The Difference Between Sinus Headaches and Migraines

Many people who think they are having a sinus headache are actually having a migraine. Why do people get these two confused so often? There is actually quite a bit of overlap between the symptoms of a sinus headache and a migraine. It can be pretty easy to think that your migraine is a sinus infection. However, at Detroit Sinus Center, we want to be able to educate people on the difference between these two so that you know how to properly get relief. Keep reading to learn more about the similarities and differences between a sinus headache and a migraine.

Similar Symptoms at a Glance

Sinus headaches and migraines share a few of the same symptoms. For one, they are both forms of headaches so the number one symptom is, of course, head pain. Both will also lead to facial pressure, making your nose, eye, and ear areas feel a bit more congested than usual. Finally, both sinus headaches and migraines will also give you watery eyes. Overall, without knowing the more specific symptoms of the two, it can be pretty difficult to self-diagnose yourself with one or the other. So what is the difference and how can you determine which one you are experiencing? Let’s break-down what makes a sinus headache and a migraine different, and how to get relief for both.

What Are Sinus Headaches?

If you’re experiencing head pain, especially around your sinuses, along with nasal congestion and discharge, then you have a sinus headache. And, if you have a sinus headache, then it is likely that you also have a sinus infection, also called sinusitis. This is what mainly makes a sinus headache stand out from a migraine since the bacteria, virus, or allergies that caused your infection can give you different symptoms. These symptoms mostly affect your sinuses, making your nose runny or feeling congested and potentially leading to the development of a cough. Additionally, when you have a sinus headache, you also may notice that your nasal discharge is relatively thick and yellow or green in color, which is a sign of infection.

Common Sinus Headache Symptoms:

  • Head Pain
  • Facial Pressure
  • Watery Eyes
  • Congested or Runny Nose
  • Thick Nasal Discharge
  • Fever
  • Pain Around the Ears
  • Cough


How to Get Relief From Sinus Headaches

If you think you are experiencing a sinus headache, contact your ENT doctor right away. As we mentioned before, a sinus headache is a sign of a current or recent case of sinusitis. The infection will need to be examined more closely by a doctor so that you can receive the proper treatment, which usually includes a prescription for antibiotics. Untreated sinus infections could lead to a variety of problems that could require surgery in the future. Even if you have chronic sinusitis, there are ways to seek relief and get treatment to stop you from experiencing sinus headaches so often.

What Are Migraines?

People can either suffer from chronic migraines or be susceptible to getting them after certain activities such as drinking alcohol, not eating enough, or not getting enough sleep. Either way, a migraine is so much more than just a headache. Aside from the obvious head pain that you experience, a migraine may make you feel nauseous and potentially start vomiting. Plus, you’ll likely have an increased sensitivity to bright lights and loud sounds. These symptoms of a migraine tend to be linked to the eyes, instead of the sinuses like a sinus headache.

Common Migraine Symptoms:

  • Head Pain
  • Facial Pressure
  • Watery Eyes
  • Ocular Pressure
  • Thin Nasal Discharge
  • Sensitivity to Light
  • Sensitivity to Sounds
  • Nausea and/or Vomiting


How to Get Relief from Migraines

As we mentioned, migraines are usually either a chronic condition or a result of engaging in certain activities, most of which can be prevented. Since many migraines are coupled with light and sound sensitivity, one of the best ways to get relief from a migraine is to lay down and close your eyes in a comfortable, dark place. While you lay down, you can also apply a cold or hot compress (whichever feels better to you) to your forehead or gently over your eyes, if you are experiencing ocular pressure. Be sure to also stay hydrated and drink plenty of water during your migraine. Many over-the-counter pain medications that are used to treat normal headaches can help ease the symptoms of migraines as well. Those who suffer from chronic migraines can seek out long-term relief from their doctor.

Sinus Specialists at Detroit Sinus Center

At Detroit Sinus Center in Michigan, we are dedicated to helping our community breathe a little easier. At our offices in Southfield and Allen Park, you can expect top-tier sinus diagnosis and treatment services provided by our expert and friendly ENT doctors. We can help solve a variety of sinus-related problems that you may be experiencing, including sinus headaches and sinusitis infections. We even offer surgical procedures including endoscopic sinus surgery and, the less invasive, balloon sinus dilation. To get the sinus relief that you deserve, contact Detroit Sinus Center today to schedule an appointment!

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