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Possible Connection Between Cincinnati Sinus and Migraines

CINCINNATI (WKRC) -- There could be a connection between the co-called Cincinnati sinuses and migraine headaches, especially in women. Medical reporter Liz Bonis has details of a new study released by researchers at the University of Cincinnati in our medical edge.

Whether you sneeze from chronic sinus problems throughout the year or seasonal allergies, your head may pay the price. Dr. Vincent Martin, a headache and facial pain specialist, and Dr. Johnathan Bernstein, an allergy and immunology specialist, were co-authors in this new study.

They found migraine headaches far more prevalent in those with rhinitis, which is sinus inflammation. "In fact, in our study, we found that migraine headaches were about thirty percent more likely in migraine patients that had allergies and hayfever."

Dr. Martin says it's possible sinus induced sleep problems, such as sleep apnea are behind these horrible headaches, "another other possibility, is the nerves that produce migraines go to the nose and the sinuses,  and if you have inflammation in the nose that could activate those nerves and produce headache."

So the question then remains, do you treat the headaches, or do you treat the sinus problems, and the answer appears to be that you may need to treat a little bit of both.

Dr. Bernstein says  if you currently take medication for migraines without success, "you might also need to ask your doctor about treatment for sinus troubles or even allergy shots. I just had a patient  yesterday who came in and she was having 15 to 16 migraines a month, she is now down to two or three a month, and she is ecstatic because we managed her rhinitis and we managed her headaches."

Getting the right treatment may be even more critical if you are female. "Women are three times more likely to have migraine than men and in our study, women were more likely to have more frequent headaches, and also  more disabling headaches." So it was the combined approach between the headache specialist and the allergist that made the big difference for this patient.

Researchers say it's not clear yet which comes first, the headaches or the sinus problems, but it is clear both need to be treated for migraines to diminish.




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