus. The pain reaches about a level 8 during that time and the migraine meds I have don’t work. They work during the rest of the month. How does this make sense?!
Steroids can help improve migraine. They are often used in hospitalizations for extreme cases of status migraine. Placebo could also be playing a role and many studies have shown a powerful effect of placebo within migraine treatments.
Migraines from menstruation are different and commonly more severe and resistant to common acute treatments. See this article for tips on how to manage menstrual migraine. https://migrainepal.com/prevent-menstrual-migraine/
Ebeth… migraines don’t really make sense. They are complicated and frustrating for many of us.
I also have chronic sinusitis but have found that my headaches that are triggered with allergies and seasonal changes do not necessarily have clogged sinuses, runny nose, etc. They seem to meet the criteria for migraines instead, although I know I have sinus issues as well as can be seen by the membrane in my throat from chronic post nasal drip. Sinus congestion/pain medicine is ineffective, I use peppermint oil topically but what else can I do?
I’m not an expert on sinus issues but Dr Paul Mathew from Harvard spoke at the 2016 Migraine World Summit about this exact topic and about effective treatments for sinus issues. There are procedures available which unlike migraine have been proven to be effective and low risk for those with chronic sinusitis.
Hello, I’ve recently started having these horrible headaches.. weird but it starts with me srarting to get blurry vision… almost psychedelic…. like I can see a watery ring in my left eye gradually getting bigger and bigger …. once that finally passes.. after 30 mins or so …. Whaaaammmm killer headache! I do notice a lot of drainage right now but it is clear …. any advice would be greatly appreciated
I’d read up on migraine auras, the description you gave matches the description of visual auras. See https://migrainepal.com/migraine-with-aura/
Make sure you take yourself to a doctor for a proper diagnosis and receive appropriate treatment.
If it is migraine. Read up on it, educate yourself as you will have a key role to play in your own management and success.
I’ve always have headaches, for I don’t know how long. Half the time I wake up with them, the other half they just come on randomly through out the day. It’s a very rare occasion that I don’t have somewhat of a headache for an entire day. I’ve had the headaches for so long I’ve kind of gotten used to them so I don’t believe they hurt as much as usual Migraines. Whenever I go to a doctor they always tell me it’s a sinus infection but the meds have never helped. So I have no idea what might help me, but my sister suggested I get my Daith pierced
Here’s a helpful article about Daith piercing: https://migrainepal.com/daith-ear-piercing-for-migraine/
If you are waking up with migraines/headaches during the middle of the night and you’re over 50 then it’s important to know about hypnic headaches. The Migraine Trust explains them here: https://www.migrainetrust.org/about-migraine/types-of-migraine/other-headache-disorders/hypnic-headache/
When you’ve had daily headaches for so long medication can often be a complicating factor so I’d also recommend this article: https://migrainepal.com/rebound-headache/
I hope that helps Candra!
I have sinus infection for last two months ear is blocked so I have vertigo also have aura migraines it is so hard to get through everyday
Recovering from the infection should help alleviate the attacks. It could be fueling the attacks by adding to unwanted stimuli to and already sensitized and overloaded nervous system.
This is interesting reading. I have frequently sore sinuses and have had two attacks of aphasia when I believed I had sinusitis. In both cases I was hospitalized and nothing found on MRI, ct scan or in blood tests. Could my sinusitis be migraine and could this cause aphasia? I am 46 and the attacks happened two years apart in autumn and winter. I libe at altitude.
Janey, it is worth taking your new insights to a doctor who knows what to look for. Remember most people have been wrongly diagnosed for 25 years with an average of 4 doctors!
Migraine can certainly cause temporary aphasia. It is a common symptom of the migraine aura. See more about the migraine aura here https://migrainepal.com/migraine-with-aura/
Migraine can also occur at all types of frequencies… i.e. some people might have 1 attack in their life. Some have 1 attack per year. Others can have one per day. It is hugely variable.
I hope that helps!
I was diagnosed with migraines after seeing a sinus specialist for 2 years! I have been advised to cut out caffine and take amotriptalyne but it isn’t really helping. The hospital has discharged me to need to go back to the doctor. I have had enough of feeling like this.
Sorry to hear that Rachel. At least now you have a proper diagnosis (hopefully). The challenge is now finding and working with an experienced and qualified physician who can help effectively treat and manage your attacks. A headache specialist is ideal, but even a general MD can work if they are genuinely interested in headache and you.
You will also have an important role to play in understanding your own condition and making certain adjustments.
I once again have been diagnosed with pansinusitis. I also suffer from debilitating migraines that occur most often with weather changes. I have reached the point that between my chronic sinusitis, which will probably require surgery again, allergy shots, another round of antibiotics, sumatriptan, topomax for the migraines sometimes lasting for days, I am ready to give up, I have no quality of life. I’m a contract employee or I would have been fired, I can’t think straight and I just wait for the next weather change and the agony that will follow. Sorry, I just needed to vent, no question.
No apology needed Christine. We all need to vent sometimes.
Don’t give up. I don’t have sinusitis but I’ve heard there are effective procedures available for it. Migraine also has some wonderful new treatments coming out soon. There is light at the end of the tunnel!
I have suffered from migraines on and off for years and actually had an brain stem stroke when i was 34 due to migraines. .after sub que care and therapy. ..i have overcome that. Now that im 46 and now dont have insurance. ..yep they have reappeared. ..so badly that it is affecting my vision and i am totally off balance and havent worked my job in 6 days now with no relief…otc..does nothing..and an er dr.keeps stating the symptoms are an inner ear..but he didnt examine anything..so i take the meclizine…it doesnt help anything…neither does the sudefed its a migraine. ..and a crippling one at that…he didnt know how to treat it…so i dont know what to do…any advice would be helpful…the nausea is becoming troublesome, and the double vision is unreal
At the Migraine World Summit this year we have a speaker who is discussing Vestibular Migraine which is the type of migraine you are referring to. You might want to check out the free event here http://www.migraineworldsummit.com and also look up more info about Vestibular Migraines which are available here: https://migrainepal.com/vestibular-migraine/
Take care Stephanie.
Thank you so much for this article. I have struggled with what I thought to be sinus problems for about 10 years. Pretty consistent headaches with pounding through my ears and teeth. Test, scans have shown there is nothing physically wrong with me and OTC medications don’t seem to touch the pain. Never in a million years would I have considered this pain to fall into the category of a migraine! I will be visiting my doctor soon to discuss migraines as a potential cause of my symptoms.
Sounds like a great idea Denise, good luck!
I just visited ENT and after sticking a camera up my nose he suggested it may be migraine. 5years ago i visited ENT and they prescribed amitriptyline, it cleared up my sinus pain and my ‘other’ migraine. My normal migraine startes with aura then pain half an hour later. I almost conrtantly have sinus pain though so i was actually hoping there was obvious blockage. Radiology are to be in touch to check the rest of tge sinus to see is there is a not so visible problem so no final diagnosis yet. Any advice?
I too was disappointed actually when I had an MRI which didn’t find anything… at least when they find something you know the cause and then it can fix it…
My guidance is to find and work with a headache specialist if possible. That have the best success, experience and deliver the best results for migraine patients.
Good luck Sarah.
I’ve always had occassional classic migraines. For the last six months or so, I’ve had sinus headaches. Sometimes for weeks or a month at a time every day. Sometimes I wake up with it, sometimes not, but it always gets worse as the day goes one. It causes my sinus area and my teeth to hurt. Sometimes my sinuses swell. Sometimes my gums swell after it’s been going on for awhile. Imitrex doesn’t help for these headaches. The only thing that seems to help is asprin and caffeine. Sometimes heat helps as well. They seem to go in a cycle where they start out as annoying and end up being debilitating. Then they start getting better, and they may even go away for a few weeks. Changes in the weather seem to have an impact, and sometimes it’s painful to bend down. I do have allergies, but many times there is no sneezing or any sign of sinus issues other than inflammation and pain. It can become so painful that I can’t even eat soft foods because it causes intense tooth pain. During these times I’m also extremely sensitive to cold foods and liquids. I am desperate for answers and relief.
The trigeminal nerves reach into the teeth and sinus area which is affected by migraine. It’s a complicated process. Migraines are often triggered by weather changes, allergies or seasonal patterns and can express pain in the sinus cavity.
Your sinus headaches could be a sign of genuine infection (sinusitis) or just your migraine changing over time. Only a doctor after inspection will be able to tell you that.
This is very interesting and I feel may shed some light on my condition.
I’ve had what I’ve referred to for years as sinus headaches or tension headaches. It feels as if my whole face is inflamed, specifically around the sinus passages, eye sockets and cheekbones and its so tender to touch its unbearable. These typically last 6 hours to a full day/night. I’ve always thought sinus headache as they seem to be concentrated in this area however I often am not congested or have cold/flu virus.
