All that you need to know about sinusitis & migraine

It happens to all of us at some point or the other. And it can be truly debilitating. The swelling, congestion, pain, headache & the overall misery of a sinus attack can be terribly frustrating. Unfortunately some people can only be helped by surgery. But for the rest of you…Read on… Some patients seem to have a constant cold. They have a good reason to investigate for sinusitis.

Remember that during a sinus attack, your main goal is to keep the nasal mucus thin and free – flowing, so that it doesn’t breed an infection. So drink a lot of warm fluids through the day (it could even be just warm water). This keeps the nose unclogged. The additional liquid intake will help keep the mucus flowing. Hot beverages like tea, soups, chicken broths are especially good. Steam inhalation also helps you to keep your nasal passages open.

Most people get a sinus attack due to an allergen as in food (food colours, MSG, preservatives, citrus fruits, milk, eggs, fish, peas, nuts, corn) or an inhalant (dust, pollen in plants, molds etc). Taking vitamin C & vitamin A supplements helps to make the mucus thin & keeps it free flowing. It also strengthens the immune system, to help counter future attacks of sinusitis.

Migraine: There are ways & means of avoiding them once you are aware of the causes. It could vary from person to person. The food triggers include cabbage, brinjal, pineapple, tomato, cheese, canned fish, alcohol (mainly wine or beer) & yeast containing foods like bread, cakes etc. There are also some who are sensitive to foods containing mono-sodium glutamate, food co toms, artificial sweetness. The solution is really quite simple. All you have to do it maintain a food diary in which you write down the time and date when you got your migraine attack and the foods you consume on a daily basis. Within 2 weeks you will come to some correlation between the food that you have eaten (check if it is a part of the above given list) and your migraine attack. Eliminate that food completely & continue checking whether the migraine occurs with less frequency. The next time it hits you again, establish a correlation between the food that you have eaten & the time of attack. It is possible that two or more foods could trigger a migraine attack in the same person as these foods may contain the same causative agents (amines). Also the quantity of that particulate allergen is also important. You may get a migraine attack with tomato chutney, but eating tomatoes cooked in vegetables may not give you a migraine attack proving to you that eating tomatoes in large quantities is not good for your migraine, but eating it in vegetables is alright. Once a patient drank tea in order to cure her migraine. She felt that drinking tea or coffee would help her get over her headache (like is the common belief). Since she was weight conscious she would take her tea & coffee with a sweetner. Once she ran out of stock of her sweetners she was compelled to take it with sugar. After a couple of days she realized that her migraines had disappeared. She found that it was only the sweetner in her tea & coffee that caused her migraine. The more migraine she had the more tea with sweetner she consumed. Migraine could affect some women just before their menstrual cycle. A change in hormone levels could be a cause of a migraine attack. Once you know that it is only pre menstrual, you have nothing to worry about. You know that it will go away. Talk to your Gynac about it. Other foods less likely to cause a migraine are apples, corn, cow’s milk, egg, onions, peanuts, soyabean, walnuts, wheat.

Low blood sugar caused by fasting or by skipping meals also could cause a headache, which usually disappears following a meal. But for those prone to migraines, the low blood sugar may just start off a chain of headaches, which may not necessarily stop after a meal. Therefore for those suffering from migraine it is important that they do not keep fasts or attempt to skip meals. Eating something every few hours helps toward off such migraine attacks precipitated by low blood sugar. As fluctuating hormone levels are responsible for migraines in some, taking birth –control pills could affect migraine. If your migraine is due to stress and anxiety & you are aware of the cause, you could easily help yourself by destressing yourself by an exercise plan. Take a brisk walk everyday for about 30-40 min. It will make all the difference.

Some times people mistake a sinusitis headache with a migraine headache. The way to differentiate is:

You have a migraine

  • Only one side of your head is affected.
  • You get a series of attacks, giving you a feeling of irritability, depression , & ‘flashing bulbs’.
  • If you get nausea and vomiting along with the headache.

You suffer from sinus

  • When you bend over with your head downwards – if you feel a throbbing pain & feel your head is ‘loaded’
  • If you feel no change at all you probably just have a mild headache with a cold.

Once you have detected the causative factor of your migraine attack, there is hope. You can either avoid that food item completely if it is due to a food allergen. If premenstrual, or stress related, or due to skipping meals you can take preventive measures accordingly.

ANJALI MUKERJEE, Nutritionist, Founder Director-Health Total, having health centers
in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune -manages obesity & other health related disorders.
Contact numbers: 1800 8918131/+91 86575 61727
For further information, Visit

January 20, 2021

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