Migraine or Sinus Headache?

Chicago Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology specialist, Dr. Brian Rotskoff, helps patients unlock the cause of their chronic headaches and enjoy life without pain.

Aug 09, 2012, 14:22 ET from clarityallergycenter.com

CHICAGO, Aug. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Headache disruptions in our daily routine and work productivity are common; the occasional headache plagues us all. But those who suffer from chronic headaches are desperate for relief from their frequent and disabling headache symptoms. Americans spend countless hours and dollars seeking migraine headache relief from over-the-counter pain medication, natural remedies, migraine prescription drugs, and trips to doctors and emergency rooms. Understanding sinus vs. migraine headaches can be very challenging, according to Dr. Brian Rotskoff, Chicago asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), and adult sleep apnea expert.

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However, those who believe they suffer from chronic sinus headaches may actually be experiencing migraines. Clarity Allergy Center's Dr. Rotskoff is an adult and pediatric allergy, asthma, and immunology specialist who teaches his patients that lasting headache relief can only be achieved through proper diagnosis. "Studies show almost 90% of patients with sinus headaches are misdiagnosed by their physician," he said,  "Many patients are treated with frequent courses of antibiotics, anti-histamines/decongestants, allergy shots, and even sinus surgery. But the majority of these patients could actually have migraine headaches and not sinus problems. It can be very confusing and difficult to distinguish between a sinus headache and a migraine headache." 

What's more, patients with allergies may be up to 10 times more likely to have migraines. 

What Causes Headaches?

"Sinus headaches create such a buzz that when people suffer from frequent headaches over their forehead and cheeks, they're quick to blame their sinuses," says Dr. Rotskoff, "But before we can assume the headache is caused by a sinus or allergy problem, we have to dig deeper and look for the possibility of a migraine headache. For lasting relief, we have to address the source of the headache."

Migraine headaches, considered primary headaches, are typically caused by neurogenic or vascular changes that affect blood vessels or changes in serotonin levels. A family history of migraines can significantly increase your likelihood of suffering from them.

A sinus headache, on the other hand, is actually caused by a bacterial infection of the sinuses.  "This may occur on a chronic basis or as an acute problem, simply arising from a cold or acute bacterial sinus infection," Dr. Rotskoff explains.  Head pain caused by a sinus infection will respond to a course of antibiotics and treatment for any underlying allergies, if present. 

Dr. Rotskoff stresses that professional diagnosis is key to not only unlocking your headaches, but also applying the right mix of prevention and treatment strategies.

Symptoms of a Migraine

  • Pulsating, throbbing headaches often on one side of head
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Nausea, possibly with vomiting
  • Blurred vision

Symptoms of a Sinus Headache

  • Discolored (greenish/yellow) nasal discharge
  • Decreased sense of smell and nasal stuffiness/congestion
  • Accompanying sore throat or cough
  • Fever (only during an acute infection)
  • Pain and/or pressure over cheeks and forehead

Dr. Rotskoff dedicates a significant part of his practice to accurate headache diagnosis and the most appropriate headache remedies, many of which are natural in origin. If you have been unsuccessful in preventing and treating your chronic headaches, contact Clarity Allergy Center 773-877-3500 or www.clarityallergycenter.com for an expert and thorough headache analysis in Dr. Rotskoff's Chicago or Arlington Heights office. He is conveniently accessible from Lincolnwood, IL, Skokie, IL, Park Ridge, IL, Morton Grove, IL, and Niles, IL, Mount Prospect, IL, Palatine, IL, Elk Grove, IL, Buffalo Grove, IL, Bartlett, IL, Lake Zurich, IL, Schaumburg, IL, and Elgin, IL.

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