Starts with sinus headache. Typical of migraine?

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  • Full Question:

    It starts with a sinus headache over the eyes, then the back of my head, usually the left side has pressure and feels bruised.  A throbbing sensation.  Sometimes I feel dizzy.  A quick feeling of dizziness.  This type of headache cones and goes.  Have had every type of test, MRI, cat scans, MS tests. All negative.  A neurologist wanted me to take anti seizure meds for migraines.  No thanks.  I usually take Excedrin.  Is this a typical type of migraine?  It just scares me.


    Full Answer:

    Dear Sandra;


    Sinus headache is very rare unless you have a sinus infection. The vast majority of what people think are sinus headaches are actually migraines. You can find more information on this in Sinuses Giving You a Headache? It’s Probably a Migraine.

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    What you describe could well be migraine, but we can't say that it is in your case because nobody can diagnose via the internet. Take a look at this article for information about the four possible phases of a migraine attack and their potential symptoms - Anatomy of a Migraine.


    Sandra, it's not unusual for tests performed on people with migraine to come back negative. They're performed to rule out other causes of the symptoms. There's no diagnostic test for migraine. It's diagnosed by reviewing the patient's medical history and their family's, discussing their symptoms with them, performing a neurological exam, and sometimes, imaging studies.


    Medications used for migraine prevention, such as the anti-seizure medication your doctor recommended, are usually considered if someone has three or more migraines a month or if their migraines are especially severe or debilitating. If you disagree with your diagnosis or the suggested treatment plan, there's nothing wrong with getting a second opinion. It’s important to note that neurologists aren’t necessarily Migraine and headache specialists. Take a look at the article Migraine and Headache Specialists - What's So Special? If you need help finding a Migraine specialist, see Migraine and Headache Specialist Listings.


    Thank you for your question,
    David Watson, MD, and Teri Robert


    About Ask the Clinician:

    Dr. David Watson is a UCNS certified migraine and headache specialists and director of the Headache Center at West Virginia University. He and Lead Health Guide Teri Robert, team up to answer your questions about headaches and Migraines. You can read more about Dr. Watson or more about Teri Robert.


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    Please note: We cannot diagnose, suggest specific treatment, or handle emergencies via the Internet. Please do not ask us to diagnose; see your physician for diagnosis. For an overview of how we can help and questions we can and can't answer, please see Seeking Migraine and Headache Diagnoses and Medical Advice.


  • We hope you find this general medical and health information useful, but this Q & A is meant to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. For all personal medical and health matters, including decisions about diagnoses, medications and other treatment options, you should always consult your doctor. See full Disclaimer.

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    Last updated October 6, 2014.


Published On: October 06, 2014