Dealing With Continuous Migraines

Written by AnaLise on November 20, 2008 – 7:51 am -

If you have suffered from a migraine headache every once in a while, you know that they are debilitating, they are awful and you hold your breath during an episode, then breathe a sigh of relief when they are over.  Not only do migraines pretty much wipe us out for a few hours or days, they also leave us exhausted too many times.  It often takes days after the episode in order to get back to being yourself.

Now, think of how overwhelming it would be if – instead of having a migraine every once in a while – you had a migraine regularly, monthly, weekly or even daily.  Having suffered migraines myself for many years, often on a weekly basis, I am familiar with the pain and the after effects.  You barely get your equilibrium back again when the cycle starts all over.  It messes up your work, your family and your life.

There are some ways to deal with continuous migraines.  First of all, there are newer and more advanced medications that can stop migraines as their symptoms begin, stop migraines before they begin (by taking medication regularly), and stop migraines altogether.  There are different treatments for different people.  It’s not a “one size fits all” sort of treatment. 

If you suffer from regular headaches go to the doctor and get help.  Make sure you are keeping track of symptoms.  Are there visual problems that come with them?  Nausea?  Does your neck hurt?  What was happening at work or home before the migraine that might have brought it on?  Was it extreme stress?  What did you eat or drink before the headache?  Were you tired, lethargic, having a hard time concentrating?  All of these can be precursors to migraines.

The interesting fact is that over 25% of migraine sufferers get no real warning before they start.  Many migraine sufferers suffer in silence, sometimes for years.  When my migraines started – due to some serious health problems and hormone changes – there were not many choices of medications and both my family and the doctors – several of them – told me they were all in my head.  Only the emergency room – usually at the most inopportune time in the middle of the night – would take a look at my symptoms and feel sorry enough to use some sort of medication to knock me out for a while.

Things have changed.  There is help available.  Don’t suffer through migraine after migraine.  See a specialist.  Talk to your doctor.  Look for information on the web.  It can – and does – get better. 

Two good sites are www.migraines.org and www.fda.gov (click on migraines).


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Promise of a New Migraine Medicine

Written by AnaLise on November 14, 2008 – 7:18 am -

There is more research regarding migraine headaches now than ever before.  Studies have revealed possible links between migraines and a lower incidence of breast cancer.  Other studies have resulted in information regarding triggers that were heretofore unknown.  There have been definite connections discovered between migraines and stroke, migraines and brain issues, migraines and DNA plus genetics.

There are more medications available now including meds from triptans to seizure medications to other meds used for a number of ailments now being used to treat migraines.  Not every medication works for every person, as with any other illness.

There is now a new medication being tested that should be approved by the FDA sometime in 2009.  The medication, called telcagepant, is touted as a medication that will be tough on the debilitating symptoms of migraines.

Anyone who has ever had a migraine – or sat by helplessly as a family member or friend suffered from one – knows how painful, overwhelming and debilitating these headaches are.  Many sufferers have described these headaches as feeling like “rats inside their brain trying to chew their way out” or “hot knife or spike going through the middle or side of their brain” or “their eyeball being stabbed with a burning fire poker.”  None of these are  positive experiences, in fact, folks who have been stabbed, broken limbs, had serious back problems and other painful conditions including kidney stones, have reported that their migraine headaches were much more painful and they would deal with the pain from the other injuries any day rather than cope with a migraine.

Nonetheless, the good news is that research continues and more treatments are being discovered almost daily.  Hopefully telcagepant will become the medication that truly gets a lot of migraines under control, or just helps them disappear.


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Impact of Migraines on Families

Written by AnaLise on November 10, 2008 – 11:22 am -

We often address issues that migraine sufferers have tot deal with.  They are numerous and they are debilitating.  The pain, the nausea, the sight issues and more can be – and usually are – overwhelming. 

As someone who has suffered from migraines, I can tell you that in addition to the physical issues, there are other issues that can be so difficult to deal with, there is frustration, sometimes depression and often guilt.  We wonder what is wrong with us that doctors can’t figure out.  Are we going to have a stroke and die?  Is the pain ever going to stop?  What am I doing wrong?  What is my family thinking or feeling?  Helpless?  Scared?  Frustrated and Angry?

