Although they’re often referred to as “seasonal allergies”, many people find themselves suffering from runny noses, itchy eyes, and headaches year-round. Whether it’s tree pollen in the spring, grass in the summer or ragweed in the fall, each season brings its own share of troubles. Over 50 million people in the United States suffer from allergies each year. Moreover, allergy headaches affect approximately 30% of the population worldwide. In order to find the best treatment options and find much-needed relief, it’s essential you understand the causes of your allergies, as well as the best steps to take for managing allergy headaches.
Not Just One Type of Headache
Allergies don’t just trigger one type of headache. Instead, they prompt all kinds of headache pains including:
For allergy sufferers, it’s important to recognize the different symptoms of these types of headaches and migraines to find the best treatment method.
Allergies Aren’t Only Seasonal
The term “seasonal allergies” describes allergy symptoms triggered by periodic changes throughout the year. Oftentimes, this ties into variations in the pollen count, but other factors, including humidity, moisture levels, pollution, and indoor air quality, can play significant roles. If you suffer from severe allergies, including migraine symptoms, it’s best to visit your doctor to determine what’s causing your discomfort and the best ways to solve it.
What You Need to Know About Allergy Headaches
Here are some of the most common triggers for allergy headaches:
- Hay fever: Hay fever, aka allergic rhinitis, is the most common cause of seasonal and indoor allergies. This occurs when your body produces an immune system response to a harmless trigger (usually pollen, dust, or dander), creating symptoms resembling those of the common cold, such as nasal congestion and headache.
- Food Allergies: In some people, certain foods are a migraine trigger. Ingredients in popular items such as artificial sweeteners, aged cheeses, and chocolate may cause headaches.
- Histamines: Your body produces histamines after exposure to allergens. Histamines are an immune system result and are there to help you get rid of the allergens in your body. However, in some cases, your body may overreact, leading to headaches, allergies, and asthma.
Strategies for Managing Allergies Migraines
Some overlap arises between treating regular and allergy headaches. OTC medications like Tylenol and Advil can help reduce inflammation and discomfort. However, if allergies are triggering your headaches, make sure to take these additional steps:
Preventing and Mitigating Allergy Headaches
Allergies happen as a response to a trigger. If you know what your triggers are, you can better avoid them or at least limit your exposure. In the case of airborne allergies, some of the best things to do are:
- Check pollen counts and avoid going outdoors during the highest levels
- Wear a face mask when going outdoors
- Ensure air filters in your HVAC and furnace systems are clean
- Remove carpeting and other traps for dust and debris
- Clean and vacuum your home frequently
- Install a dehumidifier
Find the Right Medication for You
When it comes to managing allergy headaches, nothing is more essential than a combination of antihistamines and decongestants. These medications are generally available over the counter (OTC) and can help reduce swelling in your sinuses, as well as minimize other uncomfortable symptoms.
With so many options on the market, it can be difficult finding the best one for you. For this reason, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor so you can explain your specific symptoms and find the best course of action. For example, if you still experience congested sinuses even after using a nasal spray, your doctor may advise you to take oral medication. Likewise, even OTC antihistamines may cause unfavorable reactions, so your doctor can help steer you towards the best one for you.
How Do Antihistamines Work?
Antihistamines block “histamines” or your body’s immune system response to harmless allergy triggers like pollen or dust. However, antihistamines aren’t the best immediate solution. They take time to accumulate in the bloodstream. For this reason, it’s best to begin a course of antihistamines in the weeks before the start of allergy season.
Likewise, if you suffer from severe allergies, getting allergy shots before the season begins may help. This gives your body time to build up key ingredients to start preventing the onset of serious symptoms. Even nasal sprays may take 1-2 days to really start working. Be sure to plan accordingly!
Natural Remedies To Find Relief
To find more complete relief, managing allergy headaches requires a holistic approach. By addressing your symptoms in a variety of ways, you’ll be able to truly reduce discomfort. Along with taking antihistamines and using medication, there are a variety of natural remedies for managing allergy headaches you can try.
Research has proven that nasal irrigation is a highly effective adjunct treatment for seasonal allergies. People have used this technique for centuries to find relief. By using a combination of salt and warm water, you rinse irritants out from your nasal passages. This removes dust, bacteria, pollen, and other types of pollutants from your nose, helping you manage allergies along with colds. Moreover, it helps reduce the inflammation that’s also a source of headaches.
In addition, by using humidifiers or vaporizers, you can add moisture to the air in your home. Increased indoor moisture helps reduce nasal congestion and sinus pressure that may be causing your migraines.
Managing Allergy Headaches Made Easy
Allergy headaches affect millions of American each year. Fortunately, they are easily manageable through a variety of different strategies. Begin by identifying your allergy triggers and finding methods to limit your exposure. From there, consult your doctor or pharmacist about the best medication strategy for you. Finally, take advantage of natural remedies, such as nasal irrigation and dehumidifiers, which can round out your care strategy. Through these steps, you’ll be able to overcome even the most serious allergy headaches to you get back to normal life.
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This post was updated in August 2019.