Could this be a migraine? They come fairly frequently and i am not sure what the triggers are.
Also, this particular "face" pain migraine – do you know what treatment typically works?
If you aren’t getting those 3 key distinguishing diagnostic criteria for sinusitis then chances are it’s migraine and there are a whole range of interrelated causes which actually overlap with sinus including weather, seasonal changes, allergies etc. Migraine affects the trigeminal nerve which reaches the sinus region. It can be difficult to tell. Best to speak to a neurologist or headache specialist to share your concerns and get a proper diagnosis and treatment. You might get a lot better thereafter!
I have regular migraines usually once or twice a month. When I get a cold or the flu the sinus congestion brings on severe lateral headache that does not respond to Ibuprofen and feels exactly like the usual migraine. I wonder if head colds and fever can also trigger migraines?
Yes they can for some people, this has been shown.
You’re may be vulnerable to a migraine when your sick with the cold or flu so take extra care, rest, hydration etc.
I hope that helps Annette.
Yes i have recurrent R sided head ache across my brow and temple. I have a runny nose but it is clear, I also get a lot of pain into the top of my jaw when my pain is at it worst. My Dr told me it is allergy related sinus but decongestants don’t relive it. I sometimes get woken in teh night with a throbbing head.
I’d get a second opinion from a headache specialist or neurologist.
Waking in the night with headache could be an entirely seperate issue. Depending on your age it could be Hypnic Headache which often goes undiagnosed in those from 50 or so years old.
I used to have horrible migraines when i was in my mid 20 and somebody recommended me reflexology . I’m almost 40 now and I’ve been pain free for 14 years now… You should give it a try 🙂 Good luck with everything
Thank you for the tip Andrea, that’s an amazing result!
I have been diagnosed with migraine, but have received no treatments or medications. I was told that the cause was likely my taking theophylline for my asthma. Long term use of this drug, very similar to caffeine, can cause seizures too. Theophylline and caffeine both compete for binding sites in the hippocampus. My question is this, is there any indication that caffeine can cause or worsen migraines? And, please explain why some migraine medications include caffeine. Thank you! P. S. I’m off caffeine and theophylline for now, only one migraine in the last 6 months after quitting them, but now I want to know if its safe to go back to caffeine.
Caffeine can led to rebound headaches when you’re taking it daily during the week for example… but if you don’t have your "hit" on the weekend, it can cause headaches. With regular use the body needs caffeine to feel "normal".
Caffeine is a double edged sword.
It can also be used to enhance some medications like acetaminophen or paracetamol by up to 40%. This is why it is often used in some medications. However these medications are usually not designed for frequent daily use.
I hope that helps David, great question.
I’ve recently been diagnosed as having migraine headaches by a neurologist. Prior to that I thought it was a sinus problem. Went to an ENT and ruled that out. Then for the next couple of years treated it as if it were cervicogenic in nature because turning my head left and right seemed to bring about the headaches (the MRI of my neck wasn’t pretty). I had injections, PT, massage therapy, nothing helped. Can there be a connection between neck rotation and migraines?
Can there be? Yes I would think so in my non-medically qualified opinion.
The neck and migraine are intimately related for several reasons. The neck is often involved in migraine and the neck itself may be a trigger and/or neck pain may be part of the symptoms of migraine.
The pain processing part of our brain is located at the back of the head at the top of the neck. This occipital region has nerves which could potentially be agitated by neck issues, neck rotation and affect the surrounding regions…
I hope that helps.
This sounds so much like me. I will get what I assume are sinus headaches that last several days. Sometimes like right now it’s just on one side. I don’t have a fever or any discharge but have noticed more often recently that I feel sick to my stomach when I have these headaches. I’ve been trying to treat them by taking OTC nasal steroid sprays like Flonase and they are not working. I may need to take another trip back to the doctor.
Yes, definitely Christi.
You should consider treating the nausea. Once that begins oral medications are likely to get "stuck" in your stomach and remain unabsorbed due to the gastroparesis or stomach tightening. Consider non oral forms of medication when you find yourself in this position.
See you if you can get Sumatriptan prescribed (if appropriate). That is likely to be far more successful than OTC nasal steroids if it is migraine.
Wow.. definitely sounds like I’m dealing with migraines, not sinus headaches. I feel like I’m dealing with the flareups more as I get older (50). Is menopause a possible trigger? I also will have panic attacks because it affects my vision, making it cloudy and myself feeling a little dizzy. I actually worry it will turn into hemoraging on the brain. That doesn’t help.
It does sound like that. I’d get to a neurologist, or ideally, a headache specialist. Spend some time reading about migraine so that you realise what you are experiencing (i.e. migraine aura most likely) is quite typical of migraine and very common. That will help with the anxiety when you better understand what you are going through.
Hormones are a common trigger in women. Menopause in some causes can be trigger but it’s rare. It is treateable however. Dr Susan Hutchinson discussed treatment options for this at the recent Migraine World Summit.
I haven’t ever heard of migraine causing hemorrhaging in the brain so that should not be a concern at all. It does certainly fit the sensation that many of us experience.
I hope that helps Teri. Take care,
I’ve spent the last four months dealing with a concussion. Recently the head pain switched to sinus pain and an MRI shows that I have sinus blockages. I was taking Sudafed which helped for a few days then stopped helping. Should I now consider this pain a migraine or keep treating it as if it were a sinus infection? Have you heard of concussions causing sinus issues? I’d appreciate any help you can offer.
This is beyond my knowledge I’m sorry. Given the complications I’d be working with a headache specialist to ensure you’re you rule out concussion and headache issues first.
Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful Joy.
This is me. I have been suffering with what I thought was sinus problems for years. Today I saw the PA at my ENT and she suggested that it is migraine, I dismissed it but then realized it makes complete sense. I have been barking up the wrong tree for years. I am so glad I came to this realization today so I can start treating the real problem.
Fantastic Mary! So great to hear that.
Without the accurate diagnosis, finding effective and quality treatment is very difficult. I hope you turn the corner soon.
I have been suffering from what i call "sinus migrains" for years. The crown of my head, face and jaw all hurt as well as pressure in my eyes. I have light sensitivity and a bit of nausea. I take a triptan along with pseuophederine. There are times when the trip just doesn’t touch the migrain alone.
My mother had migraines but received botox injections around 15 years ago and hasn’t had migraines since. It may next step.
Thank you for your informative article
Given that you likely inherited your migraines from your mother, what is very effective for her may also be effective for you too. Botox may be a worthy consideration Debra.
I once suffered stress related migraines during high school and college. Once the stressful phase ended, so did the migraines.
In recent years as an adult, O have found that I often suffered migraine symptoms (sharp, pulsating, spasmodic pains on the left side of my head) only now, each occurrence was precipitated by wintry weather when caught in it without the aid of my earmuffs — or in summer while in an air conditioner environment that gave me a chill or blew air directly on my left ear. Even sitting in front of a fan in summer has precipitated nasal congestion upon my next awakening, facial puffiness/tenderness and intermittent sharp/shooting pains on or above my left ear.
I had been self-diagnosing myself with a head cold that took on migraine symptoms until a g-friend directed me to an article that made me think my issue was SINUS problem.
I tried saline nasal sprays and found relief of my migraine-like symptoms.
Not so much with my current round of migraines…now in day 3.
I’m in Florida where temps have been in the mid 80’s till a few days ago they dropped below 70. The next day my condition returned.
Just tonight my research took me to accounts of people whose headaches onset due to weather changes so that’s a new one on me, but that describes what happened to me.
This article seems to diagnose me with not sinus but migraine headaches, though the sharp EARACHE-like pains at the start of the ailment are still baffling to me.
Pressure in my head also feels lightened by my coughing up the congestion…which also led me to think COLD or SINUS.
What do you think? I would sure like some input.
Sufferer in Florida
Hi Florida Girl,
I’m not a doctor and this article is not intended to diagnose your condition – just give you some facts. Only your personal physician can diagnose a medical condition.
It is possible to have multiple conditions. You could have some sinus or allergies triggering a flare up which leads to a migraine. Or you may not. A good doctor in their first consultation for migraine will often spend up to an hour asking you questions and getting to a diagnosis. Unfortunately it’s not something that can be done online.
It’s important to get a good understanding of these conditions and then speak with a specialist and ask informed questions to get the answers and treatment you need.
I hope that helps.
