Ah, spring. The flowers are bursting from the ground, the trees are growing back their leaves, and sneezing becomes the new norm. We all know that running eyes and excessive sneezing happens at this time of the year but why are your headaches increasing?
Have you ever wondered why your headaches increase every time your allergies start acting up? Are you tired of trying to decide if you should take headache pain medication or sinus medication? And, have you noticed that your neck starts aching at this time of the year also?
Well, we have some answers for you today – It’s All Connected. But how are your allergies connected to you headaches?
The answer is – through your sinuses. Your sinuses basically sit in the middle of your brain. You know how you feel that deep aching pain that seems to come out through your eyes, between your ears, or wraps around the back of your head and into your forehead? Often that is pressure that is building up in your sinuses.
The sinuses are hollow spaces in the skull that surround your nose. There are actually four pairs of sinuses and they help to filter out all the things that are entering our bodies through our nose. Of course, during allergy season this system becomes overwhelmed as our body is responding to the normal irritants in the air. But, if we have allergies, our body also creates an abnormal reaction that increases the reaction to the normal irritants and sends our sinuses into overdrive.
This increased reaction causes increased inflammation and increased mucous production in our sinuses. And, since the space in our sinuses is limited, this leads to increased pressure.
Limited space + increased mucus production = too much pressure.
This increased pressure may be felt between your eyes, behind your eyes, through your forehead, or even in your ears. The sinuses sit in between all of these structures which explains why these symptoms may vary between different people.
What do your sinuses have to do with headaches? Well, not only is there increased pressure due to increased fluid through you sinuses but there is also increased pressure placed on the nerves that can cause headaches. See, there are nerves located deep in your brain, not too far from your sinuses. These nerves help to control the muscles and functions of the face.
When there is increased pressure in your sinuses there may also be increased pressure on these nerves. Having this pressure on the cranial nerves can lead to increased headaches. Which leaves you wondering if you should be reaching for a headache reliever or allergy medication. Which problem do you address first?
Add into that many people feel like their neck gets stiff and sore along with all these other symptoms. What is going on? Well, we find that many people have low grade neck stiffness or soreness that does not register on a daily basis. This means that they usually don’t struggle with their neck stiffness because they don’t really notice it on a daily basis. But, you add in fullness in the sinuses due to allergies and the increased pressure on the cranial nerves and it’s no wonder that your neck stiffness starts getting really aggravated.
You may find yourself getting to the point where you are unable to turn your head, take a deep breath through your nose, or feel like you are constantly foggy headed. In fact, we have even had patients who struggled with vertigo during this time of the year!
In fact, one patient I saw had vertigo so bad every spring and fall that she had to miss 3 days of work. She was forced to stay in bed due to vertigo that would cause her to get so dizzy that she couldn’t stand up without losing her lunch. She was even taking allergy medication on a daily basis and had an emergency medication that she would use during allergy season. With this patient, I had to deal with her vertigo issues, then her sinus issues, and the final step was eliminating her neck issues. Although the process to complete healing took some time, I am happy to report that she has made it 4 years without vertigo symptoms at this time.
Here at Physical Therapy for everyBody, we are headache specialist. We are able to help you with your headaches if they are caused by allergies, sinus issues, or a lack of movement in your neck. We would love to hear your headache story and see if you are a good fit for what we offer here at Physical Therapy for everyBODY. Feel free to click here to sign up for one of our Free Discovery Visits. We offer these visits to people who are skeptical about Physical Therapy, nervous about talking about their headaches, or have been let down by everyone in the past. If you wish that someone would listen to your story and finally put the pieces of the puzzle together then please reach out for one of our Free Discovery Visits.