While "sinus" headache is a widely accepted clinical diagnosis, many medical specialists consider it to be an uncommon cause of recurrent headaches. Unnecessary diagnostic studies, surgical interventions, and medical treatments are often the result of the inappropriate diagnosis of sinus headache. Both the International Headache Society and the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery have attempted to characterize conditions leading to headaches of rhinogenic origin. However, they have done so from different perspectives and in isolation from the other specialty groups. An interdisciplinary ad hoc committee recently convened to discuss the role of sinus disease and the nose in the etiology of headache and to review recent epidemiologic studies suggesting that sinus headache (headache of rhinogenic origin) and migraine are frequently confused with one another. Clinical trial data are presented which clearly indicate that the majority of sinus headaches can actually be classified as migraines. This committee reviewed scientific evidence available from multiple disciplines and concludes that considerable research and clinical study are needed to further understand and explain the role of nasal pathology and autonomic activation in migraine and headaches of rhinogenic origin. However, there was a consensus from this group that greater diagnostic and therapeutic attention needs to be given to patients complaining of sinus headache that may indeed be due to the nose.
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