Difference between Migraine and Sinus Headaches

difference between a Migraine Headache and Sinus Headache

Many people often confuse migraine headaches with sinus headache or the other way around. It should be understood that these are 2 different types of headaches.

Each of these types needs to be diagnosed correctly and needs special treatment.

It is a fact that:

Migraine headaches are many times wrongly diagnosed as sinus headache
In more than 90% of the cases, a self-diagnosed sinus headache is migraine headaches
Migraine headaches are accompanied by pain in the forehead and face while sinus headache with nasal congestion and runny nose.

What is a sinus headache?

Sinus Headache is a very common headache type among many people. The most common symptoms of sinus headache are:

Facial pain and pressure.
Nasal and sinus congestion.
Intense or mild headache.

There are a number of drugs available for the cure and relief of sinus headache. The use of these drugs is to provide relief and ease the symptoms of sinus headache especially the pain in the face and the nasal congestion.

What is the difference between a Migraine Headache and Sinus Headache?

As mentioned above, people often confuse migraine headaches with a sinus headache. Recent research showed that a number of people who were diagnosed as suffering from sinus headache, they were actually suffering from migraine headaches. Both of these headaches types are confused. The most common confusion is to diagnose migraine headaches as a sinus headache.

A sinus headache is actually not so common as initially thought. Sinus headache is due to a viral sinus infection which is accompanied with nasal discharge, limited or no smell at all, pain in the face, high pressure and most probably fever.

The pain from a sinus headache can be treated with antibiotics. In case antibiotics do not provide relief then the pain may be due to other factors and a specialist should asses the situation again.

Another recent study about sinus and migraine headaches defined a sinus headache as a migraine with sinus symptoms. In the study participated more than 3000 patients who had frequent sinus headaches in the last 6 months.

All patients were never diagnosed with migraine headaches but only with a sinus headache, neither did they ever took migraine headache specific medication.

After a thorough diagnosis of the above cases, it was found that almost 90% of the case previously diagnosed as sinus headache had actually migraine headaches.

Also Read: Migraine Headache Types and Symptoms

Patients shared some common symptoms that led people to believe that there were suffering from sinus headache. These were: pain in the face, nasal and sinus congestion and finally pressure. The patients also exposed other symptoms that are closer to migraine headaches symptoms. These are:

2.Sensitivity to bright light and loud noise
3.Moderate to intense pain

Most of the patients participating in the study were getting relief from sinus headache by using nasal sprays for nasal congestion and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Most of them though did not get any relief using this kind of treatment and the simple reason was that most of them did not suffer from sinus headache but from migraine headaches. It was migraines who made the symptoms look like a sinus headache.

Another study proved the above relationship between migraine headaches and sinus headaches. Common sinus symptoms very often accompany migraines.  In 45% of patients suffering from migraine headaches had at least a symptom of nasal congestion or watery eyes.

It should be noted here that if the symptoms are due to migraine headache then they will be resolved using medication specific to migraine headaches treatment.

In order to be able to distinguish between a migraine headache and a sinus headache you can answer the following questions:

1. What was the severity of your headaches for the last 3 months? Did the headaches had an impact on your way of life and daily activities?
2. Did nausea accompany your headaches?
3. When you had a headache, did you had extra sensitivity to bright lights and loud sounds?

In the case that you answer yes to at least 2 of the above questions then most likely you are suffering from migraine headaches and not a sinus headache. If the answer to all the above questions is true then almost certainly you are suffering from migraines.

In any case, if you believe that your sinus headache is actually migraines then you should get assistance from your doctor to help you make a proper diagnosis and provide you with the correct medication.

To sum up, it is proven that most of the times a sinus headache is just a migraine headache with sinus symptoms.

Being familiar with this can help you get the proper diagnosis and get the right treatment for the relief of the headache. Finally, by doing a correct diagnosis and treatment of Migraine Headache, you will be able to improve your quality of life and keep away the problems that a headache can create to your day to day activities.

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