Background: Symptoms referable to the sinus area are frequently reported during migraine attacks, but are not recognized in diagnostic criteria. Underrecognition of migraine may be partly attributed to a variable clinical presentation, and migraines with "sinus" symptoms contribute to this problem. This study was conducted to determine the prevalence of migraine-type headache (International Headache Society [IHS]-defined migraine without aura [IHS 1.1], migraine with aura [IHS 1.2], or migrainous disorder [IHS 1.7]) in patients with a history of self-described or physician-diagnosed "sinus" headache.
Methods: During a clinic visit, patients with a history of "sinus" headache, no previous diagnosis of migraine, and no evidence of infection were assigned an IHS headache diagnosis on the basis of headache histories and reported symptoms.
Results: A total of 2991 patients were screened. The majority (88%) of these patients with a history of self-described or physician-diagnosed "sinus" headache were diagnosed at the screening visit as fulfilling IHS migraine criteria (80% of patients) or migrainous criteria (8% of patients). The most common symptoms referable to the sinus area reported by patients at screening were sinus pressure (84%), sinus pain (82%), and nasal congestion (63%).
Conclusions: In this study, 88% of patients with a history of "sinus" headache were determined to have migraine-type headache. In patients with recurrent headaches without fever or purulent discharge, the presence of sinus-area symptoms may be part of the migraine process. Migraine should be included in the differential diagnosis of these patients.