February 9, 2021

Allergy Headaches & How to Treat Them

We know that allergies can cause a whole host of symptoms: sneezing, runny nose, congestion, and even hives. But did you know that an allergy headache is also a symptom?

That’s right! Amongst the many symptoms, headaches are often one of the most forgotten symptoms. You may experience headaches and pain if your sinuses are swollen or their openings are obstructed. This often happens with allergies. Swelling and blockage in the sinuses can prevent normal drainage and airflow, causing a buildup of pressure. Let’s talk about why you might experience a headache from allergies, headache triggers, and allergy headache relief and treatment.

Can Allergies Cause Headaches?

Yes! It’s very common to experience headaches from allergies. In fact, allergies can cause two types of headaches, migraine and sinus headaches.The body is a complex system of nerves and hormones that are delicately balanced. When allergies come into contact with your body, your immune system can react and upset the balance, resulting in symptoms such as headaches. 

Migraine Headaches From Allergies

A common headache from allergies is a migraine headache. In fact, one study found that migraines occurred in 34% of people who have allergies. It should also be noted that those with allergies and asthma are twice as likely to develop chronic migraines

What Does a Migraine Headache Feel Like?

This type of allergy headache may include throbbing, and is usually felt on one side of the head. You may find that the pain gets worse in sunlight or that you also feel nauseated.

Triggers for a Migraine Headache From Allergies

There are several triggers that could be the reason for your migraine headache.

  • Increased inflammation. When we’re exposed to allergens around us, our bodies will begin to react. This causes those awful symptoms of runny nose, congestion, and post-nasal drip. Our nasal cavities become inflamed due to the allergic reaction. Inflammation in the nose occurs by the cells close to the trigeminal nerve, which is the main trigger for migraine headaches.
  • Increased congestion. Similar to inflammation, congestion and pressure in the nasal cavity can also irritate the trigeminal nerve. Oftentimes inflammation and congestion occur at the same time.
  • Parasympathetic nerves. When the body is constantly fighting allergies, this activates the nerves in the parasympathetic system, which controls the body’s digestion and rest response when you’re eating, drinking, or sleeping. This disruption can lead to dehydration, fatigue, and stress, all of which are migraine triggers. 
  • Smoke. The inhalation of smoke can irritate the nasal passages, leading to congestion and swelling in the nasal cavity. 

Symptoms of a Migraine Headache

These are general symptoms of a migraine headache. To know if the source of the migraine is from allergies, you’ll want to follow the tips below.

  • Throbbing or pounding sensation, usually on one side of the head
  • Increased sensitivity to bright lights or loud noises
  • Nausea and vomiting

Sinus Headaches From Allergies

Sinus allergy headaches are slightly different from a migraine headache. While both feel really bad, there are some variations in where you might feel the pain, and how bad your symptoms might be. 

Sinus headaches are often described as “pressure in the face”. This feeling is due to swelling in the nasal cavities, which can block the airways in the nasal cavities. 

Some of the Spaces Where You Might Feel a Sinus Headache

  • Cheekbones
  • Forehead
  • Between or behind the eyes
  • Behind the nose

The degree of pain from an allergy headache can vary widely, from dull to almost debilitating. The level of pain may also change with your position, such as whether you are standing or lying down.

Triggers for Sinus Headaches From Allergies

These could be the reason for why you’re experiencing sinus headaches. However, if symptoms are especially bad it may be a chronic issue resulting in sinusitis

Exposure to your allergies. Similar to migraine headaches, congestion and inflammation are reaction measures the body takes when exposed to an allergen. If you’re unsure what your allergies are, it might be worth looking into an allergy test. Learning what your triggers are is an extremely important part in learning how to prevent and limit exposure. At Aspire Allergy & Sinus, we test for up to 58 of the most common allergens, including dust, mold, and pet dander

The most common allergens that are associated with allergic rhinitis include:

Sinus Headache Symptoms 

Signs and symptoms of a sinus headache will look similar to symptoms of a migraine headache. These may include:

  • Pain or pressure in the cheeks, between the eyes, or forehead
  • Congested nose
  • Fatigue
  • Aches in the upper jaw and teeth

What Does an Allergy Headache Feel Like?

When you experience an allergy headache, you may feel them in any of these spaces within your sinuses. It may even feel like your face, rather than your head, is what really hurts. You may have pain in the cheeks that radiates to your jaw and teeth. You may feel pain on the top of your head.

@aspireallergy Are your headaches allergy related? Dr. Chris Thompson dives into what allergy headaches are, what they feel like and how to treat them! #allergy #treatment #allergicreaction #headache #allergies ♬ Chill Vibes - Tollan Kim

How Do You Prevent Allergy Headaches?

Avoiding triggers whenever possible is the best way to begin preventing allergy headaches. 

If you aren’t sure what is causing your allergy headaches, consider keeping a “headache journal” over a few days or weeks. This may help you identify potential causes and triggers for your allergies and headaches.