These are questions we ask ourselves.  However, the makers of Maxalt, a migraine medication, has jut received the results of a survey that gives the answers as to how migraines affect families.

61% of migraine sufferers who took the survey stated that they worry about their families because they cannot take care of their responsibilities during a migraine episode, and the families must take over.  In addition, migraine sufferers cite having to miss many activities including ball games, birthdays and other special activities because of a severe migraine.  They also talk about the fact that members of the family – especially spouses – often resent the issues brought on by migraines.  In fact, there have been many marriages torn apart, ending in divorce because of one or both spouses having difficulty dealing with migraines.

Another issue that came up a lot was the feeling of helplessness that family members have in watching their parent or sibling suffering and not being able to do anything to make them feel better.  Over 50% of migraine sufferers have stated that the migraines – especially over the long term – have led to depression and often to thoughts of suicide. 

Because so many people suffer from migraines and many of them suffer greatly and often, it is important for them to keep trying to find the treatment – and the doctor – that can help give relief.  In addition, if you suffer from migraines and they are causing emotional issues for you and your family, think about a support group or counseling in addition to other treatment.

For information visit www.migraines.org or www.migraineresearchfoundation.org.


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A Silver Lining for Migraines?

Written by AnaLise on November 10, 2008 – 11:20 am -

As anyone who has suffered even one debilitating migraine knows, these headaches can be horrible beyond description.  They have been described as everything from a hot sword going through one’s head, a vice at the back of the head, neck or eyeball that just keeps tightening, and various other descriptions of very painful experiences.  Just the descriptions alone can make most of us wince with pain at the thought of these headaches.

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel and even a silver lining regarding migraines.  The light at the end of the tunnel is that researchers are finding more ways to fight migraines, more triggers to focus on – to help people avoid them, thus eliminating these headaches – and more treatments for migraines.  Medication is better and more specific.  Gizmos and gadgets that actually work are being invented, including electromagnetic and other instruments that work on the nerves and the transmission overload that often causes migraines. 

The silver lining is one of those catch 22 situations, but it is still quite important.  Researchers think they have discovered a link between migraines and lower breast cancer.  They have recently estimated that women who suffer from migraines have about a 30% lower chance of getting breast cancer than those who do not have migraines.

Doctors and researchers attribute part of the connection between the lower incidence of breast cancer and high incidence of migraines to the fluctuation in hormones that can be involved in both issues.  The cancers that are being prevented are estrogen sensitive, so researchers are working hard to provide a link between the hormones, migraines and low breast cancer percentages.

Though his is the silver lining and excellent news, researchers are reminding us that these are very preliminary findings.  There will be more research to come.

 


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A New Fact About Migraines

Written by AnaLise on October 30, 2008 – 10:28 am -

I recently ran across some information that was a little surprising (but somehow made sense) regarding someone who suffered migraine headaches.  Sometimes, we find information that we don’t really expect.  In this particular case, the information shows how much migraine treatment and relief has changed and advanced.

It seems that the author of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, suffered from migraine headaches.  In fact, it is now thought that those migraines caused hallucinations, and all of this added up to the inspiration for the book that most of us have read ourselves and most of our children have read, too.

If you ever suffered from debilitating migraines, you can possibly imagine a man being tortured by severe headache pain along with the nausea, extreme sensitivity to light and the extreme sensitivity to noise. 

When people suffer from migraines, they are pretty much not up to doing anything. Their senses – especially sight, sound, smell and taste – are impaired during migraines, especially migraines with aura.  In addition to the other symptoms of migraine headaches, migraine aura can include seeing spots, feeling faint, seeing wavy lines and other symptoms.

Whether you believe that Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol or not, it is clear to most people that he was dealing with hallucinations.  If these hallucinations were brought on by migraine headaches, it is understandable how some of the situations described in the book came to be.

Those of us who have suffered migraines understand the feeling of falling down a hole – or wanting to – and other situations.  It is important, though, to make sure you seek medical attention for your migraines.  They can be connected to other serious health problems including stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and blindness.  If your doctor brushes you off or doesn’t take you seriously, find another doctor. 

Migraines can be fatal.  Make sure you do everything you can to treat them.


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Managing Migraine Headaches

Written by AnaLise on October 30, 2008 – 10:24 am -

There are over 30 million migraine sufferers in the United States and about 65% of these individuals are women.  Researchers have determined that migraines are genetic – so the majority of migraine sufferers inherit these debilitating headaches through heredity.

