Written by Karah Frizzell

Ask Dr. Armstrong: Why would an ENT specialist treat migraine headaches?

It might seem unusual for an ENT specialist to treat migraine headaches. However, there are several reasons why the specialists at Richmond ENT routinely evaluate and treat migraine headaches:

1. Sinusitis and Migraine Overlap: Many symptoms of sinusitis, such as facial pain, nasal congestion, and a runny nose, can mimic migraine symptoms. In fact, what some people believe to be recurrent sinus infections actually are migraines. As ENT specialists, we can evaluate and differentiate between the two, ensuring the patient receives the appropriate treatment.

2. Contact Point Headaches: This is a controversial topic in our field, but sometimes contact points within the nasal cavity, like a deviated septum touching the turbinates, can trigger headaches. This would be surgically correctable.

3. Ear-related Symptoms: Migraine can sometimes manifest with symptoms related to the ears, such as tinnitus (ringing in the ears), sensitivity to sound (phonophobia), or even vertigo (a type of dizziness). As ENT specialists, we can evaluate these symptoms to rule out other causes.

4. Triggers in the Nasal Passage: Irritants or allergens in the nasal passages can trigger migraines in some individuals. We can test for allergies that might contribute to migraines.

5. Comprehensive Care: Since we often diagnose migraine, we have extensive experience treating it. Our team stays educated regarding the newest medical treatments and has over 30 years’ experience with Botox injections. When necessary, we collaborate with primary care providers, neurologists, pain specialists, and other professionals to provide comprehensive care.

6. Research and Experience: Dr. Armstrong has performed over 40 clinical trials for diverse ENT problems including migraines, sinusitis, and other nasal issues.

If a patient is referred to an ENT for migraines, it’s essential to communicate all symptoms clearly and to ask questions about the proposed treatment approach. It’s always a good idea to have a comprehensive evaluation and, if necessary, to seek a second opinion to ensure the appropriate management of migraines.