I went to an ENT because I thought I was having recurrent sinus infections. Antibiotics wouldn’t help, I would get so sick from them that sometimes my eyes would swell (nearly closed shut) and I felt like my eyeball was going to pop out of my head. I have the post-nasal drip thing going on, the sore throat from the sinus drainage and when the ENT looked up my nose he notated my left sinus duct appeared to be clogged. He ordered allergy testing and a CT Scan. Allergy testing concluded I have no allergies (Very mild Birch reaction) and the CT Scan said that all was clear in my sinuses. It did notate that my Right Inferior Nasal Turbinate is mildly enlarged and the inferior nasal meatus is moderately aerated. The Left Inferior Nasal Turbinate is markedly enlarged due to mucosal hypertrophy/congestion with moderate narrowing of the left inferior nasal meatus. The mid and anterior left middle nasal turbinate is moderately to markedly enlarged with conchal bullosa and mildly narrowed left middle meatus. Evidence of mild S-Shaped deviation of midportion of nasal septum. The right ostiomeatal complex is patent but narrowed due to presence of at least 2 Haller cells at the superolateral aspect of the ostium and infundibulum — none of which makes ANY sense to me.
The ENT was quick to say I don’t need sinus surgery, I have migraines (which I already knew) and referred me to a neurologist. I don’t understand how he can look up my nose at my initial appointment, tell me my left sinus duct is blocked/clogged but after the CT Scan, all is clear and no issues found….
I already knew I suffered from migraines, OTC meds don’t work and I have taken triptans before and they cause me to feel horrible (my jaw locks and my heart beat increases and I feel like I am having an anxiety attack or a heart attack)…. I just want the pains to go away. I have them pretty much every day of the year… out of 30 days in a month, I may go a total of 5 days without pains in my face behind my eyes (mainly my left one)….
In your professional opinion should I seek a second opinion from a different ENT within a different practice or let neuro check me out?
It’s important to say I’m not a professional, I’m a patient. Personally I haven’t found success with oral triptans either.
I would trust you’re gut and seek another opinion. Perhaps a headache specialist – neurologists aren’t headache specialists and there is a difference. You might find a better result with them.
I have had this type of sinus/sinus migraine twice now–this past episode (6/17) actually had me going to the emergency room as the pain was unbearable; I honestly thought it was my sinuses, as only my forehead, temples and temples-to the sides by ears hurt, plus back of neck. This time, I also had the nausea and vomiting; and dizziness; my first bout, (12/16), I woke up with a strange pain on the side my neck, right below my head, the pain progressed like above, but without the dizziness or nausea. Both times have also included pain and tingling on the sides of my head and down my spine…emergency room doc gave me meclizine for dizziness, told me to take Excedrine Migraine for pain. I’m a little nervous that it may be something else, as I’ve never had migraines or sinus trouble in the past, but now I’m 56 and experiencing these I’m getting worried…
If there is a significant change in your symptoms I would see someone about it.
From what you described, it’s worth seeing a specialist like a neurologist or headache specialist just to be sure it’s nothing else. Given your age and if the change is significant enough from the specialist’s perspective they may order an MRI scan or similar to rule out other things.
A the very least, you should get better treatments than what you get from the ER. ER’s are a horrible place to be with migraine or severe sinus pain.
Remember, I’m not a doctor. It’s better to be safe than sorry. I hope that helps.
I thought I had sinus headache , but they are severe. The pain is everywhere you mention but also my teeth. I feel like vomiting, movement effects it, light can effect it and cold seems to effect it or make it worse. I also see at times little white spots. I am going to see my doctor today as I can’t shift it . I’m now wandering if it is margarine
There are over 200 different types of headache, but technically there is no such thing as a "sinus headache" according to the International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD). If you are experiencing headache in the sinus region then you’re right to think it may be another issue.
Little white spots is characteristic of migraine with aura. You can read more about potential symptoms here: https://migrainepal.com/migraine-with-aura/
Hi there. I’m wondering if you see or speak to many people with constant dizinsss with this. Vestibular migraine?
I do speak to a few people that have dizziness. I’m not sure about constant, but it is a type of migraine called Vestibular Migraine which I’ve written about before here: https://migrainepal.com/vestibular-migraine/
I hope that helps,
Our daughter has been complaining about having headaches for a few days, and we are wondering if she is having sinus problems. It is good to know that real sinus headaches are almost always from a sinus infection. I did not know that these infections were common and that up to thirty percent of the population experienced at least one each year. We will be visiting a doctor very soon to ease her pain, thanks. https://www.pottershouserx.com/pain-management.html
Glad to have helped Lauren. I hope your daughter improves soon.
Thank you for this study and this article. I suffered many, many years with sinus issues, sinus headaches and then full blown serious migraines. I now believe they were all migraines cause by mast cell activation.
I now use a mast cell protocol and avoid migraines including sinus headaches but I am still affected by weather changes, hormonal changes, etc. but I don’t get the headaches or the migraines anymore.
I can’t take credit for the study but thank you for your feedback Virginia. Glad to hear you’ve found results.
Virginia, I’ve been wondering about mast cell issues in relation to my migraines. What protocol do you use? Thanks for your help.
Interesting – I get the two kinds of migraines – its only recently that I’ve realised that my ‘sinus headaches’ are migraines, but haven’t yet seen a doctor to see where to go from here. I’ve been given nasal inhalers that didn’t work, and have tried all kinds of sinus-related meds, but none of them have worked to relieve the day to day sinus pain – and the full on attacks can only be relieved by my usual migraine reliefs. I’m encouraged to know its a real thing and something that I can speak more specifically with my doctor about. Thanks!
Glad to hear Ali. An accurate diagnosis is the best chance of appropriate treatment.
I have migraine 2 to 3 times a month.
If I didn’t have my Relpax they would last for 3 days each and I would be out for those 3 days in so much pain. My migrines start behind one side of my head, my ear, my eye and neck.
Glad to hear you’ve found some helpful treatment Shari.
Last year I saw an ENT and it was the FIRST time a physician suggested that my Chronic Sinusitis that I was diagnosed with was actually migraines (which I was diagnosed with as well)…. It did take me by surprise and if I had read this article before hearing a doctor tell me that, I probably would have rejected the findings as well, but it actually makes complete sense! We need more doctors out there that care about what they do and have the resources to provide valuable information rather than just making money!
Agree. Many doctors are wonderful people doing their best, but there is still much more that can be done to help migraine patients.
Due to frequent moves around the country, I saw a number of doctors. I always discussed what I thought were sinus headaches and as a result had x-rays to look for nasal polyps. None were ever found. I attended a migraine seminar in Vancouver B.C. as a co-worker suggested I might be suffering from migraines. Turns out I was and still am. I am 60 and have suffered from migraines since I was a teenager (menstrual related too). They are not as frequent now that I have reached menopause. I use Maxalt when one hits. Within 20 minutes, migraine is gone and I am not exhausted as I once was taking 222s every 4 hours in a quiet room with heat on my head.
Very interesting to hear Denise. It is surprising the first time you hear about it.
It’s great that you’ve found something that has helped you treat acute attacks.
Thank you for sharing your experience.
I am now 77 years old and have been having daily headaches since I was a teenager. I did suffer a concussion when I was young with amnesia. Had a few more concussions in early adulthood. I have been to so many doctors, even went to Diamond Headache Clinic. People came from all over to see Dr. Diamond. Even he diagnosed me with migraines. I did suffer with migraines for about 40 years. There is a huge difference between migraines and sinus headaches. You know that when you’re hanging over the toilet vomiting and then you go into a dark room with a bucket. I did try the pounding my head on a wall. I had an acupuncturist tell me that pounding my head on the wall probably helped the head ache because I was hitting pressure points which were leading to the pain. Whenever I heard people tell me they had a migraine so they took extra strength Excedrin and lied down, I couldn’t believe it. I could never lie down with a migraine. I believe I have outgrown the migraines but still have horrible headaches every day, to the point that I do not want to open my eyes in the morning. As I type this my face is throbbing and my head pounding. I don’t believe this is a migraine unless there are different degrees of migraines. There is not one doctor who has ever helped me in any way. Having horrible daily headaches for over 60 years is not a way to live your life. I do take prescription pain pills but even they do not help. They lessen the pain and I’m guessing that’s all that can be done. My life had always been "sorry, I can’t go, have a bad headache". I’ve been to many physiatrists’ over all the years. Upon suggestions from my doctors’ who could never help me. Not one seemed to think I had any sort of problem. Science has come a long way but yet they cannot help chronic pain patients. Seems strange that man can walk on the moon but people have to live their lives in terrible pain.
Judy pounding your head on the wall is not a good idea. This kind of restlessness is actually characteristic of cluster headache rather than migraine. People with cluster can’t sit still with the pain, they pace and are more likely to hit themselves to distract from the pain.
Those with migraine are far more likely to want to go to a quiet, dark room away from noise and light.
I have had migraine since I was 14 years old (now 45) and have had 2 major sinus operations plus
minor procedures and am now being treated with Botox to help with the migraines as they had escalated in recent years. The Botox has had the most positive result. Many Doctors and much medication over the years, it has not been an easy journey to get to where I am now. I am still not sure myself what is really going on.
Getting more information and facts is a good step. The more you know the better chance you have of getting to the bottom of your condition and achieving remission.
