Something in the Air – Allergy Headaches and the Environment

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, 39 million Americans suffer from migraines and headaches. That’s just reported cases, so it’s likely much higher!  Some of those migraines and headaches are allergy headaches.  But it’s important to know that not all people who suffer from environmental allergies also suffer from chronic headaches or migraines.  If you do have headaches, and allergies, allergies are more likely to trigger a headache.

What is an allergy headache?

You can have a headache accompanied by an allergy attack, or an allergy attack that triggers a headache. In either case, we call that an allergy headache.  Allergic symptoms that accompany an allergy headache include sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, itchy throat and sinus pressure.

What is causing your allergy headache?

There are a number of common factors that can trigger your allergy headache or migraine. It could take you some time before you find out exactly what is affecting you. Some of the most common causes include

    • Hay fever and other seasonal allergies like pollen. Ragweed is one of the most common seasonal allergens, but any kind of pollen can cause them.
    • Pet dander is a common household allergen. Pet dander is more likely to cause respiratory symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath, but it can cause headaches too.
    • Mold and mildew are everywhere! If you have mold in your home and allergic reactions to it, you may need to invest in professional mold remediation for the good of your health.
    • Dust mite droppings are impossible to eliminate, no matter how much you clean. They are a common trigger of allergic asthma but can also trigger headache. A good mattress cover and pillow covers can help reduce exposure to dust mites if they are a trigger for you.

To diagnose your allergic reactions, we do a careful history and physical exam. We do tests to figure out what you are allergic to, how severe that allergic reaction is and whether or not it causes a headache. We will also evaluate you for other triggers and causes of headaches, including cluster headaches and SUNCT (Short-lasting, Unilateral, Neuralgiform headache attacks with Conjunctival injection and Tearing) that can cause similar symptoms to allergy headaches.

Get help with your allergy headaches.

Combining an antihistamine with an analgesic will offer fast relief for your allergy attacks and headaches. Over-the-counter antihistamines include Benadryl, Zyrtec and Claritin; commonly available analgesics include Advil and Aleve. NSAIDS such as Advil and Aleve are the most effective in stopping allergy headache pain, but if you cannot take those, Tylenol may be your best option. It’s important to remember that any antihistamine, especially Benadryl (diphenhydramine) can cause drowsiness and you should avoid driving or any other dangerous activity after taking it. But those are just short-term solutions for a longer-term issue.

If you suffer from severe allergy headaches and want lasting treatment for them, we can help. Live the pain-free life you deserve! Contact us today for a consultation via telemedicine or in-person.

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