Aah allergy season, with the wheezing and the sneezing and the itchy eyes…..and the headaches?! Yes, headaches! While most people don’t attribute head pain to allergies, it is often a manifestation of underlying allergy problems.
Headaches can occur as a result of allergy-related sinus problems. Allergies cause the lining of the sinuses to become inflamed, trapping mucus and fluid inside the sinus cavities. The mounting pressure from the full sinuses can lead to pain that generates from behind the cheekbones, eyes and forehead.
Allergy-related headaches can also feel like a migraine and occur after you eat foods that you are allergic to or as you become exposed to high levels of pollen in the environment. Since allergic reactions often cause swelling, frequent headaches during allergy season have been attributed to swollen blood vessels in the head.
So what should you do about allergic headaches? Medication can help mitigate the pain, but if you suspect that allergies are the culprit, consider consulting an allergist about a treatment known as immunotherapy—the only treatment that changes the underlying allergy instead of just its symptoms.
Immunotherapy begins with a serum containing trace amounts of proteins from common allergens including pollens and pet dander. As you take your allergy serum, your body becomes comfortable with these allergens instead of releasing a host of harmful chemicals to “attack” them every time it encounters them in the environment. (It is this “attack” that leads to allergic reactions including headaches, sinus problems, eczema, asthma, ear infections, and more.)
Immunotherapy can be administered through allergy injections or through allergy drops that absorb into the bloodstream through special cells in the mouth.
Dr. Stuart Agren is the founder of AllergyEasy, a nationwide network of physicians specializing in sublingual immunotherapy which is taken as under-the-tongue drops. Agren said that he has found the drops to be more popular than the shot version of immunotherapy.
“In this busy day and age, it’s tough for people to get to the doctor’s office a couple times a week for shots,” said Dr. Agren. “Drops are safer than shots so they can be taken in the comfort of home. So not only are drops effective, they’re also really convenient.”
And they work long-term, which beats popping pills for every new headache while allergy season stretches on.