Do Allergies Cause Headaches?
Allergies can make you miserable: you can’t stop sneezing, your nose turns into a faucet, and going outside to be active seems like a terrible idea. Add a headache to all of that, and your allergies go from annoying to unbearable. But can allergies cause headaches? Learn how these two conditions are connected and how you might be able to manage one in order to avoid the other.
How are Headaches and Allergies Connected?
A large percentage of Americans experiences headaches. While these are not commonly a sign that something is seriously wrong, they can impact an individual’s quality of life and may be connected to allergies and sinus issues.1
Individuals who suffer from allergic rhinitis may notice that headaches are common.1 Rhinitis is a diagnosis that is generally associated with symptoms that occur when you breathe in an allergen that affects the nose.2 This may include plant pollens, animal dander, and dust.2 When someone with an allergy to pollen goes outside on a hot, windy day with a lot of pollen in the air, it may trigger an allergic reaction known as hay fever.2
Some rhinitis symptoms may appear right after you come in contact with allergens, and some may develop later:2
- Runny nose and sneezing
- Watery eyes
- Stuffy nose and nasal congestion
- Decreased sense of smell
Headaches associated with rhinitis and allergies are relatively common and are usually attributed to irritation in and around the nasal passages.1 These allergy-related headaches are often referred to as sinus headaches, which involve pain that’s localized over the sinus area.3
The pain from a sinus headache is often located around a blocked sinus cavity.3 When allergens are inhaled, they can cause swelling in the sinus cavities, which are hollow air spaces in the skull that have openings into the nose that allow air to enter and mucus to drain.3 During an allergic reaction, these openings are blocked by swelling, which can cause pressure to build in the head, leading to pain around the face and headache.3
If you don’t find a way to manage your allergic reactions, the buildup of mucus in your sinuses can lead to an infection, known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis.1,4 When physicians are determining whether a headache is related to sinusitis, they look for a few different criteria:1
- Headache located in the front of your head with pain in one or more areas of the face, ears, or teeth
- Headache and rhinosinusitis symptoms that occur at the same time
- Headache and/or facial pain that goes away within seven days after decreased symptoms or successful treatment
While rhinitis and its accompanying headaches can feel debilitating, untreated sinusitis can lead to a bacterial infection, which may require more intense treatment.4
Allergy Headaches vs. Migraines
While there’s a direct connection between allergies and headaches, it’s important to note that only a doctor can really determine if what you’re experiencing is a sinus headache. Most self-diagnosed sinus headaches are actually migraines and will not respond to the same kind of treatment.1 While research supports a link between allergies and migraines, you may want to talk to your doctor to understand exactly what kind of pain you’re experiencing. If your sinus headache is caused by a sinus infection due to allergies, you may also have a fever and thick, discolored mucus from your nose.5
Treating Your Allergy Headache
Getting rid of your sinus headache means treating the underlying cause and easing the pressure within your sinuses.5 Steps you can take include:5
- Take a decongestant to reduce swelling and allow mucus to drain
- Use saline nasal spray to thin mucus
- Apply a warm compress to areas of the face that are painful
- Take an antihistamine to ease allergy symptoms
- Try a pain reliever to reduce headache pain
This range of home treatment methods may seem extensive, but thankfully, there’s a single product that can handle your nasal congestion, sinus pressure, and allergy headache: Flonase Headache & Allergy Relief. It’s formulated with a powerful combination of a pain reliever, decongestant, and antihistamine to cover all aspects of your sinus headache.
If you’re looking to manage your allergy symptoms, including sneezing, nasal congestion, a runny nose and an allergy headache, turn to Flonase Allergy Relief Nasal Spray. Don’t let allergies and allergy headaches keep you from living your best life.