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Migraine Headaches Relief and Treatment

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Chicago Migraine Headache Specialist

Migraine headaches affect up to 15% of the U.S. population and are a leading cause of disability and missed school or work.  What many don’t realize is that allergies and migraines are strongly interconnected.  In fact, patients with hay fever are up to 10 times more likely to develop migraine headaches than those who do not have allergies. The reason for this, in part, is the histamine connection.  Histamine is a chemical released in the body that causes many of the symptoms most allergy sufferers experience- itching, sneezing, coughing, and itchy/watery eyes.  

Recent medical research has found that histamine also plays a role in migraine headaches as well.  So for many patients, the histamine released during an allergy attack may also affect their migraines.  It is for this reason that treating allergy symptoms may actually decrease the severity and frequency of migraine headaches. 

Dr. Rotskoff has studied this connection between allergies and migraines extensively.  He has successfully implemented natural treatment regimens that can help the majority of patients who have continued to suffer from migraine, sinus, and allergy-related headaches.

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The migraine headache cycle

Understanding the symptoms of early headache phases can often provide the best opportunity to stave off or treat the headache.

Phase 1:  Pre-Headache Premonitory Phase (1-3 days)


This is initial phase of the headache cycle occurs prior to approximately 50% of migraine headache episodes. During this phase, symptoms are vague and easy to overlook. Patients may feel like they are “coming down with something” and many falsely believe they may be getting a sinus infection.

Symptoms during Phase 1 may include:

  • Fatigue, weariness, and yawning
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood changes
  • Neck pain
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Nasal congestion, runny nose, and watery eyes*
  • Facial pressure *
  • Food cravings or nausea
  • Blurred vision

* Sinus-like symptoms occur in up to 70% of migraine headache episodes, leading many patients to believe the sinuses or allergies are the sole cause of the pressure or pain.

Recognizing these symptoms as the onset of a migraine allows patients to intervene with prevention strategies, such as:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) such as Motrin or Advil
  • Migraine specific medications (Triptan medications such as Imitrex)
  • Stress reduction and adequate sleep
  • Avoidance of known headache triggers
  • Proper hydration and nutrition

Phase 2:  Migraine Headache Phase (4 hours-3 days, severe episodes can last 1-2 weeks)

Migraine Aura

  • Approximately 25% migraines start with neurologic symptoms called auras
  • Small areas of visual loss or bright lights that may expand
  • Geometric shapes and zigzag lines may appear
  • Tingling or numbness in the extremities or face on one side is common
  • Typically lasts 5-30 minutes and is followed by the headache

Initial Mild Headache

  • Pain/ pressure of the forehead and cheekbones, can progress to throbbing pain
  • Bending over can worsen the headache
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Better response to headache medications and fewer side effects during the mild phase

Moderate to Severe Headache

  • Increasing severity of pain and other symptoms
  • Decreasing response to headache medications; narcotics may be required as severity progresses
  • Pain when lightly touching areas of face or brushing hair (cutaneous allodynia)
  • Worsening light and sound sensitivity; a quiet and dark room may help
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache often become disabling; patients frequently need to “sleep the headache off”

Phase 3:  Post-Headache Phase (3-7 days)

  • Resolution of the headache phase most often comes during sleep
  • Continued fatigue, lethargy, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and muscle soreness

Migraine Take-Away:

Confusion between illness, allergies, and migraines is often due to the length of the migraine headache cycle. Continued symptoms lead many patients to believe they are actually sick, rather than suffering from a migraine. If you suffer from recurrent sinus and headache symptoms without discolored nasal discharge, you are likely suffering from migraines and not sinus infections.


Common headache triggers

  • Weather and barometric pressure changes, exposure to extreme heat or cold
  • Strong light such as sunlight, fluorescent light flickering, computer, or television
  • Strong odors, perfumes, cigarette smoke
  • Nasal allergies (allergic rhinitis/hay fever)
  • Menstrual cycle/hormonal fluctuation
  • Dehydration and hunger/skipping meals
  • Dietary (Alcohol particularly red wine or beer, processed meats, fermented cheeses, MSG, artificial sweeteners)
  • Acute illness such as a cold
  • Travel across time zones
  • Stress or the let-down period that follows a stressful event or time
  • Poor sleep habits such as too much/too little sleep, sleep apnea, TMJ, and teeth grinding
  • Overuse of medications such as Motrin or Advil
  • Caffeine consumption – either too much caffeine or suddenly stopping long-standing caffeine use

Migraine headache diagnosis and treatment 

Clarity Allergy Center provides comprehensive migraine headache testing, diagnosis and treatment in the Chicago-land area. In addition to serving the Chicago area, Clarity Allergy Center has an office in Arlington Heights and conveniently serves the following surrounding areas:

Morton Grove, Skokie, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Evanston, Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Niles, Kenilworth, Wilmette, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Elk Grove, Buffalo Grove, Bartlett, Lake Zurich, Schaumburg, and Elgin

Have questions? Call Us: 773-877-3500