Understanding the Connection Between Allergies and Headaches

Updated
Updated

When people talk about allergy symptoms, they often mention the most common ones: a stuffy nose, constant sneezing, teary and itchy eyes, and congestion.

However, allergies can cause more symptoms than just those. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you might also experience headaches and pressure in your nose, forehead, and cheeks.

Headaches can be the result of many different things, so how do you know if your headache is caused by your allergies or something else? Keep reading to find out!

What Causes Allergy Headaches?

Allergies often result in headaches. Some people may refer to these as tension headaches, sinus headaches, or even rhinosinusitis.

These headaches develop because allergies tend to produce a lot of nasal congestion. This congestion leads to swelling in your sinus cavities, which blocks the orifices and doesn’t allow drainage. This combination causes pressure to build up and, eventually, a headache.

Can Allergies Trigger a Migraine?

If you develop headaches during allergy season, it may not be a sinus headache. There’s a chance you may be suffering from a migraine.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, allergies, commonly known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, can increase your migraine chances. Consider the following:

  • According to one study, migraine headaches affect 34% of patients with hay fever but just 4% of those without.
  • According to another study, people who suffer from migraines and allergies have a higher frequency of migraines. Headaches were 14-28% more common in migraine and hay fever sufferers than in migraine sufferers alone.

It's uncertain whether an allergy flare-up is the root of the migraine, but this research shows that migraines and allergies frequently accompany each other.

How Do I Know if My Headache Is from Allergies?

When you’re continuously reaching for tissues, it's easy to presume that you're suffering from a sinus headache. However, things aren't always so simple.

Forty-five percent of migraine sufferers reported having at least one allergy-like symptom, such as watery eyes or a stuffy nose. These symptoms make it more difficult to distinguish between an actual sinus headache and a migraine caused by allergies.

But how can you tell what headaches from allergies feel like? The following are some signs and symptoms of an allergy headache:

  • Fatigue
  • Blocked nose
  • Pain that gets worse when you lean forward or lie down
  • Slight pain in your upper teeth
  • Pressure, pain, and puffiness in your cheeks, forehead, or brow

Migraines and allergy headaches share similar symptoms but have distinct features that differentiate them. They usually develop in the same location, such as the top or front of the head. A migraine, on the other hand, usually has a few other symptoms, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to noise, light, touch, and scent

If you're suffering from these symptoms, you likely have an allergy-related migraine rather than a sinus headache.

How Do I Treat an Allergy Headache?

When you’re suffering from what may be an allergy headache, there are things you can do to lessen your discomfort. Try these tips to relieve the tension and pressure in your head:

  • Clear out your sinuses using a neti pot or saline nasal spray
  • Taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen over-the-counter pain medication
  • Drink plenty of fluids to thin your mucus
  • Apply a warm, moist washcloth to the face and forehead

If you'd rather be proactive than reactive, find the right medication to prevent your allergy symptoms and take it before your symptoms develop. You’ll be less likely to suffer from a painful headache with less congestion and swelling in your nasal passages.

Fix Your Allergies from Home with Wyndly

If you are ready to treat your allergies and improve your headaches, choose Wyndly. At Wyndly, our allergy doctor will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that provides long-term from your allergy symptoms.

To begin, take our two-minute assessment and be one step closer to a life free from allergies!

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