With spring comes warmer weather, rain showers, fresh flowers and the dreaded seasonal allergy symptoms. Frequent sneezing and itchy eyes are common this time of year, and some people may even experience intensified or continual migraine. It’s important to know, however, whether or not ongoing headache is due to seasonal allergies or a sign of a much larger problem. Here are some factors to consider.

What Causes Springtime Headache?

April showers bring May flowers, and flowers bring pollen-induced allergies and headache. Pollen is microscopic and can travel virtually anywhere — most notably, into a person’s nasal cavity. Commonly known as “hay fever,” this can lead to Rhinitis, the irritation and inflammation in the mucous membrane of the nose. This inflammation can cause an ongoing headache. Another culprit is the turbulent spring weather, which leads to changes in barometric pressure.  It is thought that changes in barometric pressure can activate nerves in the sinuses, nose or ears to produce headaches. Therefore, the springtime can represent the perfect “soup” for more frequent headaches.  

What Makes Them Different?

There is no formal definition for allergy or sinus headaches. However, patients often complain of a dull pain of mild to moderate intensity located in regions where the sinuses reside, such as the forehead, between and behind the eyes and cheekbones. The headaches often occur along with a runny nose, nasal congestion and drainage.   

Unfortunately, because of the location of the sinuses – cheekbones, bridge of the nose, forehead, etc. – a sinus headache is confused with migraine. However, migraine symptoms are specific and usually more intense than those of an allergy headache. A migraine sufferer may also experience nausea, sensitivity to light or noise, throbbing localized pain or increased pain when active.

What are the Treatment Options?

Headache and migraine differ from person to person, making it crucial to visit a specialist if you suspect a chronic illness. Some individuals are reluctant to call their doctors or go to an Emergency Department because they don’t want to arrive only to learn that nothing out of the ordinary is wrong. Remember, though, that it is better to be safe and start treatment early. Click here for a list of symptoms that should be reported to a doctor.

If you are looking for more information on how to best communicate your pain to a doctor, click here.