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A headache isn't just a headache. Headaches can have different causes but feel remarkably similar because of an overlap in symptoms between headache types. Being able to identify the types of headaches, whether it's a migraine, a tension headache or a headache that begins in your sinuses will help you choose the right remedy to find relief. Not sure how to tell which is which? Understanding a bit about the signs and symptoms can help:
Scientists are still not quite sure what causes migraine headaches. Current evidence indicates that their cause may be neurological in nature. These headaches typically occur on one side of the head. They are often accompanied by nausea, light sensitivity and vision disturbances. Because they are often accompanied by nasal congestion or a runny nose, they can sometimes be mistaken for sinus headaches. This type of headache tends to run in families. If you have a relative who suffers them, your chances of developing them is higher. There is also an environmental factor; some people find that certain scents or certain foods trigger their migraines. While some individuals find relief using over the counter medication, others find that they require prescription pain relievers and migraine medications.
Tension headaches are extremely common, affecting around one in three adults at some point. These headaches typically involve dull pain that can show up across the scalp, in the forehead or in the neck or jaw. The pain is typically felt on both sides of your head at the same time. Stress is considered the most common cause of tension headaches. Often, people can find relief using over the counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Massage, cold or hot compresses and relaxation techniques can also help.
A sinus headache occurs when your sinus membranes are inflamed and sensitive. This can be the result of allergies, congestion or a sinus infection. This sort of headache is typically felt above the sinuses. You may feel pain and pressure in your face and forehead. The pain may even radiate down into your teeth if there is pressure on the nerves that give sensation to your upper teeth. Often, you can tell if what you have is a sinus headache because decongestants and antihistamines provide relief. "Used in conjunction with over the counter pain relievers, these medications can often provide sinus headache relief," says Dr. Shah. "However, in some cases, prescription medications to clear up bacterial infections are needed." Underlying causes such as sinus irregularities or seasonal allergies can make sinus headaches more frequent and more painful. When you are able to positively identify the source of your pain, you are closer to finding persistent relief. At American Sinus Institute, we are dedicated to diagnosing the cause of your symptoms and creating plans of care to address it. Are you suffering frequent or severe headaches? Get in touch for a consultation today.