Could your migraine headache be masquerading as a treatable sinus headache? Well, it very well may be and I have the 5-minute headache cure to prove it – but be warned, this is a messy job!
Nearly 30 million people suffer from migraine in the United States. Migraines are intensely painful headaches often felt on one side of the head and behind the eye. If you’ve ever been afflicted with headaches (as I was before I corrected my horrible forward head posture), you’d probably try anything to relieve the pain!
Today I came across an old article I wrote (but never published). This article discussed a very severe headache I suffered following a busy day in private practice. I had treated 25 clients this day and finished work late and tired. I got home and had a bit of an unhealthy binge – a little out of character for me but I have my moments too. I dined on a few chips with humus and then spotted some leftover bacon and made a bacon sandwich. Oh and I had two small glasses of white wine.
I went to bed around midnight, already sporting the beginnings of a headache. I woke shortly after 3am with a real cracker of a headache. I downed the water on my bedside table, assuming I had a mini hangover (I’m a bit of a lightweight). The headache didn’t improve and I couldn’t sleep and so at 8am I dragged my tired headachy body out of bed and discovered that being upright eased my headache to a small degree.
I began some sinus and shoulder self-massage and that gave temporary relief but the headache was creeping up in scale. I made a strawberry with banana smoothie, wondering if my blood sugars were low. Again, this provided only slight improvement.
If you’re a bit weird like me, you get very interested in your pain and always seek to ask your body what it needs vs. medicating your pain. I’m all about discovering the underlying cause and don’t like to mask symptoms and so I never medicate.
By this time the pain behind my right eye and across my forehead was quite substantial – what I believe many would interpret as a migraine headache. I was quite sure I had a sinus headache because applying pressure to my sinuses gave me some relief.
Like any good natural health obsessed geek, I began to research the sinus headache. Looking at a computer with a stinking headache is definitely NOT something I recommend but hey, I did say I’m weird like that. I stumbled across: Why Alcohol Causes Sinus Congestion on the popular Livestrong blog, and if you don’t fancy reading about it, it’s the histamine in red and white wine that causes inflammation in your sinuses. Bingo! Let’s take a look at some common sinus irritants:
1. Wine – My mother asked me once (this is relevant to my story), where I keep the Kleenex and I told her, ‘I never blow my nose.’ The look on her face was priceless and she immediately had to tell my step-father. You see, I come from a family of morning honkers who seem to drain the Kleenex box each and every morning. Interestingly, they probably never go without a glass of wine or two, most evenings.
2. Pets – My sister might do well removing her Newfoundland dog from their bedroom at night. It’s a dog’s saliva and dander, not really the fur, that’s problematic. An air purifier could help.
3. Bedding Fabric – Don’t forget to check the fabric of your bedding. You should look for fabrics that uses a small micron number. Small numbers mean the weave is tight and harder for dust mites to penetrate. Ideally 4-5 microns, but ideally two.
In my quest to solve the mystery of my cracking headache, I came upon a great article on saline nasal irrigation. Essentially you flush out the stagnant sinuses using a warm salt water flush. Sea salt is recommended and a dash of baking soda so it doesn’t sting.
Well it certainly wasn’t painful at all – just weird and very snotty (sorry but true). Make sure you have some tissues very close by (oops, toilet paper will have to do). Keep your mouth open or you’ll swallow the salt solution and all the … mess (snot) – I forgot to keep my mouth open – I learned the hard way. If your headache is more right-sided then pour into the left nostril to clear out the right side; but you should really do both sides several times.
Use a Neti Pot; apparently they are brilliant. I had an unopened syringe and I used that. It worked well because I could direct the pressure. Squeeze gently though, or you will get water and … mess everywhere. You can use just about anything with a pouring spout; so great creative.
After the flush, my migraine was immediately 60% better. Wow! One hour later, my headache was 85% better! From someone who never blows their nose, I’ll be buying some Kleenex mum.
So if you have a headache that you think is a migraine and you feel some pressure in your sinuses, maybe you should give nasal irrigation a try. And do let me know, if it eases your headache. Did your migraine improve? Go completely? I’d love to know if it helped you.