By Heather Legg
Headaches are a pretty common ailment and there is a lot of strong evidence that they go hand in hand with allergies. I know for me – someone who is prone to headaches, but not allergies – even has a connection. If I have a headache in the works and eat certain foods (like peanut butter) the headache gets worse. If I have no headache to start with and eat peanut butter, I’m fine. So what is the connection with allergies and headaches? And is the connection food related, allergic rhinitis related or both?
According to http://allergies.about.com/od/noseandsinusallergies/a/ar_migraines.htm, allergic rhinitis is closely linked with migraine headaches.
Allergic rhinitis may often lead to a “sinus headache”. An allergic reaction leads to the release of histamine, which can also lead to the dilation of blood vessels in the brain, and therefore cause or worsen a migraine headache.Do People with Allergies Suffer More Migraines?
In at least one study, this appears to be the case. People with allergic rhinitis were determined to meet criteria for migraine headaches far more likely than people without allergic rhinitis. In fact, those with allergies were approximately 14 times more likely to report migraine headaches compared to those without allergies.
Studies show that while using antihistamines for the treatment and prevention of migraine headaches isn’t effective, it has been suggested that more aggressive treatments including nasal sprays and allergy shots may help prevent headaches in those seem to have migraines caused by allergic triggers.
Do food allergies cause headaches/migraines?
Though usually headaches induced by food are considered the result of a food intolerance rather than an allergy, to me it is a warning that the food isn’t agreeing with the body for whatever reason. Though it may not lead to the more dangerous effects of a food allergy, like anaphylaxis, I would think that if a particular food is definitely linked to causing a headache, you may want to stay away from it. Just like in my case, if I have a headache, I stay away from peanuts and peanut butter.
An interesting study entitled “Maybe it was Something I Ate, the Headache Nutrition Connection” states that chocolate, alcohol and cheese are big culprits of migraines. But it has also been found that many foods ingested on a daily basis also bring on headaches, like oranges, wheat and sugar.