Got an Asthma Headache?
If you experience frequent headaches and notice that your asthma symptoms usually appear along with your painful, throbbing head, you may wonder what the connection is. Some researchers do believe that headaches and asthma can be related-and if your asthma is allergic in nature, this can make the relationship even stronger.
Two Separate Conditions that Make you Sick
You may just take it for granted that your headaches and asthma go hand in hand. But while the timing of your worst headache symptoms and your respiratory distress seem to be coordinated, you probably don't have any idea what the connection is between these two seemingly unrelated ailments that both make you feel so sick.
The Facts about Asthma Headache
People with allergies are up to 10 times more likely to experience migraine headaches, according to information presented by the American Headache Society. Further, in a recent American Migraine Study, between almost half to close to two-thirds of all respondents who suffered from migraine headaches also said they had allergies as well. Other studies have found similar links with asthma. And having a parent who also experiences both asthma and migraines seems to greatly increase your risk for your own painful head.
When Sensitivity Exists
Oftentimes when you get an asthma headache, you'll find that the pain seems to be more than you can bear. This could mean that you are experiencing a migraine, which is a type of headache that can cause severe pain, sensitivity to light and noise, clear nasal discharge and sometimes even nausea. Some doctors explain that migraines can occur when the nervous system has an extreme sensitivity to the environment. The same reaction is true with asthma, only the reaction to something in the environment occurs in the airways instead.
Another possible connection is that with allergies and allergic asthma, the body releases histamine, a chemical which can cause changes that trigger migraines as well as make your airways narrow.
Finally, most researchers don't know for sure which comes first: the asthma or the headache. But one of the conditions may trigger the other to occur in people who are prone to both issues. Identifying the order in which they occur in your situation, can be helpful information to enable you to avoid situations that could set off your worst symptoms of both conditions.
How to Treat an Asthma Headache
If asthma headaches are a serious concern for you, what steps can you take? First, it is important to get a medical diagnosis for each condition. Once you can verify that you do suffer from both ailments, you can work with your doctor to figure out how to treat each problem with medication and also environment control strategies in an attempt to prevent symptoms. Most doctors agree that each condition needs to be treated separately for best results. But keeping one problem well managed just may make it easier to manage the other as well.
So with a little effort and planning, you may be able to head off your asthma headaches and keep your most uncomfortable symptoms well under control.
Sources: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) American Headache Society World Headache Association
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI)
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)
American Headache Society
World Headache Association
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.