As the seasons change and spring spreads across the country, it’s time for all the trees, grasses, and flowers to start to bloom. And while springtime is a lovely sight for most, it also comes hand in hand with something much less pleasant than a few daffodils: hay fever.
Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction to pollen. Somewhere between 10% and 30% of the world’s population suffers from hay fever, which means that springtime will see plenty of people dealing with stuffiness, sneezing, and worst of all, headaches.
Handling Allergy Headaches
People who suffer from seasonal allergies know that sinus headaches are all too common when the pollen counts get high. Your sinuses are hollow cavities in the face that open into the nose, allowing air and mucus to move around. Normally, mucus drains from the sinuses into the nose. However, if the openings that allow drainage into the nose become blocked, pressure can build in the sinuses, creating headaches and pain. Congestion, such as the kind that comes along with hay fever, can trigger these headaches. You can identify a sinus headache by pain located right behind the nose and eyes, in the middle of the face.
To deal with these headaches, here are a few tips:
- Take an antihistamine. When you experience an allergic reaction, your body creates a chemical called histamine. This chemical is what causes symptoms like itchiness, sneezing, and congestion. An antihistamine blocks the effects of that chemical, relieving your symptoms. Make sure to take a non-drowsy one during the day!
- Take a nasal decongestant. These sprays can break up the congestion and relieve the pressure in your sinuses. Just make sure that you’re using them as directed — some medicated sprays can damage the inside of your nose or cause rebound congestion if overused.
- Avoid the outdoors. If you can avoid going outside, you can prevent much of that pollen from getting into your system. Even if you can’t avoid it entirely, staying indoors on particularly windy days and days with high pollen counts is a good idea. Your local weather includes information on the pollen count.
- Keep your spaces clean. That pollen that’s causing so much trouble can come in on your feet and clothes, through windows and doors, and on pets, among other ways. Vacuuming regularly, dusting, and quickly washing clothes that have been worn outside should help with this.
If you find that these basic steps aren’t enough to keep your allergy headaches at bay, it may be time to talk to your doctor.
Sinus Headaches Commonly Misdiagnosed
Many people think they have sinus headaches, but they actually have other types of headaches. In fact, sinus headaches are probably the most misdiagnosed type of headache. Instead, the locations of pain from these types of headaches can be confused with headaches caused by jaw muscles, which attach behind the eye (temporalis) or beside the nose (masseter). They are also commonly confused with migraines, especially facial migraines.
Not sure if your headaches are allergy headaches? If you have chronic migraines, you may actually be dealing with a symptom of TMJ. Check to see if you have any other symptoms of TMJ, and consider speaking to an experienced TMJ dentist about it. If your headaches are due to TMJ, then TMJ treatment may be able to prevent or relieve them. Call (803) 781-9090 or contact us online to learn more.