Attacking the headache allergy!

Is that a headache allergy or an allergy headache? Well, whatever it is, it can actually be quite serious if

you get it.

A headache caused by an allergy is actually fairly rare. Much more often the headache is from migraine and the food is a trigger. That means that food is not causing what is technically an allergic reaction.

Is it a headache allergy or a migraine?

Read the page on this website about migraine symptoms to familiarize yourself with those. If you get a headache fairly quickly after you eat something, and it's accompanied by hives, swelling lips, difficulty breathing, vomiting, or rapid heartbeat, that's a sign you may have an allergy headache. See your doctor right away! Food allergies can get very serious very fast.

Food intolerance, on the other hand, may be more unpredictable. It may require a larger amount of food, and your body may take longer to react.

Similar symptoms may also arise from non-food allergies. Of course, we're all familiar with congestion and sneezing that some people get at certain times of the year. But keep in mind that congestion is also a symptom of migraines, so don't automatically assume that allergy or sinus congestion is actually causing your headache.

Special note for migraineurs...

Even if you don't technically have an allergy, the things that cause a reaction in some people may trigger a migraine in you. Obviously food triggers migraines in many people, but there are many environmental factors to take into account as well.

A study in 2006 showed a clear link between nasal allergies (hay fever) and migraine.  In the study, 34% of those with hay fever also had migraine, and only 4% of those without hay fever had migraine.  We're not sure what the link is - it may be that histamine is a trigger for migraine.  But whatever the cause, it may be wise to take a closer look at the symptoms.  Is it a nasal allergy, or migraine?  Remember, migraine can cause congestion too.

Lois Turley RN is a nurse who has been involved in allergy nursing since 1991, and she has some excellent tips on allergy and headache allergy related things at her website. For migraine-specific information, check out this book by the director of the New York Headache Clinic.

What can I do about it?

First, if you suspect you have an allergy, see your doctor right away for treatment and further testing. Your doctor will help you figure out what foods or environmental factors to avoid. She may prescribe a medication as well. Ask her about taking painkillers along with the other treatment, if you find you may have to endure a certain number of headaches.

Many of the home remedies and painkillers on this website will be relevant to you, whether you find that you have a headache allergy or a migraine.

You may also want to educate yourself about migraines and food triggers and see if you have headache allergy AND migraine or just migraine.


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