“The relationship between sinusitis, allergies, sleep and migraine headaches are very complex, Poor sleep, allergies, nasal obstruction and sinusitis almost always run together and it takes some detective work to figure out what causes what. And, each and everyone of those entities can cause migraine headaches.” Daniel Todd, MD, Resident Trained for ENT Allergy and Sinus Surgery Midwest ENT Stuffy nose, itchy watery eyes, sounds like the classic sinus headache, right? Well think again. Many sinusitis sufferers may be dealing with a migraine. It’s said that 4 out of 5 people who suffer from the classic sinus symptoms are actually dealing with a migraine headache. Daniel Todd, MD, is residency trained in ENT Allergy and Sinus surgery and says that during his fifteen years practicing, he’s become quite familiar with the complex ailment of headaches. “The International Headache Society is constantly changing the classifications of headaches, says Dr. Todd, who currently works for Midwest Ear, Nose and Throat in Sioux Falls.”Although sinusitis usually doesn’t cause significant headaches, it can sometimes trigger migraines.” Unlike sinusitis, there are many forms of migraines, which Dr. Todd says can be frustrating because there are few identifiable causes. “It can be just bad luck or a family trait of sorts,” he adds. And with 15% of the population suffering from them, it’s definitely a problem physicians like Dr. Todd are taking seriously. “The relationship between sinusitis, allergies, sleep and migraine headaches is very complex,” says Dr. Todd. He goes on to add that poor sleep, allergies, nasal obstruction, and sinusitis almost always run together and it takes some detective work to figure out what causes what. And, each and every one of those entities can cause headaches. So how do you know what type of headache you have? There are a few symptoms that can help classify your case. The common symptoms of both sinus and migraine include pain in the forehead region, itchy water eyes and pain associated with movement. However nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to sound or light and severe throbbing pain on one side of the head are typically migraines. And if you think diagnosing the cause of your headache is tricky, treating it can be even more difficult. “The best data that we have says that sinus surgery can help with certain headaches, but the results have proven to lose their effectiveness over time,” says Dr. Todd. Occasionally, physicians are able to identify some triggers and mitigate them. “Women who have hormonal headaches with their menstrual cycles are often helped with medications, meanwhile, patients with mold or food allergies may benefit from avoidance or allergy shots,” says Dr. Todd. Page 2 of 2As for long term, Dr. Todd says that these treatments vary based on the frequency and severity of the headache. “If the headaches are rare, we often use medications on an as-needed basis. But if the headaches are more frequent, we use a daily preventative approach such as focusing on visual triggers and mitigating those inputs. And if you want to look a bit more “relaxed,” it’s even proven that Botox has shown promise. And if all these sound like a lot of prescription medication, shots and procedures, Dr. Todd says there’s an array of alternative therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, vitamins and hormonal supplements that have variable success. “I never hesitate to bring up the possibility of a trial of a gluten free diet,” he adds. “I’ve had numerous patients improve on that alone.” Just like the human brain itself, detecting the source of a headache or sinus pain is complex. But there is hope for sinus and allergy sufferers – it just may take a little detective work to find all the clues to cure your pain.