Do I have a Migraine or a Sinus Headache?
The main difference between a sinus headache vs migraine headache is that migraine headaches stop a person from carrying out their normal day to day activities and tend to be debilitating. A typical sinus headache, while painful, does not disable a person from carrying out their normal activities while they have the migraine. Sinusitis, or an acute sinus infection tends to bring about other sinus infection symptoms, as well. Here our online doctors explain about the different types of headaches and ways to discern between a migraine and a sinus headache brought about by a sinus infection.
There are a few types of headaches. Sinus, tension, migraine and cluster headaches are the 4 main types. Below is a graphic that pinpoints where the pain is usually located for each headache type, and a degree of pain associated with each headache type as designated by the shade of red. Sinus headaches bring about pain around the areas where the sinuses are located. Tension headaches tend to bring pain the forehead, neck and back of the head. A migraine ends to originate on one side of the head, and cause a throbbing pain. Cluster headaches occur over a period of time each day, usually bringing intense pain in a certain area. These can sometimes be more severe than a migraine headache, however they are the least common type. Commonly, a migraine is misdiagnosed as a sinus headache.
Migraines Hurt…..Bad…..VERY Bad.
Sinus Infections bring about other mild symptoms. Migraines bring about lots of pain with some pretty harsh accompanying symptoms.
For instance, other symptoms of a sinus infection, includes: sinus pressure in the face or eyes, a runny nose that lasts more than a week, fever, cough, bad breath, postnasal drip in the throat, decrease sense of smell, fatigue, watery eyes, and red eyes. With a sinus headache, the patient will sometimes have a pus-like nasal discharge from having an infection in their sinuses. The purulent discharge is not a clear fluid.
Migraines can be brought about by having a sinus infection that is left untreated. Many sufferers of sinus infections report that the sinus headache tends to get worse as time goes on. Migraines can make your eyes water and sometimes even bring about a runny nose, however the fluid is clear.
The hallmark of a migraine is the pain. Sufferers of migraines will tell you that when they have a migraine headache they have other more pronounced symptoms including nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, smell, and sound.
The American Migraine Foundation published an article by Susan Hutchinson, MD in 2016 that revealed a few key findings regarding sinus headache vs migraine. In 90% of patients interviewed, she found that patients that self diagnose their headache issue believe it to be a sinus headache when in actuality it is a migraine. Migraine can be associated with forehead pain, and pressure in the face. Nasal congestion and a runny nose can also be present when a patient is experiencing a migraine headache. If a fever is not present, and there is no pus or drainage in the nose or back of the throat, the patient likely has a migraine.
Virtual Doctor Appointment
A doctor that is experienced can easily discern the difference between a sinus infection vs headache. Many patients with a sinus infection will report having a sinus headache at some point during the days with the infection.
SmartDocMD offers virtual doctor appointments for sufferers of sinus infections, headaches and migraines. We can help you discern the root cause and offer a treatment plan. We are based in California, in the San Francisco Bay area and are licensed to practice in California and Ohio, currently. We have plans to expand our virtual doctor services in the future to all 50 states.
If you think you have a sinus infection, or are unsure if your headache is a migraine or a sinus headache, start your care right now and find out answers. In addition to sinus infection treatment online, we also offer treatment for the common cold online, persistent cough online, urinary tract infection online, and yeast infection online.
Hutchinson, Susan. Sinus Headaches. American Migraine Foundation. Published: May 27, 2016. Accessed June 14, 2019.
By Susan Hutchinson, MD, Director, Orange County Migraine & Headache Center, Irvine, CA. This article is a legacy contribution from the American Headache Society Committee for Headache Education (ACHE) and the Fred Sheftell, MD Education Center.