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    Tuesday, June 15, 2004

    Aching Heads: In ground-breaking work, a group of neurologists announced at the American Headache Society's annual meeting that not every headache is a sinus headache:

    In their study, Eross and his colleagues examined 100 people who answered a newspaper ad seeking people who thought they had sinus headache. Each patient had an extensive evaluation and some had imaging tests.

    The researchers found that 63 percent were actually suffering from migraines, 23 percent had probable migraine and 9 percent had headaches that couldn't be classified. The patients with unclassified headaches probably have sinus headache, Eross noted.

    In addition, 3 percent had headaches secondary to a sinus infection, 1 percent had cluster headaches and 1 percent had hemicrania continua, a rare type of chronic headache, he added.

    On average, the people who actually had migraine had gone 25 years without a correct diagnosis, Eross said. About 28 million Americans suffer from migraines.

    'Most folks who think they have sinus headache are most likely using sinus medication to treat what is really migraine, and so they are not getting the appropriate and most effective treatment,' Eross said.


    Their solution? Get headache treatment only from neurologists:

    If you think that you have sinus headaches, he said, most probably you have migraines. "Make sure you see someone who specializes in headache, either a headache specialist or neurologist," he stressed.

    There aren't enough neurologists to take care of every headache patient. Not only that, but their "discovery" really isn't news. Here's a pediatrician making the same observation in May 2001, and here's a group of otolaryngologists making the same point. The bottom line is, if you don't have other respiratory symptoms with your headache (runny nose, cough, watery or itchy eyes, etc.), you probably don't have a sinus headache.
     

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