An allergy is a condition that’s hard to explain. An allergic reaction is caused by a normally harmless substance that is seen by the body as a threat. When inhaled or ingested, the body attacks this substance by releasing chemicals, causing the reaction. It’s still unclear why some people react to certain allergens while others do not, but what is clear is that a big chunk of the population suffers from at least one form of allergy and that one out of five people who have allergies also have a condition known as allergic rhinitis. Patients with allergic rhinitis often experience symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, puffy or teary eyes, and nasal congestion when exposed to allergens – especially airborne ones like pollen, dust, and dander.
Aside from mild to severe reactions to allergens, a person suffering from allergies may also experience more frequent headaches. Even more so for those who have been diagnosed with allergic rhinitis. People with allergies and allergic rhinitis are prone to developing sinus headaches and an increase in the occurrence of migraines. Sinus headaches occur when the sinuses are not able to drain properly. This creates pressure on the face and skull, causing facial pain and headaches to occur. When a person experiences nasal congestion due to allergies, this can trigger the inflammation of the sinuses preventing them from draining, which leads to a sinus headache.
The relationship between allergies and migraines, on the other hand, is a little bit more complicated. On the surface, it appears that there is no direct relation between the two conditions; however, studies have shown that people with allergic rhinitis have a higher chance of experiencing migraine headaches than those who don’t. The numbers vary depending on which study you look at, but all of them suggest the same thing.
Aside from allergic rhinitis, another common form of allergies has also been reported to trigger migraine episodes. It has been said that food allergies can also contribute to the frequency of migraine headaches. In a separate study, people who have avoided known food allergens have experienced less migraine episodes than before. Other experts disagree with this study. They believe that migraines are not triggered by an allergic reaction to particular food allergens, but rather, by intolerance to certain foods. This is because several food triggers that can cause a migraine episode are not known to be allergens. These food items and additives include artificial sweeteners, tyramine, phenylethylamine, and monosodium glutamate (MSG) which can be found in many of the food items people consume on a daily basis and are not known to trigger allergic reactions.
For some people, allergies have become a common occurrence that they have learned to live with and manage through medication. The headaches that come with the allergies, however, may need a little bit more attention because they can be a disruptive and distracting force in our lives. While headaches stemming from allergic reactions are easily treated with over-the-counter painkillers, the best way to manage or avoid allergy-related headaches is to avoid being exposed to allergens. It’s important to know what airborne or food allergens your body reacts to and avoid them. To know more about allergies and the headaches that come with them, consult a doctor.