How Seasonal Allergies Affect Migraine Headaches

Allergies might be the reason for your migraine

Allergy season got you down? Flowers are blooming outside, but you’re stuck indoors combatting a runny nose. Seasonal allergies and hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis) are quite common, with approximately one in five people in the U.S. experiencing symptoms of these allergies. 1, 2 Such allergies can sometimes be accompanied by headaches and migraines and often, the symptoms are similar. People who have seasonal allergies are more likely to also experience migraine headaches, and many suffer from both conditions at the same time. 2, 3 Additionally, studies have demonstrated that seasonal allergy sufferers are reported to be 4 to 14 times more likely to experience migraine headaches than those without allergies. 4, 5, 6, 7

Both seasonal allergies and migraines may arise due to similar situations such as weather changes or other seasonal migraine triggers. 3 For example, some individuals may be particularly sensitive to ragweed pollen and other fall migraine triggers, while others may be more affected during the spring and summer months, when even the perfume of flowers or other intense smells may trigger migraine headaches. 3

Migraines and seasonal allergies can affect the same parts of the body such as the forehead, the nose and the areas between, behind and around the eyes. 3

Seasonal allergy symptoms, particularly those that may be similar to those of a migraine headache, are important symptoms that you should discuss with your doctor. Links between your allergies and your migraines may help you and your physician better understand your attacks.

One way to help determine if seasonal allergy symptoms actually suggest a migraine headache, or may trigger your headaches, is to keep a migraine diary and share it with your doctor.

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1. Martin V. Allergy, rhinitis, and migraine headache. ACHE American Headache Foundation. 2011. Available at http://www.achenet.org/resources/allergy_rhinitis_and_migraine_headache/?print=y Accessed May 31, 2016.

2. Martin VT, Fanning KM, Serrano D, et al. Chronic rhinitis and its association with headache frequency and disability in persons with migraine: results of the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention (AMPP) study. Cephalalgia. 2014; 34(5):336-348. http://cep.sagepub.com/content/34/5/336.long

3. Gryglas A. Allergic rhinitis and chronic daily headaches: is there a link? Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. 2016;16(33):1-8. Available online ahead of print http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11910-016-0631-z Accessed May 30, 2016.

4. Aamodt AH, Stovner LJ, Langhammer A, et al. Is headache related to asthma, hay fever, and chronic bronchitis? The head-HUNT study. Headache. 2007;47:204-212. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1526-4610.2006.00597.x/abstract

5. Ku M, Silverman B, Prifti N, et al. Prevalence of migraine headaches in patients with allergic rhinitis. Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. 2006;97:226-230. http://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(10)60018-X/abstract

6. Ozturk A, Degirmenci Y, Tokmak B, Tokmak A. Frequency of migraine in patients with allergic rhinitis. Pakistan Journal of Medical Science. 2013;29(2):528-531. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3809225/

7. Sabari A, Nemati S, Shakib RJ, et al. Association between allergic rhinitis and migraine. Journal of Research in Medical Science. 2012;17(6):508-512. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3634285/

8. Lateef TM, Cui L, Nelson KB, et al. Physical comorbidity of migraine and other headache in United States adolescents. Journal of Pediatrics. 2012;161(2):308-313. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4408276/

9. Lateef TM, Merikangas KR, He J, et al. Headache in a national sample of American children: prevalence and comorbidity. J Child Neurol. 2009;24(5):536-543. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2794247/pdf/nihms160528.pdf

10. Lal D Rounds A, Dodick DW. Comprehensive management of patients presenting to the otolaryngologist for sinus pressure, pain, or headache. The Laryngoscope. 2015;125:303-310. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=217302

11. Schreiber CP, Hutchinson S, Webster CJ, et al. Prevalence of migraine in patients with a history of self-diagnosed “sinus” headache. Archives of Internal medicine. 2004;13:179-1772. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=217302

12. Martin VT, Taylor F, Gebhardt B, et al. Allergy and immunotherapy: are they related to migraine headache? Headache. 2010;1-13. http://www.metroatlantaotolaryngology.org/journal/dec10/immunotherapy%20and%20migraine.pdf

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