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Sinus Headaches vs Migraines: How To Tell The Difference Between Symptoms

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The flu might be spreading worldwide but it's also that time of year when people start to get a runny nose, stuffy nose, and severe facial pain.

Both sinus headaches and migraines can cause enough pain that it can be hard to tell the difference between the symptoms. Research shows that 35 million Americans get sinus infections, at least once a year, according to WebMD. Meanwhile, 39 million Americans are affected by migraines. 

Sinus Infections Happen Soon After The Common Cold

When a cold seems to linger on forever, along with feeling fatigue, cough, congestion, loss of smell, post nasal drip, and facial pain, maybe a sinus infection could be coming on.

"Sinusitis usually occurs after a cold or after an allergic inflammation," according to Stanford Healthcare.

Sinus Infection Symptoms 

Sinuses are located inside the face, around both areas of the cheeks and the forehead. When sinuses act up, people may start to feel facial pain, including swelling around the eyes, pounding headaches, along with seeing thick yellow or green mucus. Though, some people may experience sinus infections while seeing clear discharge. 

The Different Types Of Sinusitis

When it comes to sinusitis, there are three different terms doctors may use, including acute sinusitis, subacute sinusitis, and chronic sinusitis.

  • Acute sinusitis happens fast but can improve with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. 
  • Subacute sinusitis can generally last for two to three months and may not get better, even with antibiotics. 
  • Chronic sinusitis symptoms may improve with antibiotics but have a higher chance of reoccurring within two to three months, or throughout the year. 

Migraines 

Similar to sinus infections, migraines can cause severe pounding headaches located in the forehead. The main difference is people who often get migraines are highly sensitive to bright lights, sounds, tiredness, and may even feel nausea. They may also experience an event which auras can cause changes in vision or tingling.

There's also the possibility that some people may experience an aura but not get severe headaches, according to Stanford HealthCare. 

"Not every migraine has an aura or other warning symptoms, as different patients have different types of migraines.  This particular type of migraine is called "migraine with aura," Bettina Harner, M.D., a neurologist at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, told Tech Times. 

What can cause Migraines? Research shows that those who are experiencing anxiety, depression, and insomnia are known to deal with chronic migraines, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Other migraine triggers can be alcohol, caffeine, aged cheeses, perfume, and changes in the weather.   

How To Recover From Migraines 

Are there any steps to getting over sinus infections and migraines?

"Some migraine patients do have triggers to the migraines, including sleep deprivation, alcohol use, etc. Avoiding these triggers is key in preventing migraines from occurring," Harner told Tech Times.  

"A patient with a migraine may take days to recover. There are medications, specifically "triptans," that we prescribe to abort these migraines immediately, but each patient is unique," said Harner. 

"Patients who do not have specific triggers, and if they fit a certain criteria, may be eligible to be prescribed prophylactic or preventive medications to decrease migraine frequency," said Harner. 

© 2018 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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