The fact that both are characterized by severe headache, leaves people in a sort of dilemma not knowing whether it is sinus headache or migraine. If you find it confusing, the brief write-up which distinguishes between the two will be of some help for you.
Many people believe that migraine headache is throbbing pain on one side of the head, which is absolutely incorrect. Of the various symptoms of migraine, one of the most prominent symptom is throbbing pain on one or both the sides of the head, and ignorance about this symptom prompts many people into believing that the severe headache that they experience – typically characterized by pain on both sides of the head, is sinus headache.
More than 90% of the self-diagnosed sinus headaches turn out to be migraines at the end of the day. But, that doesn’t mean such misdiagnoses is only restricted to cases of self-diagnosis, even general physicians often commit the same mistake.
Is it a Migraine or Sinus Headache?
Migraine headache and sinus headache differ from each other by a significant extent on grounds of causes, symptoms and treatment, and to determine whether it is sinus headache or migraine one has to be well-versed with these very differences between the two.
It is estimated that somewhere between 10-15% of the Americans suffer from migraine, though most of these people believe that they are suffering from sinus infection – and thereby sinus headache. Even the doctors allege that it is very difficult to convince patients that they are suffering from migraine, and not sinus as they believe. Given below are the details on the difference between migraine and sinus headache which will help you in diagnosing your condition.
The causes of migraine exist in plenty, some of the most common among which are stress, seasonal changes, certain strong smells, certain foods, hunger, exposure to flashing lights, alcohol abuse and lack of sleep. In fact, barometric pressure fall just before rains is one of the prominent migraine triggers which is attributed to 70% of the migraine cases. On the other hand, sinus headache happens to be a symptom of underlying sinus infection or sinusitis – which is inflammation of the paranasal sinuses as a result of certain viral or bacterial infections and allergies. Sinus headaches are also known to follow cold or flu.
One should also make a note of the fact that, migraines are hereditary – which means you are likely to suffer from this problem if either of your parents were suffering from the same. Again migraines are much more common – occurring once or twice in a month, while sinus headaches – which occur once or twice in a year on an average, are relatively rare.
Differentiating the symptoms of these two conditions is the best solution for all this confusion. The foremost difference happens to be the site of pain, which is either one or both sides of the head when it comes to migraine and around the forehead, eyes and cheeks when it comes to sinus. While the pain increases rapidly and lasts for somewhere between 4-72 hours before it starts subsiding in case of migraine headache, the same gradually increases and takes longer duration to subside in case of sinus headache. More importantly, the throbbing pain associated with migraine increases with the movement of your body or when you are climbing the stairs.
Other than feeling nauseous, a person experiencing migraine is highly sensitive to lights, loud noise and strong odors, and thus prefers to confine himself in some dark room. Many of these individuals often see auras – which are visual changes characterized by appearance of bright light, just before the onset of the throbbing pain in case of migraine.
Other than the throbbing pain in the forehead and face, sinus infection is accompanied by swollen lymph nodes and secretion of thick yellow or green mucus from the nose. In some cases of migraine headaches, nasal discharge is observed, but it is clear and not green or yellow as in case of sinus headaches. Yet another prominent difference between the two is that migraine headaches are recurring, while sinus headaches are not.
Sinus headache treatment is most often targeted at the treatment of underlying infection as a result of which mucus cannot drain out of abdominal cavity. As most of the cases are attributed to viral or bacterial infections, antibiotics which can get rid of the discomfort in 3-4 days are prescribed. One may also have to undergo an MRI or CT scan to diagnose sinusitis. On the other hand, migraine headache stops on its own within 4-72 hours of its onset. However, the fact that its symptoms interfere with the person’s daily lifestyle makes it necessary for the person to opt for some medicine to ease the discomfort. If the problem is recurring and unbearable, you may also have to resort to intravenous painkiller to get rid of the same.
Determining which of these two conditions are affecting you is important as their causes and treatment differ considerably, and proper diagnosis can help you initiate proper treatment at the earliest. There is no doubt about the fact that migraine and sinus headache both are quite discomforting, as a result of which several people always live in constant fear of the same. However, the good part is that both these conditions can be avoided by resorting to some preventive measures. While sinus headache can be prevented by avoiding allergies and infections, migraine headache can be reined by making sure that you don’t come in contact with the triggers.