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Sinus Headache vs. Migraine

You may be surprised to hear that many people who think they are suffering from a sinus headache are actually suffering from a migraine. According to the American Migraine Foundation, 90% of self-diagnosed sinus headaches turn out to be migraines when professionally tested. While the two share some similarities, they are quite different concerning what causes them and how to properly seek treatment.

Sinus headaches are surprisingly rare, yet people report them to their doctors on a recurring basis. “True” sinus headaches only occur alongside an advanced sinus infection. Migraines, on the other hand, are a neurological condition that may affect someone repeatedly throughout the year without warning.

Sinus Headache Symptoms:

  • Sinus infection
  • Thick nasal mucus
  • Congestion
  • Facial pain around sinuses
  • Fever

Migraine Symptoms:

  • Throbbing head pain, usually behind the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Nausea

The congestion caused by a sinus infection may cause a headache, which may be why these two conditions are often confused for one another. In the same token, migraines may sometimes cause congestion, leading to further confusion. Essentially, if your headache is not paired with a fever or thick mucus, it is most likely a migraine. 

Misdiagnosing these two conditions is a real problem for the health world. Your doctor may be prescribing antibiotics for your “sinus headache” when you are actually suffering from a migraine. That means you may have unnecessarily taken antibiotics, weakening your immune system, and contributing to the formation of “superbugs.” 

Superbugs are bacteria that have gained resistance to antibiotics, making them stronger and more likely to be infectious and deadly to the general population. 

If you have recurring headaches, talk with your doctor about the possibility of migraines. For chronic, recurring sinus infections, call the Ear and Sinus Institute at (817) 406-1581 to learn about treatment options.

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