Can Allergies Cause Headaches?

Most everyone knows that allergies can lead to sniffling and sneezing, but they can also lead to other symptoms that most people don’t associate with allergy such as headaches.

According to Dr. Stuart Agren, director of the Family Allergy Clinic in Mesa, Arizona, head pain is a common complaint among allergy sufferers.

“Many of my incoming patients report a history of headaches,” said Dr. Agren. “Most people just think they have been coincidentally cursed with a double whammy and are surprised to learn that the two are often linked.”

Headaches may result from allergy-induced sinus infections. Allergies cause the sinuses to swell so that mucus cannot drain properly into the nasal passage. Pressure from swollen, clogged sinuses leads to pain in the forehead and behind the eyes.

Many allergy sufferers also report migraine-like headaches during allergy season. Though the link between head pain and allergies is still being researched, many experts believe that chemicals such as histamine that are released during allergic reactions cause blood vessels in the head to swell, leading to head pain.

Headaches have also been attributed to food allergies.

If you suffer from headaches in addition to any other allergy symptoms (asthma, hives, sinusitis, runny or congested nose, etc.) or if your headaches occur more frequently during allergy season, consider consulting a physician about the possibility of allergy treatment.

If your allergies are severe enough to affect your quality of life or if they last for more than a few months of the year, you may be a candidate for allergy immunotherapy. Immunotherapy exposes your body to an allergy serum (administered through shots or oral drops) made up of extracts of common allergens (pollens, etc.) As your body becomes accustomed to these allergens, it will stop overreacting to them in ways that lead to troublesome allergy symptoms.

In addition to headaches, allergy can lead to asthma, chronic cough, sinus and ear infections, hives, eczema, and fatigue.

Dr. Agren said that most of his patients opt for allergy drops rather than shots because they are safer than shots and can be administered at home. In all, he has treated more than 15,000 patients using allergy drops, most of whom have experienced symptom relief within a few months of starting treatment.

According to Dr. Agren, one of the biggest benefits of allergy immunotherapy—whether it is taken through shots or drops–is that it provides a long-term solution.

“If your headaches are allergic in nature, they will continue to cause misery with each allergy season,” said Dr. Agren. “Immunotherapy allows you to treat the heart of the problem—not just its symptoms.”