If your parents and/or grandparents had migraines there is nearly a 60% chance that you will have migraines. This does not mean that you are doomed to a life of migraines without help or relief.

Besides heredity, there are other causes of migraines, such as environment and serious head and neck injuries. Dr. Merle Diamond says, “A person with migraines has a more sensitive nervous system, which is extremely impacted by changes in hormones, lack of sleep, skipping meals, red wine, smoke, stress or other triggers.”   Dr. Diamond of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago also explains, “These triggers lead to changes in the brain, which turn on the brainstem, which dilates blood vessels and causes inflammation, which causes the pain.” 

Too many migraine sufferers try over-the-counter migraine medication only to find that they don’t usually help bring relief, they actually can make migraine headaches worse.  Some of the ingredients in over-the-counter medications are actually irritants when it comes to migraines.

This doesn’t mean that there is nothing to bring relief.  Unlike 20 years ago, these days there are many prescription medications that your doctor can prescribe specifically for migraine headaches.  There are other medication that can help an individual deal with stress and other issues that may be bringing on the headaches.

The most important thing a migraine sufferer can do is seek treatment through a doctor – especially one who specializes in this area.  Don’t be a hero and ignore your symptoms.  Not only could they get worse, they could also lead to a stroke.  In addition, migraines are connected to other cardiovascular issues.

Managing your migraines is not impossible.  It may take a little time to find the right treatment and/or meds, but once you and your doctor or chiropractor are able to determine a good plan to control your symptoms, the time you took to find a way to manage your migraines will be worth it.


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Can Chiropractors Help Migraines?

Written by AnaLise on October 30, 2008 – 10:20 am -

 

When most of us think of migraine headaches, we tend to think of how we can find relief and where we can find it.  We usually think of doctors, urgent care and even the emergency room for relief, depending upon how bad the headache is and whether the migraine starts at 2:00 in the afternoon or 2:00 in the morning.

For those of us who are used to going to a chiropractor for treatment, sometimes we think about going to see our chiropractor for help.  There are others who go to the chiropractor for other things but are unsure as to whether or not a chiropractor can bring relief for migraine headaches.

Many people feel that a good and experienced chiropractor can provide relief.  With millions of migraine sufferers trying to deal with triggers and other issues that cause their migraines. 

The upper part of your neck and cervical spine is located at the brain stem and is full of nerves that can send pain signals to anywhere in the head.  Many individuals that suffer from headaches –especially migraines – note that they very often experience pain that begins at the base of the brain and progresses up the neck and the back of the head and over to the front or side of the head, and if you’ve suffered a migraine, you know the rest.

There are many stories of individuals who combat migraines on a long-term basis.  They either experience them regularly every week or month or maybe a bit less often, or they experience a migraine that continues for days or even weeks or more.  Many of these individuals have sought out conservative chiropractic services and found relief.  Chiropractors can gently manipulate the bones, offer heat or cold treatments and massage, often eliminating migraine pain.

If you are suffering from migraines and have tried numerous remedies that have not worked, you can try a chiropractor and see if things work out well.  Many migraine sufferers have gone to a chiropractor as a last resort and found lasting relief.


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What Should I Ask About My Headaches?

Written by AnaLise on October 23, 2008 – 3:49 pm -

 

Some of us suffer from terrible headaches and have a million questions, but we don’t know if they are the right questions.  Often, we try to just muddle through.

Twenty years ago, there were few choices when battling migraines.  In fact, we weren’t sure what actual migraines were because there was little or no information available describing symptoms, triggers and treatment. 

Today, there is much more information available, and it is much easier to find.  There are organizations dedicated to research on migraines and other headaches.  There are physicians who are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of headaches, particularly migraines.  There is information on the internet, at the library, at many health centers, clinics, hospitals and health departments.  There are homeopathic treatments, relaxation, biofeedback and other holistic treatments, as well as traditional medical treatment and combinations of various treatments. 

So, with all of this information abounding and with places to go and ways to get diagnosis and treatment, what are the most important issues to address and what questions do you need to consider in advance and discuss with your doctor?  There are a number of simple, straightforward questions that can help with your headaches and help determine if they are truly migraines.

