New research published in the journal Cephalagia found that people with both migraines and rhinitis have more frequent headaches compared with people who have migraines but not rhinitis.
“We are not sure whether the rhinitis causes the increased frequency of headaches or whether the migraine attacks themselves produce symptoms of of rhinitis in these patients. What we can say is if you have these symptoms, you are more likely to have more frequent and disabling headaches” says study researcher Vince Martin, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati.
The study took place at Montefiore Medical Center, Vedante Research and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Close to 6,000 people with migraines took part in the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention Study. They were asked “Do you suffer from nasal allergies, seasonal allergies or hay fever?” An answer of yes indicated that they had rhinitis.
The researchers found that two-thirds of the people with migraine also had rhinitis, and that headache frequency was 33% greater among people who had migraine and rhinitis, as opposed those who had just migraine.
Those people who had “mixed rhinitis” where their allergy symptoms were triggered by known triggers such as dogs and cats and tree pollen, but also to non-allergic triggers like weather, cigarette smoke and perfume appeared to have it the worst. They had a 45% higher risk of having more frequent headaches and a 60% higher risk of experiencing more disabling headaches when compared to those without rhinitis.
Study researcher Richard Lipton, M.D. of Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine said in a statement, “The nose has largely been ignored as an important site involved in the initiation and exacerbation of migraine headache. If rhinitis exacerbates migraine, as these results suggest, treating rhinitis may provide an important approach to relieving headache in people with both disorders.
Approximately one quarter to one half of Americans experience allergies and around 12% of Americans get migraines. huffposthealth 11/25/13