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Allergies That Trigger Migraine Headaches

By Rose Erickson ; Updated August 14, 2017

Approximately 36 million Americans experience migraine headaches, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Although a variety of things can trigger migraines, you are more likely to develop migraines if you suffer from allergies. Migraines are rarely life-threatening, but they can temporarily debilitate you and affect your quality of life.

Allergy Migraine Defined

An allergy migraine can vary from mild to intense. Typically, an allergy migraine causes throbbing head pain on one side of the head. Additional symptoms can include blurry vision, nausea, eye pain, visual disturbances such as seeing zigzag lines or spots, chills, tunnel vision, sweating, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, loss of appetite or a temporary blind spot. Bright light or sunlight can aggravate an allergy migraine. Symptoms can develop several hours before the migraine and can linger long after the headache goes away.

Common Culprits

Allergy migraines can be triggered by an allergic reaction to food. With a food allergy, the immune system mistakes a food as harmful and releases substances that can trigger head pain and congestion. Migraines can also be caused by seasonal allergies or hay fever. Seasonal allergies can cause the sinuses to swell, which can trigger migraines. Allergy migraines can also be caused by common indoor allergens like urine, dried skin, pet dander, cockroach particles, mold and dust mite droppings.

Help Is Here

Take an over-the counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, as soon as you notice allergy migraine symptoms. Go to a quiet room, turn the lights off and rest. Place a cool compress or washcloth on your head to help ease symptoms. It is also helpful to practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing. If your migraine is severe, your doctor may prescribe a medication, an injection or a nasal spray to help relieve symptoms. Keep a diary that details which foods you ate and which allergens you may have been exposed to before the onset of the migraine. A diary can help you and your doctor determine an exact cause. An allergist can also perform an allergy test to identify the culprit.

When It’s Serious

See your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms: your migraine does not go away despite home remedies, reoccurs frequently, or if you experience extreme nausea, stomach pain, vomiting or an irregular heartbeat. Call for immediate medical assistance if your pain is severe or comes on suddenly, if you develop speech problems, experience loss of balance or your head pain is worse when you lie down. These could be symptoms of a more serious condition such as a stroke.

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