Sinusitis Or Migraine?

A sinus infection or sinusitis is often confused with a migraine because these conditions share many of the same symptoms. These symptoms may include pain in the face as well pressure over the nose, eyes, and cheeks.

If you visit a doctor and explain that you have these symptoms, they may diagnose you with sinusitis and give you antibiotics to treat it. But what if your condition is actually a migraine instead?

Believe it or not, it's not uncommon for primary care doctors to incorrectly diagnose migraine patients with sinus infections. Let's take a closer look at how you can tell the difference between sinusitis or a migraine.

Difference Between Sinusitis and Migraine Headaches

At its core, a migraine is a severe headache that leads to throbbing pain that typically arises on one side of the head. While some migraine attacks last for several hours, others persist for days and drastically interfere with quality of life. A migraine can make it impossible for you to work, go to school, drive, and complete other day-to-day tasks.

Compared to sinusitis, migraines lead to more severe pain and discomfort and come with some nausea, which a doctor may believe is "post nasal drainage." Also, migraines are usually genetic so if your parents experience them frequently, you may too. In addition, migraines appear suddenly so it's virtually impossible to predict them.

Treating Sinusitis

The severity of your sinusitis will dictate the ideal treatment plan. If your sinus infection is acute and only lasts for a few days or weeks, conservative measures like saline nasal sprays, nasal corticosteroids, and over-the-counter pain medications may help.

In the event allergies are playing a role in your condition, immunotherapy or allergy shots may be a viable solution. There is a chance that surgery such as an endoscopy or balloon sinuplasty will be necessary if you have chronic sinusitis that persists for more than 12 weeks.

Treating Migraines

If you're living with migraines, instead of sinusitis, the goal of treatment will be to ease your symptoms and prevent attacks down the road. Pain relieving medications or preventative medications may be prescribed.

There are also a number of lifestyle remedies that may deem to be effective such as relaxation techniques, a consistent sleeping and eating routine, frequent hydration, and regular exercise. Nontraditional treatments like acupuncture and cognitive behavioral therapy may help as well.

Unsure of whether you have sinusitis or migraine headaches? Consult an ENT doctor to get a clear answer and treat your condition safely and effectively.


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