Allergy season can be a major headache

  • 2

SARASOTA, Fla. -- If you suffer from allergies then you know by now that this year’s season has been particularly bad. The coughing, sneezing and wheezing can make you miserable, with allergy driven headaches so bad they can interfere with your everyday life.

Bertha Minot is one of millions of Americans suffering from allergy driven headaches -- and they get bad.

“Debilitatingly bad,” she says. “You've got to get in a room, you've got to close off all light, no noise. I need to be cold. Your head pulsates, and you just get to the point where you can't stand it anymore.”

Minot tries to stop the symptoms by taking over the counter medications, but sometimes they don't work

“I've got a cold rub on my face, or heat, and then I go into migraine medication,” she says.

Dr. Eva Berkes of the Hawthorne Clinic and Research Institute says allergy headaches which can feel exactly like a migraine simply don't go away.

“My migraine patients will take several of their migraine medications and the allergy headache can be there for days and days,” Dr. Berkes says.

Medications, including antihistamines may help at the onset of allergy symptoms including congestion, but you have to act fast.

“I tell patients, if they know they're going to have a devastating headache if they don't do something quickly, there's also a simple trick which is using a simple over the counter nasal spray decongestant,” Dr. Berkes says.

A few sprays right when symptoms begin can help, but it can also become habit-forming. Dr. Jack Wazen of the Silverstein Institute says that there’s an outpatient procedure that offers relief when sprays, pills and shots fall short.

A balloon is inserted through the nose into the sinus cavities, where it is then inflated. Patients will almost immediately feel the difference once the sinuses are drained and ventilated – usually taking the headaches with them.

Prescription nasal steroids are also quite effective for treating chronic congestion that may trigger severe or recurrent sinus headaches. Nasacort is one such product that is now available over the counter. And for those looking for a non-medical treatment, salt water nasal rinses are an option.