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Physician Diagnosed and Patient Self-Described
'Sinus Headache' is Predominately Migraine
Curtis P. Schreiber, M.D., Susan Hutchinson, M.D., et al.
Posted November 2002  
Presented at: AHS Conference, Seattle WA, June 21-23, 2002

Background:   Of the approximately 14 million undiagnosed migraineurs who meet criteria for migraine as defined by the International Headache Society (IHS), 42% reported a physician diagnosis of "sinus headache". A past study has shown that 96% of patients who presented with self-described or physician diagnosed sinus headaches actually met IHS diagnostic criteria for migraine with and without aura and migrainous headache.

Objective:   To determine the percentage of patients with self-described or physician-diagnosed "sinus headache" that fulfill migraine-type diagnosis as defined by the IHS diagnostic criteria for migraine without aura, migraine with aura, or migrainous headache.

Methods:   Eligible patients presenting with self-described or physician-diagnosed "sinus headache" were enrolled into the study and evaluated for a headache diagnosis. Patients were asked to describe the symptoms associated with their typical "sinus headache". Physicians used IHS criteria to diagnose the headache as migraine with or without aura, migrainous, tension or other headache type. These data report the results of an interim analysis and includes data from 2524 patients enrolled as of a predefined data cut-off date.


  • 90% of patients presenting with "sinus headache" meet criteria for migraine-type diagnosis (migraine with aura, migraine without aura, or migrainous headache).
  • Although not used as part of the IHS definition of migraine, "sinus" symptoms such as sinus pain/pressure, nasal congestion and runny nose are common clinical features of migraine.
  • Patients are significantly impacted by these headaches and are often dissatisfied with their current headache treatment.
  • Clinicians need to consider the clinical presentation of "sinus headache" as a common presentation of migraine.