I have a migraine every period. I thought it was a headache or sinus headache, but now I realize that the vomiting and light sensitivity are proof that I get migraines. I am currently undergoing chemotherapy and have list my hair. My sister said she could notice slight swelling in the back of my head just before my migraine hit. A nurse had told me to put an ice bag on the back of my head for relief, and it totally works but I still need to take some over the counter medicine. My insurance isn’t great. I’m just happy that they are taking care of my cancer treatment. My oncologist thinks that a hysterectomy might relive my menstrual cramps, migraines, and protect me from unterian cancer.
Experts at the Migraine World Summit have confirmed that a hysterectomy – for migraine only – it’s not a good idea. It can have sudden and potentially worsening effects on your migraine condition. There are more effective alternative options for menstrual migraine.
Given you mentioned cancer and you have migraine… something that few people know about is a ketogenic diet. It has strong cancer fighting properties – I’ve heard scientists suggest it might become a new standard of care in cancer treatment. It was originally famous for treating refractory epilepsy in children. As you might know epilepsy is the close cousin to migraine and share many similar biological elements.
A ketogenic diet under medical supervision might be very helpful both for the cancer and migraine. Definitely speak to your doctor and a nutritionist about this. I hope that helps Shawna.
Yes I get Terrible sinus pain daily had CT scans and all ok it’s definitely migraines I think
Could be Jess!
I have been dealing with sinus issues for over 20 years now. Most of my issues were at night when I was sleeping. My doctor started me on Allegra D and Flonase, and WOW, the difference was amazing! I had no clue what it was like to wake up and actually feel good, and refreshed, in the mornings. For the last 10 years, however, medications have stopped working no matter what I use. I also use the saline nasal rinse with no relief and have had what we thought were sinus infections off and on for years now. For the last 2 months now I have had a bad headache every single day. We thought, once again, that it was a sinus infection, and my doctor started me on antibiotics which, of cost, didn’t help. He then sent me to an ENT and come to find out I have a deviated septum, large turbinates and not enough cartilage in my nose to hold it open when I breathe, which is why my sinuses are already filled with mucus that will not drain. She also told me that she believes my headaches are actually migraines. I am scheduled for a CT scan today to check the sinuses in the back of my head and the lower part of my head (or neck, whichever the case might be) and if all is clear, she is referring me to a neurologist for migraines. I wish to God I had know about this condition years ago, and I could have saved myself a lot of pain and suffering!!!
We can’t change the past, but we can change our future Kelly.
You could well have both sinus issues (maybe structural) and migraine. What matters is the progress your making. Keep going and good luck!
I have had regular headaches since I was about 12 years old and saw so many specialists and therapists. Eventual diagnosis was ‘neuro-muscular-skeletal-tension headaches’. Which kind of means everything and nothing. Tried Imigran as a teenager and they didnt help, so we all figured they werent migraines. I usually dont get the aura or nausea – only once or twice a year do I experience this, so always just said hormonal headaches or sinus headaches. Funnily enough, my pmt headaches feel exactly like sinusitis only NOTHING HELPS, so no point taking anything. So usually im in bed with a hormone patch (hello weight gain) and a wheat bag on my neck for a few days. Im so excited every time I learn something new that can be potentially helpful. Thank you! Ive had these headaches for 27 years now and I know about food, scent and sleep triggers. How some exercise is good but not too much.
Glad you found this useful Kelly.
Personally I think the more we understand about ourselves and our condition the better chance we have of remission. If hormonal headache or migraine is an issue for you then it you might benefit from this article: https://migrainepal.com/prevent-menstrual-migraine/
I thought I had a sinus infection. Two days with horrible headache behind my left eye. Sinus clogged up and then blowing my nose all night with a cruddy cough. All of a sudden after not eating and throwing up a whole day (throwing up every time I popped advil or drank a sip of liquid) it was over and my nose wasnt clogged anymore and headache faded. It was viscious!!
Sinusitis doesn’t cause nausea or vomiting.
Nausea presents a challenge for treatment. Look at other routes to administer medication or take an anti-nausea treatment at the first signs. Patches, injections, wafers, nasal, suppositories are alternatives…
If you take medication when your nauseated it’s not likely to be absorbed due to gastroparesis.
I long ago misdiagnosed with sinus instead of migraines. The majority of my headaches are sinus related. Most MDs still don’t know the connection. My question is this, should I still take the sudifed and mucinex that I would normally take for sinus??
By sinus-related do you mean migraine with symptoms in the sinus area such as sinus pain, headache, swelling, runny nose or itchy eyes?
If it’s true sinusitis, then those brands might help with some relief.
If it’s migraine it’s unlikely to help and in fact you’d do much better with a migraine specific treatment like a triptan if deemed safe by your doctor.
I hope that helps Brie.
Yes, May seem to be sinus headache. I get a stuffy nose on one side and pain along nose and in eye area. Also the watery eye on that side. I will sneeze as though an allergy to something. I have other symptoms such as sound sensitivity, mood change, and then pain on one side that comes afterward. There are other symptoms and It has been for many years I have had migraines. I have wondered about sinus infection in the past yrs, but learned the difference. The only kind of headaches I have are migraines, and only migraine meds stop them. Rarely have had a sinus infection headache. – T M
Thank you for sharing your experience Teresa. It helps to hear others situation as another migraine patient reading this.
I have been having headaches for about a month. I have had some neck and shoulder pain prior to the headaches, which I thought were the cause. I also moved from Iowa to Georgia, which could be a issue. I was told by my chiropractor, that it may be sinus related. I have been on antibiotics for a week, with little to no change. The shoulder and neck thing is better, but the headaches are still continuing.
Neck is a tricky area. For some people it’s a trigger, for others its simply a symptom of a migraine coming. For others still it’s both.
It may also simply have been the ignition behind the migraines… even though they are gone. The cycle of migraines are continuing because your threshold is now lower. Your challenge may be, to improve your migraine threshold again through preventative behaviors and lifestyle adjustments.
Can any tell me if they have these symptoms. I have had migraines since I was 16 years old. Along with Allergies my whole life. If I sleep on my right side I will wake up all stuffed up, then I feel pressure above and below my eye. (Cheek pain) I will treat with allergy meds. Sometimes they help. But when I can actually feel stinging I will try taking MucinexD for a few days. That does seem to help. But when I stop, it will come back. If I can’t get the stinging and dull pain to ease up, it will trigger a migraine. I have gone through so much imitrex and relpax it has gotten extremely expensive. Any suggestions?
Careful you’re not overusing the medications Gail… that can lead to daily migraines which you really don’t want.
It’s very possible you have both allergies and migraine. How old are your pillows (should they be replaced? How often do you wash your bed sheets and pillow covers? Is there any black mould in your house or especially your bedroom etc. Have you considered allergy friendly bedding and materials?
I hope that helps.
I read this article today and am amazed! I have been in pain for over a week now with a "sinus headache." I found my husband’s left-over Amox-Clav and also Prednisone which I have been taking now for 5 days to no avail. My last known migraine was 30 years ago after the birth of my daughter. All the symptoms that are listed with a check mark in the list that pertain to migraine are part of my current condition; those relative to only a sinus headache are not. It’s almost as if knowing it isn’t sinus has helped the actual pain. I just wanted to say thank you for this article and clearing up what I have been mistaking for sinusitis. I am no longer taking the antibiotics or steroids. Again, just knowing what it is has been a tremendous help.
Fantastic news Jo! I’m so glad this has helped you. I’d encourage you to speak with your doctor about your diagnosis (or another opinion) to confirm and supervise any change in treatment.
Fantastic article and so true! If you don’t mind I would like to contribute a short comment, being both rhinologist and a GP with special interest in headaches:
1. In your table with comparison w RS with migraine I would add smell problems. They are one of staple symptoms of RS according to the European criteria on rhinosinusitis (EPOS).
2. Symptoms alone can be quite tricky to differentiate between these two diseases. Most of ENT specialist literature on the subject and ICHD-III Beta suggests that sinus headache is a REAL sinus headache only when confirmed by CT or endoscopy AND the findings ipsilateral with pain.
Also, I’d like to congratulate you on fantastic job you are doing here and with Migraine World Summit and hope to see you in Vancouver next week.
Thank you for the comments Marcin. I know smell can be an issue for those with migraine but hadn’t heard of that for RS. Perhaps that’s something they also have in common.
Thank you for your feedback. Yes, I will be at the conference in Vancouver. Come say hi if you see me!
