Posted on by Village Green Nutrition Team
If you experience headaches, it can sometimes be difficult to know whether it's a migraine, sinus headache, or neither. It's important to learn how to differentiate various types of headaches and understand the factors or triggers that can cause them. Here we’ll discuss the similarities and differences between sinus headaches and migraines, as well as their symptoms and ways to manage them.
If you are struggling with frequent or very painful headaches, it is strongly advised that you seek the guidance of a medical professional.
What is a Sinus Headache?
A sinus headache is the result of built-up sinus pressure. This pressure is created in excess due to blocked sinuses from mucus congestion. As pressure builds up, it becomes difficult for the sinuses to drain properly, causing inflammation.
This inflammation can result in pain in the sinus cavities, which can resemble a normal headache. Sinus headaches are common in people who have seasonal allergies. Sometimes, a sinus headache can be followed by a sinus infection, which can last a few weeks or more.
Symptoms of a Sinus Headache
Here are some of the common symptoms of a sinus headache:
- The feeling of pressure behind the eyes
- Constant pain in the cheekbones, temples, upper teeth and eyes
- Fever and shivers
- Swelling and puffiness in the face
- Headaches with the feeling of congestion
- Throbbing feels worse when you bend over
If your sinus headache includes a sinus infection, you may also have some of the following symptoms, as well:
- Yellow or green mucus discharge
- Blocked nasal ways
- Dry cough
- Postnasal drip
If you suspect that you have a sinus infection and it persists for more than a few days, please check with your healthcare provider.
Why Does a Sinus Headache Happen?
The question remains: how does a sinus blockage lead to a headache? It's important to understand that your sinuses are hollow nasal cavities that are regularly filled with air. They make mucus that drains into the nose, helping to keep the nose moist and free of dust and germs.
Healthy sinuses need to maintain airflow. Otherwise, a blockage may happen, which can result in inflammation and allow for pathogens to thrive. Since there are four pairs of sinus cavities in the skull, a sinus headache can cause a person to feel pain in their head, face, and/or around their eyes.
Sinus headaches can be very painful and cause a person to feel "stuffed up."
Ways to Address a Sinus Headache
If you're experiencing a sinus headache, the good news is that there are some effective natural options that you can try, including:
- Use a sinus nasal spray, nasal irrigator, or sinus essential oil inhalation to help open your nasal passages and relieve nasal pressure
- Drink more water
- Use a humidifier
- Use your index fingers and apply pressure on both nostrils for better relief
- Hum your favorite song to vibrate your sinus bones and clear your head
- Put a warm compress over your sinuses
- Drink herbal teas, such as peppermint, chamomile, ginger, etc.
- Limit your intake of inflammatory foods, such processed foods, sweets and dairy products
- Follow our protocol for cold and sinus infection relief
What is a Migraine?
A migraine is a headache that can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. They tend to be very painful headaches that can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Often, nausea and high sensitivities to light and sound accompany migraines.
While you can sometimes work and go about your daily life with a small headache, a migraine is almost always more severe. If a migraine is debilitating or persists for more than three days with over-the-counter medications, you should contact your physician.
Why Does a Migraine Happen?
There isn't any conclusive data about why migraines happen. Older theories suggested that the ebbs and flows in blood flow to the brain were a possible cause until modern research debunked it.
Nowadays, modern researchers believe that hormones, food allergies and sensitivities, GI disorders, inflammation, stress, genetics, environmental and lifestyle factors can all play a role in triggering migraines.
For example, when estrogen levels fluctuate in women, it can result in a migraine. Unlike a sinus headache, the cause of a migraine isn't conclusive and can stem from a variety of reasons.
Symptoms of a Migraine
Migraines can be a bit tricky to diagnose. Generally, migraines can progress in four different stages: prodrome, aura, attack and postdrome. While not everyone will experience these stages, here are some possible symptoms for each.
This stage happens a few days before a migraine. Warnings signs can develop into symptoms such as:
- Food cravings
- Constant yawning
- Fluid retention
- Increased urination
- Mood changes
This stage can take place during a migraine, with symptoms building up and lasting for at least an hour. Symptoms in this stage may include:
- Vision loss
- Difficulty speaking
- Numbness in the face
- Visual distortions, such as seeing shapes and flashes of light
This stage is known as the time the migraine "strikes" or happens. If left untreated, a migraine can strike randomly and last for several hours or much longer. During a migraine, you may experience these symptoms:
- Pain, usually on one side of your head (but can occur on both)
- Throbbing or pulsating pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- High sensitivity to light and sounds
After a migraine attack, you may either feel weak or fine again. However, an attack can happen again during sudden head movements. This stage is known as the calm down period of a migraine, but it's not necessarily the end in most cases.
How to Address a Migraine
Medications may be necessary to effectively deal with long-term migraines. Working with a healthcare professional can provide guidance for nutritional support, including specific diet modifications and nutrients, as well as lifestyle habits that can be helpful.
Some individuals rely on over-the-counter medications, such as:
- Pain-relieving medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc)
- Anti-nausea drugs
It's important to understand that headaches can be a serious health problem, and migraines in particular, may need medical care. If you have recurring migraines, contact your doctor.
For More Guidance
Contact our team at Village Green to learn more about ways we can help you, including further information on effective sinus relief products. Our staff includes pharmacists, nutritionists, naturopathic doctors and clinical herbalists available to guide customers in finding the right solutions for their unique health needs.
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