As winter fades, flowers bloom, and sunshine brings more people outside. Though the scene may sound pleasant, it can also cause headaches.
Sinus headaches can be triggered by allergies, and bright sunshine and springtime noise may aggravate migraine symptoms. Both types of headaches can cause focused, throbbing pain centered in the face.
Allergy-related headaches occur when pressure builds up in the sinuses. To keep outdoor springtime allergies from aggravating your sinuses, spend more time indoors and keep your house free of as many allergens as possible. Change clothes and take a shower when you come in from outside to limit pollen exposure, and speak to an allergist if your symptoms change or worsen.
Though many people self-diagnose sinus headaches, it’s far more likely that they are experiencing migraines. While anyone can get a migraine, women are three times more likely to experience them than men. Migraines can be caused by many factors including bright light, loud noises and strong odors—all of which are prevalent in spring. As with sinus headaches, staying away from triggers can reduce your likelihood for migraines, and doctors can prescribe medicine to treat or help prevent symptoms.
While it may be a migraine, most headaches are caused by tension. Tense muscles in your scalp, neck and face can cause a feeling of dull pressure in your head called a tension headache. This tension may result from:
If you’re experiencing tension headaches often, keep a journal to track when they occur, how long they last, what you ate and drank that day, and how much you slept the night before. This can help you pinpoint the cause of your headaches and make adjustments to prevent them. Some adjustments may include getting more sleep, consuming less caffeine or setting aside more time to relax away from work or computer screens.
Over-the-counter pain medication can be used to treat symptoms of tension headaches and some migraines. However, if you find yourself routinely taking pain medication more than three days a week, you may experience rebound headaches from overuse. Take care not to consume too much acetaminophen or ibuprofen, as overuse can also damage your stomach, liver and kidneys. If your headaches are persistent, see your doctor for treatment.
To find primary care services near you, visit stvincent.org/services/primary-care.