Sinus Headache vs Migraine - Difference, Symptoms and Treatment

Headaches are quite frequent and come in a variety of forms. Migraine and sinus discomfort, which is sometimes mistaken for a headache, are two that you may be familiar with. The symptoms of these two forms of headaches might be extremely similar. As a result, telling the difference between the two might be difficult.

What are the symptoms of a sinus headache?

Sinus headaches are relatively uncommon. Sinusitis, or an inflammation of the sinuses, is the most common cause. An illness, an allergy, or nasal blockage can all cause this. Pain or pressure around your forehead, eyes that becomes worse when you lie down or bend over a stuffy nose are all symptoms of sinus pain, which can feel like

  • Headache.
  • Running nose with clear, flowing mucus or mucus that is thick and greenish in color
  • Pain around your upper teeth
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of sense of smell (olfactory perception)

What are the symptoms of migraine?

The specific etiology of migraine is unknown. Changes in the amounts of substances generated by the brain, such as serotonin, are thought to impact how the nervous system controls pain. Migraine may also be caused by genetic and environmental causes. A migraine episode can cause

  • Moderate to severe pain is frequently described as throbbing or pulsating pain, that generally affects one side of your head but can also affect both sides.

  • light and sound sensitivity
  • Pain may be severe enough to cause nausea and vomiting
  • Pain that worsens with physical activity

Some migraine sufferers may also experience the following symptoms prior to a migraine attack

  • Prodrome. These symptoms, which can occur up to 24 hours before a migraine onset, include
  • Excessive urination
  • Constipation
  • Alterations in mood
  • Desires for food
  • Often yawning
  • Aura. This is a group of symptoms that can occur up to 60 minutes before a migraine episode but can even occur during one. Aura is not experienced by everyone who has a migraine. Aura symptoms might include:
  • Blind patches, flashing lights, or seeing zigzagging lines are examples of visual disturbances
  • Difficulties speaking, numbness, tingling in your hands, facial weakness, or numbness on one side of your body.

How do you know if you’re experiencing sinus pain or migraine?

When attempting to distinguish between the two diseases, there are a few key factors to consider, including symptoms and time.


Inquire about the symptoms you're experiencing. For example, sinus discomfort is not usually linked with symptoms such as

  • Acute headache pain.
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Prodrome or aura of light and sound sensitivity

If you have one or more of the symptoms listed above, you may have migraine. Furthermore, while migraine can occur with sinus and nasal symptoms, there are specific signs that may suggest sinusitis, such as fever and thick, greenish nasal mucus.


Take into account the time of your headache. A migraine episode can be brought on for a variety of reasons. If your headache appears to coincide with any of the following, it might be a migraine:

  • Ingesting certain meals and beverages, such as alcohol, caffeine, or cured or processed foods
  • Ingesting aspartame and monosodium glutamate as food additives (MSG)
  • Greater amounts of stress than usual, overexertion, missing meals
  • Variables affecting sleep, such as not getting enough sleep or suffering jet lag changes in weather or barometric pressure
  • Unexpected loud noises
  • Unpleasant odours or fumes
  • Oral contraceptives and nitroglycerin are examples of medicines causing migraine.

How are these headaches diagnosed?

To diagnose migraine, your doctor will ask you questions about your headaches such as

  • How frequently they occur and how long they last
  • The kinds of symptoms you feel
  • Whether the headaches occur at certain times or due to specific triggers
  • Whether you have a family history of migraine.

To assist identify migraine, your doctor may also request blood tests or imaging tests such as a CT scan or an MRI scan.

The following are some of the characteristics that doctors use to distinguish sinus discomfort from migraine or other forms of headaches

  • The discomfort must be felt at the front of your head, near your face, ears, or teeth.
  • Documented proof of acute or chronic sinusitis, such as a nasal endoscopy, is required.
  • The discomfort must coincide with sinusitis symptoms.
  • The discomfort goes away after 7 days of sinusitis therapy.

Treatment for sinus pain

  • Corticosteroids. Corticosteroids can aid in the reduction of inflammation in your sinuses. Corticosteroids may be administered through nasal, oral, or injection, depending on your situation.
  • Antibiotics. If your condition is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be recommended.
  • Surgery. If it is suspected that a blockage in your nasal passages is causing your sinusitis to reoccur, surgery may be advised.
  • Treatment for migraine

    Migraine treatment focuses on two aspects: acute treatment and prevention. Typically, this entails a mix of medicines and lifestyle modifications.

    Acute therapy

    This therapy aims to alleviate the symptoms of a migraine episode. It can include: moving to a cool, dark room and closing your eyes; placing a cool compress across your forehead or the back of your neck; drinking plenty of fluids, especially if your migraine is accompanied by vomiting; and medications to relieve the symptoms of a migraine attack.