“We are not sure whether the rhinitis causes the increased frequency of headaches or whether the migraine attacks themselves produce symptoms of rhinitis in these patients,” said lead study author Dr. Vincent Martin. “What we can say is if you have these symptoms, you are more likely to have more frequent and disabling headaches.”
For the study, researchers gathered together survey data from the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention Study, known as AMPP. They discovered that 67 percent of respondents with migraines also experienced rhinitis.
For the study’s purposes, rhinitis was defined as a positive answer to the question, “Do you suffer from nasal allergies, seasonal allergies or hay fever?” Headache-related disability was also associated with rhinitis.
Based on the results, the authors note that there was a 33 percent greater likelihood for those with migraines and rhinitis to experience more frequent headaches, as opposed to those who experience migraines but not rhinitis.
“This and other research indicate that allergies and hay fever may not just represent innocent bystanders in the migraine patient,” notes Martin. “Clearly more research needs to be done to define their precise role.”
A past study by UC researchers have found that people who experienced both migraines and rhinitis who received allergy shots had 52 percent fewer migraines than those who didn’t get the shots.
“The nose has largely been ignored as an important site involved in the initiation and exacerbation of migraine headache,” said Dr. Richard Lipton of the Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, who also contributed to the study. “If rhinitis exacerbates migraine, as these results suggest, treating rhinitis may provide an important approach to relieving headache in people with both disorders.”
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