It is important to try to keep track of your headache triggers.  What were you doing prior to the headache coming on?  What did you eat or drink in the few hours previous?  Were you under stress or dealing with a problem?  It would be good to keep track of this information in a headache diary.  If you ask yourself these questions and answer them in your diary, the information will be helpful to your doctor. 

Another consideration is to determine if any medicine you take can cause migraines or make them worse?  For instance, birth control pills and other medications can be problematic.  Asking yourself and your doctor the question regarding medication is important – for all medicine, whether prescription or over the counter.  It is possible that a simple change of medication can bring relief.

Another question to ask is what kind of treatment might work.  Is there a possibility that hypnosis, biofeedback or over the counter medicine – including herbs, vitamins and minerals – could help ease or eliminate the migraines?  If not, are there prescription medications that can help me by preventing migraines or by at least stopping them once I feel them coming on?  What are the side-effects and how can I make them as minimal as possible? 

Do I need to make changes in my life, and will the migraines possibly disappear with time?

These simple questions will give you and your doctor good, specific information that could save you both time and frustration, and keep you feeling better and out of pain from migraine and other headaches.


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Heart Condition Causes High Percentage of Migraines

Written by AnaLise on October 16, 2008 – 4:00 pm -

As researchers have looked for more clues about the causes of migraine headaches, they have found much information that has moved treatment forward, helping thousands of sufferers of this debilitating condition to feel better.

There are also many medications, natural remedies and other treatments for migraines that have become tested and available, especially during the past few years.  Migraines are not a “one size fits all” situation.  Symptoms may be similar – or even the same – for many sufferers, but treatment of those symptoms varies from individual to individual.

The latest research about migraines has found that about 66% of migraine sufferers have a condition called PFO which is a hole in the heart or a right to left shunt.  What this means is that blood flow which would normally be filtered through the lungs actually bypasses them, most likely contributing significantly to migraine headache pain.

About 25% of the overall population has PFO’s, but not all of them are affected and not all of them have migraine headaches.  The research, performed by Dr. Stephen Silberstein at Jefferson Headache Center at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, shows, however, that though it has been thought that this link existed between PFO and migraines for some time now, but this definitive study gives a clear connection.

As a result of the study, Dr. Silberstein feels that the strong connection between PFO/RFL’s and chronic migraine is a definite possibility.  He has stated that if the next phase of study confirms this fact even further, there will be a straightforward way to help those individuals whose migraines are connected to this problem.  The fairly simple way to stop the chronic migraine pain would be to close PFO defects.

This may be a positive answer to the problems for more migraine sufferers who have been asking questions and seeking relief for too long.


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New Clues for Migraine Sufferers

Written by AnaLise on October 16, 2008 – 3:58 pm -

The common conception regarding migraine headaches is that people know their migraine is coming on during the aura – sometimes a few minutes or a few hours before the migraine itself actually hits.  Usually during the aura a person will have visual disturbances such as seeing flashes of light, seeing spots and other odd visual issues.  In addition during aura, a person will often feel nauseated and possibly light headed.  If medication or other remedies or relief steps are taken during the aura – especially as close to the beginning as possible – there is a higher possibility that the migraine will never fully develop and the symptoms will subside.

Researchers have now found that it is often possible to receive and recognize clues about migraines 24 to 36 hours in advance or more.  This period, called the prodome, includes symptoms including a warped sense of smell or taste.  Dr. Allen Bernstein, a neurologist in Northern California, says that it is “like a truck coming down the road.  If you hit the brakes fast enough, you can stop it.”

Bernstein’s research has shown that some people start to throw food out, feeling that it smells bad.  Others have gone on a cleaning binge thinking that everything smells like mold.  When tracking how long before the migraine this happened, it was usually within the 24 to 36 hour window before the migraine headache appeared. 

Dr. Bernstein has presented his findings to the American Headache Society and the International Neuropsychological Society.  He usually treats individuals whose migraines disrupt their lives to the degree that they have to miss work repeatedly, miss plane flights due to nausea and vomiting from the headache, and other serious migraine issues.  He says that the hardest thing in diagnosing and treating individuals is to help them look backward 24 to 36 hours and remember what was happening that could be a clue for the future migraines they might experience. 