I’m still in my road to diagnosis. I have suffered sinus infections & other sinus issues since birth. I have had numerous sinus surgeries, the most recent 7 years ago. They took out bone & nerve separating frontal sinus area. I have suffered headaches & sinus pressure on & off my whole life, but since the last surgery the headaches seemed different. They are still located in my sinus areas, but no change in mucus discharge. I had tried numerous treatments & chiropractic care, & nothing was improving. I went back to an ENT who said my frontal sinus is scarred shut, but suggested a low dose of a triptan, but it didn’t work. I was sent to Mayo clinic & that ENT is pretty sure it’s still migraine & has been for years. My mind was blown to learn that much of my sinus symptoms can be explained by migraine. Also the fact the last surgeon took out so much structure & nerves is causing my brain to tell my body I’m not getting airflow… Its really hard to take in this new direction of what could be causing my pain! I haven’t seen a neurologist, but that’s the next step & charting my headaches. Thank you for this article.
My pleasure Laura and thank you for sharing your story. It’s crazy to think that still today we could be so poorly diagnosed and even have potentially unnecessary surgeries as a result.
Triptans don’t work for everyone. But if you are going to try it. Experts suggest trying the max dose if safe and you can tolerate it. Then, if there are any side effects when treating your attack you can roll down the dose. But then you get a better idea of whether the treatment will work for you or not.
I was referred to headache specialist with my last migraine. I haven’t made that appointment yet because I thought they were always a sinus thing. Seeing your side by side comparison, I see that they are migraines with sinus symptoms not sinus headaches. I’ll be making that appointment now. Thank you!
I’m so glad this article helped Sheryl, thank you for your comment and good luck with the specialist!
I’ve had classic migraines for 52 years. A couple of years ago I started having sinus problems.I never would have guessed it was migraines.They don’t hurt as bad as regular migraines, but that’s ok. People can’t imagine the pain unless they’ve been there. Thank you for this article!
My pleasure Dorothy, glad it helped. Good luck!
How about this? No such thing as migraines and all migraines are sinus headaches. End of story.
Haha, I wish migraine didn’t exist. But that’s only a fantasy. The evidence is unequivocal.
Very interesting, I didn’t know that having trouble putting sentences together, unable to respond and feeling out of it, was migraine symptoms….that helps a lot…. I also didn’t know that I had brain stem aura migraines as well and that my field of vision vibrating was normal. It’s quite spooky when it vibrates and shimmers and moves side to side, but I haven’t had that for years thankfully. My migraines come from two seperate neck injuries, one very serious one as a teenager, that caused me to not be able to lie down on a pillow without losing feeling and pins and needles and numbness, then one as an adult, falling from a broken hammock, hitting my neck, base of my skull on a rock on the way down, causing different types of migraines.
I have been taking folate, vitamin B6 and B12 daily, for my aura migraines as studies have shown these help. I have always had a known lack of folate and B12 since childhood, made to take the vitamins only pregnant women take in primary school. I have greatly reduced migraines, almost non existent now and if I forget my tablets I get symptoms of aura, but not migraine.
I get neck pain leading to pain on the right side and top of my head. When the migriane is in full swing I can follow the pain with my fingers, from my head, leading down the side of my face, beside my ear, these areas hurt intensely to touch and feel as bad as the migraine pain in my head. The pain then can be followed down my face and into my jaw and it’s really bad at the base of my skull. Just touching the base of my skull when in this type of migraine feels as if it may be dangerous and I have been scared. It felt as if I would pass out. The pain then travels down into my neck. It should be noted that massage to the muscles in these areas, starting from the neck and going upwards, or if alone, rubbing in front of your ears can relieve the pain. But if it makes it worse STOP at once!!! If massage is started as soon as a warning for migraine is experienced, the pain of a migraine can be stopped…. Interestingly my taste buds change as well.
I’ve felt a metallic taste in my mouth preceding or during an attack myself. Given your neck is so responsive to migraine both in good and negative ways, I would discuss seeing a physical therapist with your doctor.
Rehabilitating your neck back to full health or as close as possible may help your attacks if you notice that they are linked.
Thank You for validating Everything I’ve been saying about my migraines!! I suffer significantly from 4-5 types of migraine. I know most of my triggers and try to control my Chronic Migraines as best I can. Someone just suggested the daith piercing for possible relief (and maybe some relief for my fibromyalgia). We shall see.
Glad you found this helpful Debbie.
For information on the Daith piercing see: https://migrainepal.com/daith-ear-piercing-for-migraine/
I get migraines, have since I was 17 and now I’m 52. I’ve gotten them almost religiously every month between or during menstrual cycles. I’ve lost my vision 5 times from the. I start with a slight tension headache, then the intensity increases, then I’m nausea’s, feverish, shakes and vomiting. A simple bright light or strobe can also trigger and immediate headache. The migraines can debilitate me anywhere from a couple of hours to a week. From the neck down I’m freezing and from the neck up I’m burning. I was told by my physician not to take any type of hormones because I get the aura a lot of times before I lose my vision. I’m the 1% who is allergic to the doctors prescription of migraine medication (sorry, I do not recall the name, too long and weird for me to remember). Over the counter products do not work and I typically end up vomiting them up anyway. It would be wonderful to find someone or something who knew of something I could do or take to avoid migraines. I absolutely abhor getting them.
There are quite a number of acute treatments available so if you are allergic to one type there are likely others available. Perhaps seeing a headache specialist who knows more about the different types of treatments is your best chance at finding something that works.
I hope that helps Donna,
This is such an interesting article. I have suffered with diagnosed migraines for years. Severe enough that i get Botox injections for the. Every 10-12 weeks. I have also suffered from "sinus infections" for years, which were never connected to my migraines. What a light bulb moment. Today I went to my PCM because I was pretty sure I had a sinus infection, if it was a migraine, it had lasted more than the usual 3 days. I didn’t really want to go on antibiotics, but if I did have an infection I would. The reason I thought it was sinuses is that I had front forehead pressure, both sides, eye pressure, behind and below. Not a typical migraine headache for me. She thought a short burst of prednisone might be best for me. I waited to take the pills and my headache broke last night. It was a migraine. This article fit the last puzzle piece in place. I know my comment is longish, but it helped me understand another aspect of my migraines! So thank you 🙂
Hey Inge, so glad you found this article helpful! That’s exactly the purpose for me writing it. I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
I was diagnosed with migraine with aura when I was 13. It’s was horrible, but infrequent then and even more infrequent now now, no more than 5-10 times a year for the aura migraine. What I have noticed in the last year or so is a spike in what I thought were just sinus headaches. It struck me as odd because in addition pain on my face, behind my eyes and on my forehead, I also am experiencing pain on the top left and right side of my head and have sensitivity to light consistent with that of a migraine. I figured this meant I was having a different kind of migraine, but it’s so nice to hear this confirmed – i’m not going nuts! Now it’s every day with this kind of migraine, and i’m still prone to the the Aura Migraines, which are significantly worse the few times they do happen. But these sinus migraines are really taking it out of me – i’m pretty sure I have them more often than not, and so it feels like this pain never goes away – I only get small breaks from it. When they’re really bad, I find myself very confused. I was driving one night after work and forgot where I was and where I was going. I tried to explain this to my fiancé and my words came out jumbled, it actually became difficult to speak. Turns out I was headed to the bank, he had me pull over and switch with him. How dangerous can driving with this kind of headache be?
Hi Becca, migraine can certainly change over time. It sounds like yours has. This would warrant a visit to the neurologist for a checkup.
If the changes have come on suddenly I would urgently see someone about them. I would also keep a record of your condition using a tool like Migraine Buddy or Curelator – both of which you can find in the app store. This will help inform your doctor about how best to proceed given the frequency, severity, and symptoms you experience.
Thank you for the advice. I’m downloading the app right now!
I’ve been once to a neurologist a few years ago – they did some kind of reflex test on me and determined that I did not need a head scan – perhaps it’s time to try again. The pesky insurance loops we have to jump through! I had gone in for a much more alarming pain in my head – what I now believe is an “ice-pick” headache. I haven’t had one of those for at least 4 months now, though. Do you have any experience with these?
Becca, I experience the same thing. It just seems to go on and on for weeks. I’ve found Epson salts and magnesium hydrochloride helpful. Also peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus essential oils. I apply the oil to my forehead and my lymph nodes, because they get clogged and cause gum infections. BC or Goodys powders help a lot for pain relief.Taking l-theanine daily helps as a preventive. I’ve also noticed that too much light or screen time can bring them on. Hope this helps. I know the constant pain can drive you nuts.
Nice tips Carrie.
One thing about magnesium. A chelated form of magnesium is much better digested and absorbed by the majority of people and is less likely to have any unwanted side effects. Personally, I take magnesium glycinate every day and find it makes a difference with less brain fog, and more resilience and energy. There’s a few different types. Ask your pharmacist and they should be able to explain the difference to you in more detail.
Thank you for the advice! I haven’t tried epson salts or magnesium chloride, yet! I use lavender oil on my pillow sometimes to help me sleep – but I have to be careful with aromatherapy, as certain scents, like too much light, trigger headaches – but hell, i’ll try any of these suggestions at least once! It would be nice not to have to resort to pull popping every time – too much long term damage to the body. So I’ve got a new shopping list for peppermint and eucalyptus oil now. I’m glad to hear these remedies have been helping you!