Once you have a better idea about what is causing your allergies and headaches, you can make any necessary changes to your home, schedule, or behavior. Depending on the triggers, you may need to alter the way you clean your home or the products you use, or make changes to your diet. You may have to remove specific plants or odors that can trigger your symptoms.

If you notice that your allergy headaches are linked to when you spend time outdoors, there are some ways to limit your exposure:

  • Stay indoors when triggers like pollen counts are at their highest, or when it is windy.

  • Keep windows closed, or avoid using window fans that can pull outdoor allergens into the house.

  • Wipe pets down after coming in from outdoors, pollen can get stuck in their furry coat. 
  • Check the daily local pollen count. Using an app like pollen.com can help keep you on track for the different pollen seasons. This can also be helpful in figuring out if there is a correlation between high pollen counts and your allergy headaches.

Sometimes your allergy headaches are triggered by indoor exposure. Some prevention measures for this include:

  • Use a HEPA air purifier to eliminate allergens in your home.

  • Use allergy-friendly covers for pillows, comforters, mattresses, and box springs.

  • Clean floors with damp rags or mops, since dry-dusting or sweeping can stir up possible allergens.

  • Wash your hands after handling animals and wash your clothes after visiting homes with pets.
  • Replace carpeting in your home with hardwood, tile, or linoleum to reduce dust and pet dander collection.

  • Avoid using products with strong fragrances, such as scented candles or air fresheners.

How to Treat Allergy Headaches

Your allergy headache treatment will vary depending on your symptoms. If your headache is caused by congestion from allergies, some over-the-counter medications can help reduce these symptoms, which can then reduce your headaches. Over-the-counter allergy medications usually need to be taken every day, for as long as you are exposed to the allergen.However, it’s important to remember that these are only short-term treatments that only mask your allergy symptoms, not treat them.

  • Antihistamines block the effects of the chemical histamine, which is responsible for the sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny nose often associated with allergies.
  • Decongestants can be either oral or nasal, and may be your best option for treating nasal congestion that leads to allergy headaches. They may relieve the stuffiness and pressure you may feel in your sinuses.
  • Intranasal corticosteroids are also effective against allergic rhinitis, and can help reduce your nasal congestion and runny nose.

If over-the-counter medications and lifestyle changes do not fix your allergy headaches, this can lead to additional problems associated with nasal allergies, such as chronic sinus infections (also known as sinusitis). When allergies cause congestion over a significant period of time, this can eventually cause sinus blockages, which can lead to a sinus infection. 

What’s the Best Medicine for Allergy Headaches?

The best medicine for allergy headaches is the one that is long lasting. At Aspire Allergy & Sinus we specialize in long-term allergy treatments that are made to treat your allergy at the root cause. This results in long-lasting relief from your allergy symptoms, including allergy headaches. 

Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy): Allergy shots work by desensitizing your immune system to the allergen you are allergic to. This means that over time, your body will become less reactive to that allergen. This means less congestion and inflammation, resulting in less allergy headaches overtime. 

Allergy Drops (Sublingual Immunotherapy): Allergy drops work in the same way as allergy shots—but with one major difference. The needle-free treatment is just three drops a day under the tongue making for a quick and convenient allergy treatment. This treatment is a great option for providing allergy headache relief, especially if you’re always on the go because they can be taken anywhere!

ExACT Immunoplasty: Looking for allergy relief, but don't have time to wait around? ExACT Immunoplasty is the solution! This treatment provides fast and effective relief from allergies in just a fraction of the time it would take to do traditional allergy shots. Clinical studies have shown that ExACT is just as effective as three years' worth of shots, with just three shots given over an eight-week period. If you’re ready for fast, easy allergy headache relief, ExACT is the option for you!

The goal of these treatments is not just relief from symptoms, but also improvement in overall health. By reducing inflammation in the body and improving overall allergy immunity, patients can live healthier lives and enjoy life more fully.

At Aspire Allergy & Sinus, we also treat sinus conditions such as sinusitis, which can be the cause of your sinus allergy headache. 

Our Balloon Sinuplasty treatment is a minimally invasive procedure that takes 15 minutes! By using a small balloon to dilate and open the sinus cavity, many of our patients feel immediate relief in their nasal passages. This could be the quick fix you need for your allergy headache. 

Allergy Headache Relief With Aspire Allergy & Sinus

If your allergy headaches and other allergy symptoms persist, it is important to see an allergy or sinus specialist. This specialist can perform an allergy skin test to evaluate your allergies, and even conduct a sinus CT scan to evaluate your sinuses. An allergist can also recommend treatments such as allergy shots or allergy drops, that are customized to your allergen profile and may be more effective than over-the-counter medications for relieving your symptoms.

Are you tired of living with allergy headaches that just won't stop? We know how frustrating it can be to wake up with a headache and not have an easy solution for relief. 

Aspire Allergy & Sinus Is Here to Help You Find Allergy Headache Relief

We've been helping people with allergy headache relief  for years, and we can help you, too! Book your appointment online today with our team of experts who have dedicated themselves to finding solutions for people who are suffering from both allergies and sinus problems.

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