Allergy Sinus Headaches

July 18, 2016
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There is a common misconception that any headache affecting the front of the head or over the sinuses must be related to the sinuses. In reality, frontal headaches are most often a type of migraine. Anyone experiencing persistent headaches that appear to originate in the sinuses should consult a doctor for a thorough evaluation to determine the exact cause since treatments vary depending on the type of headache.

Types of Allergy and Sinus Headaches:

Allergies can lead to chronic inflammation of the nasal passages called rhinosinusitis, which can result in chronic headaches in some patients. Doctors use the following criteria to diagnose a true rhinosinusitis headache:

• The allergy symptoms and headache appear at the same time.
• The headache is located in the front of the head and causes pain at multiple points involving the teeth, ears, and face.
• The headache goes away after allergy symptoms resolve or with treatment with allergy medications or immunotherapy.

Allergy testing is the best way to identify the source of your allergy and to effectively manage your symptoms. Treatment options include avoiding known or suspected allergens, prescription or over-the-counter medications, and immunotherapy. Immunotherapy typically involves shots to gradually desensitize you to your known allergens. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new form of immunotherapy called sublingual immunotherapy allergy tablets, or SLIT. This type of immunotherapy involves administering tablets containing the allergens under the tongue on a daily basis.

Frontal headaches are also often misdiagnosed as sinusitis. Sinusitis is a specific diagnosis involving a bacterial infection of the sinuses. Antibiotics are prescribed to treat the infection. Steroids, decongestants, and steam can be used to reduce inflammation and open up blocked nasal passages.

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Dr. Chacko and Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN. See the video here.