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I have sinus headaches… could it be migraine?

Asian Women In Satin Nightwear Feeling Unwell And Sinus Against White Background

Patients with Migraine

<span style="font-weight: 400;">A migraine is a powerful headache that often happens with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. Migraines can last from 4 hours to 3 days, and sometimes longer.Most people start having migraine headaches between ages 10 and 40. But many women find that their migraines improve or disappear after age 50.</span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Référence : webmd.com, </span></i><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/migraines-headaches-migraines#1</span></i><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">  consulted on july 4</span></i><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">th</span></i><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">,2019.</span></i>
" >migraine [1] are often falsely diagnosed as having sinus headache or “sinusitis”.

Can a sinusitis cause a headache?

YES. A true sinusitis can cause severe headaches, sometimes associated with facial tenderness when the areas over the sinuses are touched or when the person bends over. 

How common is it to have a diagnosis of sinusitis when in the end the problem is really migraine?

Research has shown that three quarters (75%) of headaches thought to be “sinus headaches” are actually migraine, which is important because the treatment of sinusitis and migraine is completely different.

Of course, it is also possible for a person with migraine to have a true bacterial sinusitis, but usually the headache will feel quite different from the usual migraine. 

How can we make the difference between a sinusitis and migraine?

Is it possible for sinus inflammation to trigger migraine?

The migrainous brain is sensitive to external stimuli. Patients having migraines with sinusal symptoms (nasal congestion, allergies, pain in the sinus area) may also have migraines that are triggered by sinus irritation to start with. 

Is it possible for a migraine to cause symptoms in the sinuses?

Yes. Migraine is caused by an inflammatory soup being released around sensitive structure inside the skull (meninges and arteries). But if the inflammation [2] goes to the nerves of the sinuses, it could in theory cause symptoms and pain there too. 

This two-way relationship between the migraine brain and another head zone is a common example of the Ping Pong theory. (See this post [3])

In summary, if you think you have recurrent sinus headaches, you may actually have migraine.  It is important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor to get the right treatment. 

Eross E, Dodick D, Eross M. The Sinus, Allergy and Migraine Study (SAMS). Headache. 2007;47(2):213-24.