Not sure if I will get an answer as this article is a couple years old. I have had sinus migraine for 13 years. I have been to 3 Sinus Specialist, two Neurologist. I have had acupuncture, chiropractor, two treatments of Botox. Sinus surgery, seen a allergist and I am not allergic to anything. I am so tired of not having the correct diagnosis. My headaches are constant. My nose throbs and turns bright Red. What do you think? Thanks, Nancy
Hey Nancy, as per the above article, sinus migraine doesn’t technically exist. In fact even a sinus headache is heavily debated amongst professionals.
I’m sure you have but I’m assuming you’ve been checked for mold and pollen. Particularly around your house?
From your description, and I’m not a doctor, but if you don’t have sinus or allergies then migraine is the only plausible diagnosis left.
I’d strongly encourage you to watch two experts in the 2018 Migraine World Summit coming up in April – Dr Vincent Martin and Dr Frederick Godley – they are both leading experts who expertise intersects allergy, sinus and migraine.
Ive had migraines since i was 26, get sick, cant speak. Have to take meds. Go lie down, sleep it off for couple of hours. Since i turned 40 (now turning 48) they got worse. Got them 3 days at a time. Bn put on meds to block, amitriptyline 30mg, proprananol 160mg daily but hated the brain fog & not functioning properly & still getting migraine so taking sumatriptan (forgotten doseage) at onset of migraine but taking 2 a day on 2 occassions 3 which didnt work & naproxen which mostly has. Nose & airway clear but pain around eye, teeth. Worst pain usually above right eye high in forehead. Is that migraine or sinus? Now off blockers & started on topirimate 45mg & waiting to see neurologist & specialist at ENT. Im thinking that hormones are causing these cluster sinus/migraine as lasting 3 days pretty much monthly & sporadic throughout the month. I had a hysterectomy & 1 ovary removed 2 years ago with no change.
Hi Donna, perimenopause is known to cause havoc for unfortunate women with migraine. The location of the pain or symptoms can be misleading which even confuses many doctors who don’t know what to look for.
Unfortunately, a hysterectomy does not help the situation and can even make it worse. Make sure you watch an upcoming interview with hormonal expert Dr Anne MacGregor at this year’s Migraine World Summit in April where she discusses exactly this topic and what options you have. See http://www.migraineworldsummit.com for details.
Also refer to the hormone article at https://migrainepal.com/prevent-menstrual-migraine/
So, as I sit here with a full blown migraine today, I was googling if the daith piercing would help my sinus headaches and I came across your blog. I have struggled with what I deemed sinus issues all my life. I was diagnosed with chronic migraines years ago when I was in high school and have had classic migraines at least once a month, sometimes less sometimes more, for years. I have a headache everyday, I don’t know what it is like to no have a headache. I know if I let my headache get away from me it will turn into a full blown migraine, nausea, light sensitivity and all. Since my headaches are always triggered by weather change, allergies, and such I just always attributed them to sinus. I have a sinus infections at least twice a year, sometimes more. I am so glad I came across your blog, my pain makes so much sense now. I also see I amd far from alone in this struggle. Both of my parents and my brother also suffer from these headaches as well. I am going to make an appointment with my doctor and see what she says.
Heather I’m so glad this has helped and led to you making an appointment. Good luck! Also Dr. Lawrence Newman is interviewed about daily, unresponsive and refractory headache at the 2018 Migraine World Summit in April. If you google it you’ll find it. You don’t want to miss his talk.
I always thought my sinus headaches led to my migraines as the pain that surrounded my eyes and nose (sinus area), with the pain and pressure behind the eyes, would then, as time went on, center over my left eye, where my migraines occur. My doctors would ‘hear’ me, but not listen, focusing only on the sinus symptoms. I quit going to see doctors, feeling it was a waste of all our time and my money. Thank you for proving me correct. Would that all physicians read this blog….
Hi Annette, doctors often roll their eyes when you start a sentence with "I read on the internet", but if you quote the research they are more likely to pay attention.
Regardless it’s important we have a good idea about what is going on because there is still so much confusion out there even amongst some medical professionals. I’m glad this helped you Annette.
My headaches are behind one eye as the surrounding area (cheek bone, nasal bridge, forehead on one side) and include that temple and the back of my head near the top of the brainstem. It is almost always caused by barometric drops or hormonal drops. I have light and sound sensitivity and nausea. OTC meds work only some of the time. They last from 24hrs to 2 days… this last weather bout has had me down for 5 of the past 6 days and has switched eyes 🙁
I use a Saline wash, sinus meds, Excedrin migraine, ice packs, heating pads, steamy showers with eucalyptus oils. The suffering if ridiculous.
From what you described Sarah you haven’t mentioned the most effective type of acute medication for migraine which is a triptan. i.e. Sumatriptan. Speak to your doctor about this option. It works for the majority of patients. You should aim for migraine resolution within 2 hours otherwise keep searching for more options or combinations. There are many many more options available.
wow, I definitely have been having migraines. Interesting.
I hope this helps. Always worth checking with your doctor and now getting appropriate treatment for it! Good luck Sandra.
I have had 4-5 concussions in my day, 2 miserable ones that came with post concussion syndrome for 3 months. I have been healthy and enjoying life until about a week ago. Throbbing of the bridge of my nose and underneath my eyes with fatigue but no sinus inflammation or drainage. My sinus pain is the only symptom and when I saw an ENT he suggested I take Flonase and ClaritinD for potential allergies. I’ve never had allergies in my life and I have no symptoms except the sinus pressure/pulsating that is causing me to feel out of it and lightheaded. The only thing I can relate the feeling to is the post concussion throbbing of that area. Could this be a low-grade migraine. Are there and over the counter medications that could offer relief? Thank you.
Hi Alex, to answer your questions. Yes and yes. It is possible it is migraine and yes there are many treatment options to treat an acute attack and strategies and even treatments that can help prevent them. Speak to your doctor to get a diagnosis.
I’ve suffered for over 40 years with these. I’ve been thi several doctors who have never really helped me. After numerous trips thi the ER , my doctor finally gave me opioids to help give me relief. symptoms you didn’t mention was confusion and unsteadiness on your feet. The pressure I feel is so overwhelming , I feel as if my head is going to explode.
I’ve had 2 sinus surgeries with no relief, in fact , the scar tissue makes it worse.
I recommend the app, pressure tracker. It helps me Prepare.
After reading your blog post I browsed your website a bit and noticed you aren’t ranking nearly as well in Google as you could be. I possess a handful of blogs myself and I think you should use speed rank seo, just search it on google. You’ll find it’s a very nice service that can bring you a lot more visitors. Keep up the quality posts!
Thank you Madaline, I appreciate your support.
I’ve suffered for over 40 years with these. I’ve been thi several doctors who have never really helped me. After numerous trips thi the ER , my doctor finally gave me opioids to help give me relief. symptoms you didn’t mention was confusion and unsteadiness on your feet. The pressure I feel is so overwhelming , I feel as if my head is going to explode.
I’ve had 2 sinus surgeries with no relief, in fact , the scar tissue makes it worse.
I recommend the app, pressure tracker. It helps me Prepare.
I have been suffering from “sinus” headaches for 30 years. I also have migraines which are easily recognized. My sinus headaches are always caused by low barometric pressure. They get so severe that pseudoephedrine doesn’t help. After reviewing your chart I’m positive they are a different type of migraine and I’m taking your chart to my doctor to discuss a new treatment. Thank you so much for this information.
I’m glad this helped Angela. Hopefully the doctor can confirm your diagnosis and give you an appropriate treatment plan. All the best.
My issue is fairly complicated. I was diagnosed with chronic migraines a month ago, and yet every MRI and cat scan i have done has come back showing significant sinus disease. When my headaches started abruptly in January, they were debilitating, on the left side of my head, and only sleep seemed to calm it down, if i could go to sleep. After numerous tests and diagnoses, the neurologist thought it was chronic migraine, but did not really have an explanation as to what was setting it off. I am on Amitriptyline for prevention, and so far the headaches have not gotten terrible, but the pain/pressure always remains. I started physical therapy, where they seem to think it is mostly jaw related. That seems to have helped the most i think so far. I did get an ENT consult, and the doctor emphasized that all the scans repeatedly shown sinus problems in the areas where i feel pain the most. I will start on steroids and antibiotics to see if it helps. I continue to keep trying multiple things to see what sticks, but it has been very frustating. I have never had continuous headaches before, and would rarely turn to meds before. It’s my fourth month with a headache that doesn’t end. I was extremely active, and now can’t even do chores for too long. I do believe i had migraines at some point, because i had nausea and light sensitivity. But the abortive migraine medication doesn’t stop it when it gets really bad (rizatriptan, compazine). Currently i have pain and pressure mostly on my left side, but no nausea or light sensitivity. I am hoping the sinus issue resolves soon,
Hi Sameena, that does sound tricky. First it’s important to know that migraine can evolve over time and additional conditions can also occur simultaneously. I.e. it is very possible to have sinusitis and migraine and the same time. It’s even possible that your sinus issues are causing inflammation and making you more susceptible to and causing more migraine attacks. If you have genuine pathology in the sinus then it makes sense to treat that and reduce the inflammation. Fingers crossed the steroids and antibiotics help in that effort. If there is still no results then is still hope, but it might mean the headache has evolved into another type.
