Studies Show ‘Sinus Headache’ Is Frequently Migraine

Studies Show ‘Sinus Headache’ Is Frequently Migraine

Are you Suffering from Migraine?

According to the American Migraine Foundation, a lot of people who believe they have a “sinus headache” are more accurately diagnosed as suffering from migraine. Your symptoms may seem to point to your sinuses—pressure, facial pain, conjestion, etc.—but reaching for over-the-counter medications will frequently fail to get at the real issue.
"True" sinus headache, more properly called rhinosinusitis, is rare and secondary to a viral or bacterial sinus infection characterized by thick, discolored nasal discharge, possibly decreased smell or no smell, facial pain or pressure and commonly fever.

Facial pain and headache should resolve within seven days after remission of viral symptoms or after successful treatment with antibiotics if a bacterial sinus infection is present. If pain continues, then your diagnosis should be reconsidered.
American Migraine Foundation

You're Not Alone

In a study of over 3,000 patients who said they’d had at least six “sinus headaches” in the past six months, 88% of them were found to actually be suffering from migraine! Other studies have shown similar results. While migraine can be associated with nasal congestion or watery eyes, many sufferers find little relief in the over-the-counter medications they assume will work. 

Dr. Richard Lipton of Albert Einstein College of Medicine developed a simple questionnaire—ID Migraine™—to help evaluate whether you might actually be dealing with migraine. Ask yourself the following three simple questions:

  • In the past three months, were your headaches "disabling" enough to cause you to miss work, school, or other major commitments?
  • Are you nauseated or sick to your stomach when you get a headache?
  • Does light bother you when you have a headache?

If you answered “yes” to two of these questions, there is a 93% chance that you’re actually experiencing migraine. If you answered “yes” to all three questions, a migraine diagnosis is 98% likely. (You can read more about ID Migraine™ and “sinus headache” at the American Migraine Foundation website.)


If you think you might be experiencing "sinus headaches," you likely need to have that diagnosis re-evaluated. You may actually be experiencing migraine, and accurate diagnosis is a critical component of successful treatment and prevention.​

Close Menu