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What to Know to Relieve Allergy Headaches

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22nd Jan 2024

Allergies cause rashes, difficulty breathing, congestion, and other unpleasant side effects. However, sinus headaches and migraines might be added to the list of allergic reactions.

While headaches are rarely fatal, they can harm your lifestyle. If you suffer from allergies and headaches, here's what you should know to manage them.

Symptoms of an Allergy Sinus Headache

Your sinuses are hollow air passages that facilitate the flow of air and mucus. These channels are found behind the eyes on the bridge of the nose, on the forehead, and within each cheekbone. Any fluids in the sinus canals usually leak into the nose.

Sinus discomfort occurs when the sinuses are bloated, filled with fluid, or the passages are blocked. Any impediment prevents regular drainage, causing pressure to build up inside. Many times, the pain is associated with the damaged sinuses. Sinusitis pain can be subtle or strong, and it is usually greater in the morning after you wake up.

How are Allergy Headaches Different from Other Types of Headaches?

People who suffer from environmental allergies frequently complain about "allergy headaches". They usually occur when the body's immune system reacts to a foreign material like pollen, dust, or animal dander. The immune system releases histamines and other substances, causing inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages and sinuses. This rapid inflammation can cause pressure and pain in the face and head, commonly referred to as an allergy headache.

Other forms of headaches, on the other hand, are triggered and caused by other factors. For example, tension headaches can be induced by stress or tension in the neck and head muscles, as well as muscle injury. Migraine headaches are hypothesized to be produced by unknown vascular and neuronal abnormalities in the brain, which can be triggered by hormone changes or sensory stimulation (such as bright lights or strong scents).

Allergy Headache Triggers

Allergies can cause sinus pressure and headaches from a variety of sources. The most common allergies and triggers are:

  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Certain foods
  • Stress
  • Pet Dander
  • Smoke
  • Sinus congestion

Managing Allergy Headaches and Triggers

The key to controlling allergies and headaches is to restrict your exposure to allergens and triggers.

  • When pollen counts are high, stay indoors and shut the windows.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses outside to keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Use air conditioning at home and in your automobile. Make sure to change the air filters regularly and maintain the AC unit clean.
  • To limit dust mite exposure in your bedroom, use mite-proof covers on pillows, comforters, and mattresses.
  • To limit mold exposure, keep your home's humidity levels between 30 and 50%. Clean your kitchen, bathrooms, and basement regularly, and keep moist, humid areas under control with a dehumidifier.
  • Clean floors with a damp mop or rag to avoid dry sweeping or dusting.
  • If you have an allergy to a pet, keep it outside your home. If you must keep a pet indoors, keep it out of your bedroom to avoid exposure to allergens while sleeping.
  • Replace carpets with hardwood, tile, or linoleum to reduce dander in your home.

Many sinus headache factors are airborne and hard to prevent. Discuss your options with your physician to determine the best treatments for you.

How to Treat Allergy Headaches

If allergy headaches persist, your doctor might suggest one or more of the medications listed below as the best options for allergy headache treatment.

  • Pain Relievers: Advil (ibuprofen) and Tylenol (acetaminophen) can provide temporary relief for nasal pain.
  • Oral & Nasal Decongestants: These drugs are available over the counter (OTC) and can cure nasal congestion as well as reduce pressure that causes sinus headaches.
  • Antihistamines: Histamines are natural compounds in your body that regulate your body's response to allergens. Antihistamines block these substances, reducing allergy symptoms. Both over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines are available.
  • Intranasal Corticosteroids: These drugs are particularly helpful in treating allergic rhinitis and can help alleviate sneezing, nasal congestion, itching, and runny nose.
  • Immunotherapy (allergy shots): If you do not respond well to drugs or encounter side effects, your doctor may offer allergy shots as a better long-term solution to your allergy problems.