I have dealt with what I thought were sinus headaches for as long as I can remember. No OTC pain medications or allergy/sinus medications work and I just have to wait it out until the pressure subsides. This can be 1-3 days. The pain and pressure always occurs on the right side under my right eye. Moist heat can be helpful when applied with pressure. I find rainy weather, lack of hydration and as little as one glass of wine (but not every time I drink wine) can trigger these headaches. The pain comes and goes throughout the day. I am only slightly congested. After reading this article I wonder if I’ve had migraines all along.
Hi Kathy, based on your description I wonder that too. Sounds like it would be worth visiting the doctor. With a little effort and understanding about migraine you may be able to make a dramatic improvement in your condition. Good luck!
I have had a headache in my right temple at least once a week for past 8 years or so. With no relief, I recently discovered that 2 advil cold and sinus (with sudafed) and 1 500mg tylenol taken at the same time will normally give me some relief or even get rid of it for several days. No clue what this means…I have no nausea or light sensitivity…just the sharp miserable pain.
Hi Megan, it sounds like you are taking a decongestant with a pain killer. Sometimes a decongestant can assist with a stimulus (the sinus) that may be triggering a migraine attack or headache. Given you only get partial relief, it may be worth getting a prescription for a triptan from your doctor and see if you respond better. If so, it’s migraine. If migraine, then there are certainly ways to help prevent your weekly attacks.
Two months ago I had sinus symptoms with congestion and headache. I have had sinus issues for years but never bad headaches that wouldn’t respond to regular pain medications. I started having sensitivity to light, but more of a sensation where the light intensified the pressure feeling behind my eyes and not so much eye pain. I also have a constant “groggy eyed” feeling. When I lie down and close my eyes it feels like my eyes push at the pressure center and increases the pain. I had my eyes checked by a doctor but she found all was fine. However, sometimes I’ll just have the pressure feeling but if I read something suddenly a sharp pain will come on too besides the pressure. I have this constant “umbrella” of ache on my head. A CT of my sinuses also came back fine.
I was lucky to get a quick appointment with a neurologist that specializes in headaches who put me on hydroxyzine as a preventative. She said that new studies show that migraines can release histamine which mimics sinus issues. I’ve been on it for a couple of days and it has helped but by the afternoon the headaches start to come back. I don’t to take extreme migraine meds but don’t know what else to do. I had thought of seeing an allergist but not sure if there would be any connections to allergies. I’d like some advice on what else I should do.
Hi Susan, step 1 is to make sure you have the right diagnosis and a good understanding of your condition. This was a fascinating interview on exactly the topic of sinuses, allergies and migraine. You can preview the first 8 mins of the interview here: https://www.migraineworldsummit.com/public-2018-vince-martin/
People often confuse migraine and sinus headaches or they don’t know about it. Because they have striking similarities between them. And I agree that most people who suffers from sinus headaches are actually suffering from migraine.
I suspect a lot of men fall into this category.
Very insightful post. In my experience as a ENT doctor, I find that patients with nose and sinus problems may present with many different types of symptoms. Some of these include: Blocked nose (nasal obstruction), Runny nose (nasal discharge or postnasal drip), Facial pain, Headaches, Reduction/loss of sense of smell (hyposmia/anosmia), Snoring, Nose bleeds (epistaxis), Broken / misshapen nose, Watery eyes (epiphora) and Tiredness/lethargy. As you pointed out, there is a lot of crossover between these symptoms and the symptoms of migraines.
Thank you Dr. San Sunkaraneni for your feedback and insights. Very useful for us to know.
It has been almost 2 years since my first ever migraine. My life is so different now. I thought I had chronic dry eye problems, realize it is migraine. Thought I had chronic neck problem, realize it is migraine. Thought I had sinus issues….migraine. I spend 50% of my days with a migraine. It is miserable. Dr. Has proscribed rizotriptan to help but it doesn’t quite seem to shake the migraines. I suffer with these headaches every day and I just wish there was something that could prevent them!!
Hi Heather, while there is no cure for migraine there are many treatments, therapies, and strategies that can be used to help prevent migraine attacks.
Hi Carl please can you email me the list on non medicinal tools you mentioned for migraine? Thanks
Articles like this led me totally astray for years with pain. I thought my one sided headache must be a migraine, because that’s what every article like this says. Turns out it *was* a sinus headache, on one side, and I had it almost my entire life. It was probably fungal, not bacterial, so antibiotics never helped. My gums were also infected, with very mild gingivitis, and that was enough to make my sinuses inflamed and stuffy all the time.
Please don’t tell people that their sinus headaches are migraines.
Hi Claudia, thank you for your comment. It is true and if you read the article you’ll notice that it mentions 9 out of 10. Of course, 1 in 10 of everyone with sinus headache is a still big number and so of course people should be aware of that. However, unfortunately, the fact remains that the vast majority of people who have been diagnosed with “sinus headache” have been misdiagnosed. This is far larger than the number of people who have been diagnosed with migraine who have misdiagnosed and instead really have some type of fungal infection or another condition arising from the sinuses. An article should never replace a doctor’s visit or confirm a diagnosis.
Hi, I’ve dealt with headaches as long as I can remember. They almost always occur on the weekends for some reason but other times the weather brings them on. And light makes them worse. My head will throb and it feels like sinus pressure. After reading this, I’m going to go see my doctor. I’m suspecting now that I’ve actually been dealing with migrains all these years.
Wesley many people, especially teachers, experience let down migraine attacks in the holidays or weekends due to the change in stress levels. Another common migraine trigger is a change habits during the weekend. Thing changes to sleep patterns, alcohol consumption, or delayed caffeine routines etc. Good luck with your doctor!
I am very happy I have found this site.
Reading some of your experiences is like listening to myself!
I have had headaches since I was a toddler.
All through school, university, first jobs, having children, now I’m 44years old and they are worse than ever.
Every week now I have a sinus margarine for about 3days.
Pressure in the bridge of my nose and radiates out to cheeks. Pain like electrical currents into my ear and teeth. Sore puffy eyes. Tight pressure across my forehead. Sore neck and shoulders as if I have been carrying heavy bags for a whole day.
I spend so much time in bed….or just taking medication and trying to put a brave face on and get on with family and work life. It makes me so irritable and depressed.
So fed up with it. People think I’m overreacting, complaining, moaning. My family are fed up with my constant headaches too! I could cry.
I recently had an intolerance food test. Seems I am allergic/intolerant to so many things. Potatoes, soya, lentils, cashews, brewers yeast, and many others….
So I am trying this to see…cuting all the major intolerant foods out for 3months. Boring diet right now, but worth a go! Three weeks in and I’m in bed right now with a pounding headache and excruciating sinus pain.
I need a head transplant!
Reducing intolerances may or may not help with migraine. I tried it and it helped but I think mostly because I was eating healthier. Generally, I’ve found less processed foods I eat, the better my migraine (and overall) wellbeing.
Thanks for sharing content about sinus infection.
My pleasure. I hope it helped.
Very informative blog.
I have had intractable migraines since the late 70s (before the phrase “intractable migraines” was a concept. I often have headaches that start as classic sinus headaches (I have many, many allergies & a severely deviated septum) & progress to classic migraines, with agony, severe photophobia, & uncontrollable vomiting. I have been to literally at least 15 neurologists about the headaches, not one could offer any real relief. Most, however, have sworn up & down that a sinus headache cannot possibly be a trigger. Of course, two of them –these were actual neurologists– swore that migraines did not actually exist (one insisted they were just things women made up to avoid sex. Needless to say, didn’t go back to that one).
Off the top of my head, I can name 19 known migraine triggers (in alphabetical order); alcohol,
allergies, barometric pressure changes, caffeine, dehydration, exercise (lack of), exercise (excess), foods, food additives, hormones, jet lag, scents, sex/orgasm, sleep (too much), sleep (too little),
sounds, stress, stress (cessation of: “Friday afternoon migraine”), visual stimuli.
Given this extensive catalog of known triggers,* why is it so impossible for so many physicians to believe that sinus headaches could trigger a migraine? Do they just love to ignore new information as well as sneering at patients? b/c Lord knows, I’ve gotten a lifetime’s worth of sneers.
*& I know it’s not anywhere near a complete list.
