Difference between Sinusitis and Migraine

Your nose is stuffy and runny, and your forehead and cheeks ache. Is it safe to assume you have a sinus headache? Perhaps not. Migraine can also cause headaches and a runny nose. It’s a frequent misperception. Misdiagnosis is so common that one study discovered that 95% of patients who felt they had a sinus headache were actually suffering from a migraine.

You have every right to consult your neurologist, but be prepared to learn that your headaches aren’t caused by sinusitis alone. There’s a strong likelihood that you may be suffering from migraines rather than debilitating headaches caused by sinusitis or seasonal allergies, which all have a similar set of symptoms. Let us try to draw a fine line between these two types of health issues.

Difference between sinusitis and migraine


Migraine is more than just a throbbing headache. When compared with other headaches, it’s a debilitating neurological disease with unique symptoms and therapeutic options. According to the American Migraine Foundation, at least 39 million Americans suffer from migraines. However, because many patients do not receive a correct diagnosis or the therapy they require, the true figure is likely to be higher.

Migraine Symptoms

  1. Nausea
  2. Vomiting
  3. Nasal discharge that is thin and transparent
  4. Intolerance to strong scents
  5. Light and noise sensitivity
  6. Pain in the ear or in the upper teeth


Severe sinus headaches, also known as rhinosinusitis, are uncommon. A bacterial or viral sinus infection is the source, which is marked by thick, brownish nasal discharge. Signs include a loss of scent or no smell, facial pain or swelling, and, most usually, a fever. After viral symptoms disappear or antibiotic treatment is successful, facial pain and headache should resolve within 7 days.  If the pain persists, your diagnosis should be reevaluated.

Sinusitis Symptoms

  1. Fever
  2. Cough
  3. Nasal discharge that is thick
  4. Reduced olfactory perception
  5. Pain in the ear or in the upper teeth

Difference between Sinusitis and migraine

Individuals who frequently suffer from allergies and have runny noses are ten times more likely to suffer from migraines. Some of the causes of asthma and migraine are somewhat similar. Do sinus and respiratory issues contribute to migraines? Perhaps not, however, it appears that these illnesses are linked in some way. If you want to feel well, you’ll need a proper diagnosis and, if you have many conditions, you’ll need to address each one individually, even if they’re occurring at the same time.

Similar symptoms

  • A stuffy nose
  • Nose congestion
  • Red or watery eyes
  • A lot of pressure in your forehead and cheekbones.

When to visit a doctor

Make an appointment if:

  • You are experiencing headaches more frequently and with greater severity
  • Over-the-counter drugs don’t seem to help
  • You are unable to work, sleep, or engage in typical activities.
  • Other issues are associated with headaches

A strong headache could be a sign of something more dangerous, including a stroke, meningitis, or encephalitis. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, seek medical help right away:

  • Confusion or difficulty understanding
  • fainting
  • Fever more than 102 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Weakness on one side of your body
  • Numbness, feebleness or paralysis

Bottom Line

You should be able to make an accurate judgment about what could be the cause of your headaches if you have a basic awareness of the most frequent and evident variations between migraine headaches without aura and headaches caused by sinusitis. Even if you are convinced that you are suffering from sinus headaches rather than migraines, consult your neurologist for a proper diagnosis. A neurologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of migraine evaluates your condition thoroughly and then makes an accurate diagnosis.

The Difference Between Migraine and Sinus Headache