If you’ve ever experienced what most people colloquially refer to as a “sinus headache,” then you may have wondered if your headache is directly related to your allergies. A 2016 study published in Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports discusses the relationship between seasonal allergies and chronic headaches. According to previous studies, which lay the foundation for this 2016 report, roughly 90% of headaches that patients claim are “sinus headaches” are actually undiagnosed migraines. However, that means that about 10% of those suffering from chronic headaches could actually be treated if their allergies were targeted as an underlying cause.
How do allergies cause headaches?
The reason for your allergy-related headache depends on the cause of your allergies. According to Healthline, if the cause is allergic rhinitis (hay fever), then it is most likely pain related to the initial allergy. Actual sinus headaches are far rarer. These are caused by congestion built-up along the sinus passages and are characterized by dull to moderate pain felt behind the cheekbones, eyes, and forehead. If your doctor suspects a sinus headache, they will often apply light pressure to those points and ask if your discomfort increases when you lean forward. In some, but not all cases, nasal discharge will present as yellow-to-green rather than clear.
Alternatively, if your headache is caused by a histamine reaction in response to typical allergens, such as pet dander, then it is most likely related to the histamines themselves. As part of their well-meaning effort to open your body’s floodgates to increased white blood cell traffic, Medline Plus explains that histamines don’t just cause inflammation. They also decrease your blood pressure, which can cause a headache without any other contributing factors.
Treating the Underlying Cause
If you’re concerned that your chronic headaches may be related to allergies, then speak with your local allergy specialist. Dr. Mayank Shukla serves New York City as a practicing pulmonologist with specializations in allergies, asthma, and sleep disorders. As part of his complete testing and treatment program, Dr. Shukla is able to provide real solutions to patients in the form of knowledge.
By figuring out the root cause of your allergies as well as your most severe triggers, you and your allergy specialist can put you on the appropriate treatments for your symptoms, reducing the level at which your allergies affect your daily life while also allowing you to recognize and avoid the triggers that are most likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Despite what you might think, allergy treatment options are not limited to oral medications. Although anti-histamines, decongestants, leukotriene inhibitors, and mast cell inhibitors do often feature as part of a personalized treatment plan, you will also find that immunotherapy, nasal sprays, and dehumidifiers can play an equal part in getting your allergies under control.
When you first meet with your allergy specialist, be open to experimentation. Trial and error is part of the process when you’re trying to find the right combination of treatments that give you the most relief. Follow your doctor’s instructions, and always be honest about any reservations you may have. It’s better for your doctor to know you don’t plan on following part of their treatment and have the chance to explain its importance to you than have them assume their treatment plan simply isn’t working.
Controlling allergies to preserve quality of life
If you suffer from moderate to severe allergies, then you know it isn’t a laughing matter. Even the most innocent symptoms can severely impact your quality of life and your ability to interact normally. Speak with an allergist today to start treating your symptoms and enjoying your life again.