*& there are by no means all!
The migraine advocacy community are working to change some appalling and outdated attitudes by some doctors. Fortunately, these are the minority these days. But there is still much work to be done. Sinus pain or even sinus inflammation can be a trigger to migraine. Almost anything could be a migraine trigger. Inflammation we know is a factor. Many people who get the flu may also find it can make them more vulnerable to a migraine attack. This may be linked to heightened levels of inflammation. Allergies that can inflame the sinus could also work in a similar way to trigger attacks. Here is a preview of a fantastic interview with an ENT and headache specialist which you might find interesting.
I have had debilitating migraines since I was a child. Then in my 40’s they went away till about a year and a half ago when they started again. I thought they were sinus is infection because I had two sinus’s surgery’s in 2012 and was told I would have scare tissue at some point so that’s what I thought I had. Went back to my surgeon he did CAT scan in my sinuses book your plate we clear and he said I was having sinus migraines. Sent me to neurologist Who prescribed you Ublvery Which doesn’t work. Some days I would rather die than wake up.
Hi Christina, unfortunately with migraine there is not anyone treatment that works for everyone but there are lots of different options available. If you that treatment didn’t work, I’d go back to your doctor and tell him, especially if you’ve given it a fair chance of working. He should be aware of other options.
Asking questions are really good thing if you are not understanding something
fully, but this piece of writing gives pleasant understanding even.
Ive had typical migraines for many years, been evaluated by a neurologist, had an MRI, even went through a short period on topomax (which impaired my cognitive function severely, so I had to stop). I’ve been having what I thought were sinus issues for the last 5 years (since pregnancy). I stopped having typical migraines during pregnancy and my OB mentioned that rhinitis was a common pregnancy issue and that I shouldn’t worry about it, but it has persisted since then, causing debilitating sinus pain. My doctor referred me to an ENT who found nothing wrong, had allergy tests and CT scan and his diagnosis was “some people just have non-allergic chronic rhinitis.” I even told my doctor and the ENT that the sinus pressure/headaches were so bad they were either mimicking migraines or triggering migraines, so it makes a lot of sense that the sinus pain and pressure is a type of migraine! I would appreciate more information! Thank you.
Hi Cristy, one way that might help is if you start taking medication either acute or preventive for migraine that helps your “sinus issue”. If it works, then you have your answer! Please proceed only under medical supervision.
Hello! Im glad I found this page. I had just 2 migraines in my mid twenties. The first hit me in the middle of the night, so I was unaware of any aura symptoms, just crippling, throbbing pain on left side of head with nausea. My doctor prescribed Imitrex. The second one came a couple weeks later as I was sitting in front of my computer. Letters were completely missing from words on my document, I felt shaky and nauseous. A coworker suggested I was getting a migraine due to the visual disturbances so I drove home to take my medicine and immediately vomited as I stumbled across my apartment. Then came the throbbing pain. I decided to quit the birth control I had been on for a few months and I never had another episode until a couple days ago (roughly 14 years later). This time I had the familiar disappearance of letters, although I didn’t believe I could possibly be experiencing another migraine, so I went on dropping my daughter off at school. I tripped walking in, felt slightly disoriented, mild diffuse headache and nausea. Then 2 fingers on my right hand started going numb, from the tips then spread to the top of my hand then vanished after about 10 minutes. My speech was slightly affected because my tongue felt heavy. Then came dry heaving about 10 minutes later (because I had loss of appetite that morning). I was able to get down Tylenol. But still had Radiating pain in left side of head and completely unable to move from floor to bed because I felt like I was being weighed down.
I feel so much for people that have to experience this more often. Im frustrated because I thought I was in the clear after quitting birth control so long ago. Ive been largely unaffected by headaches for the last decade, until about 9 months ago I had a daily persistent headache, the doctors said it was just sinuses. I was able to get more Imitrex to have in hand, but dreading another coming on. My biggest question right now is, what can cause my fingers to go so numb the tips turn white ?
Hi Mandy, those symptoms about your fingers, maybe your lips, nose or other extremities going numb is due to changes in blood flow that occur during the migraine with aura called the Aura phase. You can read more about it in this article about aura.
I was diagnosed over Teledoc this past Wednesday with A migraine. I had some issues while watching a presentation on a screen with vision/ mistook sickness, then became dizzy, threw up, and then headache became obvious. As I massages my face, it went numb on one side. If I left it alone, the feeling would come back. This all resolved, but head was hurting last night (Saturday) and I rubbed above my eye, nose/ eye area and jaw. Face went numb again for over an hour /Nd had pain in my teeth and through my cheekbones. This morning, much better, but still have slight numbness in the right side of my mouth, feels like it as well behind my teeth. I’m not sure what to do.
Hi Jessica, start learning about migraine and the best practices to manage acute attacks when they occur and also how to prevent them so the frequency does not increase. Reading trustworthy articles and sources is a great start. Good luck!
It is as if you have written this just for me. I have been having what I thought was sinus pain for 25 years which is relieved by pseudephedrine, oblas oil steam inhalation and paracetamol/ibruprofen. I went to see an ENT consultant and he explained this was 90% likely to be migraines rather than sinus pain. I have my CT this weekend to check if I am in the 10%. I have pain this morning so am hoping that it stays until sat so is there when I get scanned. A camera up my nose at first consultation showed a significant deviated septum but NO indication of blockage at sinus emptying point (apologies I can’t remember name of it).
I’m so glad this has helped Isabel. I hope you start finding some relief soon now that you have an accurate diagnosis!
Carl Cincinnati, I see no evidence to back up these symptoms and diagnosis. It looks like a made up theory gone mainstream because of a “study” that evaluated headaches based on the theory and handed out the diagnosis. My problem is ENT doctors believe this in a rigid way so they can tell the patient, “take this drug because you have migraine and not a sinus problem.” In my case I have chronic non-allergic rhinitis and yes that was confirmed by allergist, two of them. Instead of focusing on how to solve my problem, ENTs just say i have migraine because I have no infection as spelled out in your chart. No, I have painful sinus inflammation and pressure.
Hi Charles, you could well be right. The chart is a guide, not a medical diagnosis. Only a qualified doctor can make a diagnosis and ENT specialists should be making a detailed examination to arrive at a diagnosis. The question becomes whether this guide is, on balance, helpful for the majority of patient readers or not who may be misdiagnosed. Given the feedback it seems that is helpful. I’d encourage all readers to do their own research and go into their appointments with their eyes open and questions ready. I hope you find some relief soon Charles.
My whole life (since 2nd grade), I’ve had migraines with optical auras. About 6 years ago, I started have a lot of sinus pressure and then eventually I could start being able to tell when it was going to snow, rain, temperate change you name it. I went to an allergist and I had a little bit of a mold allergy, but that’s it. I’ve taken Allegra and Zyrtec and seen an ENT, and just spent so much money on my “allergies”. So now I see this and WOW. This is a bit mind blowing. I still get aura migraines on other days, so is it possible to have two different kinds of migraines? And my extreme light sensitivity makes sense too. I wonder why saline spray works though? Anyways, my rambling thoughts are just thanking you for making me think twice about everything now lol.
Hi Dana, I’m glad you found this helpful. Yes it is possible to have two different types of migraine. Saline spray helps clear the nostrils and remove irritation. That irritation could be playing a role in triggering attacks. It’s probably not the whole picture but often migraine is a build-up of different triggers that eventually lead to an attack.
I’d love to get your thoughts specific to my situation. Today, I went to an ENT for what I have thought was another sinus infection and for the last two years I’ve been diagnosed with them over and over… At least 10. This one, however, has been the worst. I move my head forward and all the issue seems to run to my face but what is a new (and much scarier) symptom is when I lay down, the pressure rushes to the back of my head and the top of my spine. It’s been 4 days. The ENT looked in my nose and he isn’t seeing much other than a slightly deviated septum. He’s referring me to a neurologist.
I’m not a doctor but there are certain types of high and low pressure headache which can be affected by your position i.e. sitting up versus lying down. The fact that you mentioned the sensation of pressure suggests this could be a consideration. Always best to be examined by a doctor but tell him to consider if it is a high or low pressure headache. The medical name for these are idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) or potentially hypotension.
I am from the Netherlands and wish that I had read your article years ago. I had two treatments for sinusitis, which did not solve the problem. I’ve spend lots of money to all kinds of this to fix my “nose” problem ( nose spray, nose shower with special salt ect,). It all did not help and I have seen 2 different specialist before I have been seen by the best rhinoloog and she told me that this is actually a migraine. After 5 years, I first find it hard to believe and did not find anything in the Dutch literature but I was very happy reading this article that I am not the only one. I am now awaiting my first “sinus headache” to try the migraine medication. Hopefully, it helps. Thanks so much dor your insights! Very helpful! Regards
My pleasure Charlotte, I’m glad you found them helpful. Good luck!