According to an article on the Harvard Health Blog, 86% of patients who think they are dealing with sinus headaches are actually migraine sufferers. That is a pretty astonishing figure considering how many people are constantly blaming headaches on their sinuses. It means the estimate that 38 million Americans suffer from migraines may actually be rather low.
How to Tell a Migraine from a Sinus Headache
There are a lot of similar symptoms of the two conditions, one being a moderate to severe headache. Also, weather changes can be a trigger, and both can present with face pressure. If a patient enters a doctor’s office with these symptoms and jumps in response to pressure above or below the eyes, a prescription for antibiotics is likely.
Unfortunately, a migraine patient may also respond well to this treatment, not because there is an infection but due to a combination of the migraine getting better over time and the placebo effect (patient believes he has an infection and that antibiotics are the answer so he “feels better”).
For many, this cycle has continued for years with a person getting repeat sinus headaches and infections that are actually migraines. How can you know it is actually a migraine?
- Nausea often accompanies migraines but rarely sinus headaches
- Migraines present with sensory sensitivity
- Sinus infections should cause thick, discolored mucus—clear drainage can be associated with a migraine
- If several members of the family deal with the same problem, it is more likely to be migraines since they tend to run in families
The Right Way to Care for Migraines
Once a person gets the proper diagnosis, the right way to get help is easier to find as well. For example, many migraine patients respond well to upper cervical chiropractic care. Why is that the case? The top bone in the spine, the atlas, plays a vital role in brainstem function and in facilitating proper flow of blood and cerebrospinal fluid. Correcting a misalignment can clear up issues that result from a misalignment, one of which is migraines.