Is it a Sinus Headache or a Migraine? What's the Difference?

Is it a Sinus Headache or a Migraine? How to Tell the Difference

Sinus Headache or a Migraine

With the appearance of spring, comes the arrival of allergy season and it’s in full force this year! While the weather is warming up and many of us are spending more time outdoors, allergies can make you absolutely miserable. If a runny nose and itchy throat weren’t enough, the daily sinus headaches can really ruin your day. However, there is a chance that your daily headache may not be related to your sinuses. In fact, maybe you are suffering from a migraine? While it’s not unusual to confuse the two, knowing the difference between these conditions can help you get on the fast track to feeling better.

So, is it really a sinus headache or could it be a migraine headache? Trying to distinguish between the two can be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for. So, read on in order to learn the difference so you can figure out what is ailing you, sinus headache or a migraine?


If it’s a Migraine:

• Sensitivity to light or noise
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Pulsing, throbbing pain
• Nasal congestion
• Symptoms become worse with physical movement
• Pain is debilitating, so much so that the sufferer often misses activities

If it’s a Sinus Headache:

• Fever
• Reduced sense of smell
• Sinus pain/pressure
• Thick, discolored nasal discharge
• Your headache gets worse in cold, damp weather or when you bend over
• Pain is not debilitating to the degree of not being able to function

Location of the Pain

If it’s a Migraine:

• Pain feels localized. For instance, you may only feel it on one side of your head
• Pain occurs in patches
• Pain can travel down into the neck and face

If it’s a Sinus Headache:

• Pain can occur on one or both sides of the head
• Feeling pain above your eyes
• Feeling pain in your cheek areas
• Feeling pain across the bridge of your nose
• The neck is usually not affected


If it’s a Migraine, the Common Triggers Are:

• Light
• Smells/particular scents
• Sound
• Alcohol
• Food
• Stress
• Medication
• Sleeping habits
• Hormonal issues
• Environmental changes

If it’s a Sinus Headache, the Common Triggers Are:

• Allergies
• Having a cold
• Blocked sinuses

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