Dr. Bernstein feels that though a lot of progress has been made in the treatment of migraines, the ability to help individuals see the onset of the migraine 24 hours in advance and use the medication or other remedy at that time will often eliminate the migraine altogether.  He says that his goal is to “teach people to be their own best observer.”


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Migraines Can Affect Anyone

Written by AnaLise on October 16, 2008 – 3:55 pm -

 

If you suffer from migraines, even on a day that’s not your worst; a migraine can be totally unbearable.  It’s not just the headache itself – that’s bad enough – it’s the plethora of symptoms that accompany a migraine and the debilitating extent to which they basically disable you.

The aura that comes with many people’s migraines involves visual disturbances such as flashes of light and spots before your eyes, nausea, lightheadedness and more.  Then, there’s the headache itself – usually more painful on one side of the head than the other – which causes a person the need to lie down in a dark, quiet room without disturbance for however long as necessary.

Those who have ever had migraines know exactly what we are talking about.  Those who have not had migraines – hopefully you will not experience them. 

Migraines can get to anyone.  If you are a schoolteacher or a roofer it doesn’t matter – migraines can keep you from being able to work.  No matter what your occupation is, it is impossible for most people with migraines to be able to work during a bad one.  If you think you can, imagine a migraine on a rooftop if you are a roofer.  Not a good recipe. 

Lately there have been stories in the news about celebrities and others who have had migraines interrupt their work.  Janet Jackson, who has suffered from headaches since she was a small child, has had to cancel several concerts on her current tour lately.  They couldn’t figure out what the problem was, but she kept getting symptoms of vertigo plus severe headaches.  I can’t imagine jumping around a stage, bright lights, dancing, singing, fans screaming with vertigo and a migraine.  The doctors determined that she has a rare form of migraines that cause the vertigo.  She is now undergoing treatment which is successful so far.

A pastor in Bellingham, Washington just had to quit his job after 11 years because his migraines were too overwhelming for him to adequately do his work.  Children – especially teens – are fighting symptoms of migraines which often keep them from doing their school work.  It used to be thought that kids don’t get migraines, but research has proven that this is not true.  Kids and teens do get migraines.

There are more treatments now than ever before.  If you suffer from migraines, talk to your doctor about treatment.  If you are not satisfied, get a referral to a neurologist who specializes in migraine treatment.  You do not have to suffer alone, and you may not have to suffer at all.


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Preventing or Relieving Migraines – Which?

Written by AnaLise on October 2, 2008 – 2:51 pm -

This is a question that is asked repeatedly by doctors, health professionals and migraine sufferers.  There are ways to help alleviate symptoms once a migraine is coming on or has started.  Most migraine sufferers can feel a migraine coming on.  They often have what is called migraine with aura, which includes symptoms such as seeing spots or stars, lightheadedness, flashing lights and even temporary blindness.

Migraines can be caused by a number of things including lack of sleep, overexposure to light, lack of food/hunger, hormone issues, stress and/or anxiety.  Sometimes these triggers can be eliminated and at other times the migraines remain. 

If the migraines are triggered by foods such as caffeine, chocolate, nuts or other substances, it is important to eliminate them, however, in some instances, such as eliminating caffeine, it should be eliminated gradually.  If you are used to drinking several cups of coffee or several cola sodas per day, eliminating them all at once could cause more headaches and more severe headaches.  Doing so a little at a time, for instance drinking one less caffeine drink per day for a week, then two less, for the next week, and so on, until you are no longer using caffeine is a better way to eliminate it as a trigger.

Taking medications can help control migraines once they have begun or when you feel them coming on.  There are various medications available that work well on migraines, depending on the person who is taking them.  Other treatment such as biofeedback, stress relaxation techniques and other therapies can also help.

On the other end of the spectrum, prevention of migraines is the other viable option.  This can be done especially when there are hormonal issues that create migraines when they fluctuate.  If migraines occur in conjunction with menstrual cycles, they usually diminish or disappear once the menstrual cycle ceases. 

As researchers are learning more about the genetics and biology of migraines, there will be more ways to help provide relief or prevent them altogether.  In addition, there are already medications available that can help prevent and control migraines. 

It is simply a choice that you and your doctor or health professional can make together when determining whether it will be possible to prevent your migraines – which will always be the best choice – or simply try to control them and relieve a migraine once you have one.


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Migraine Relief from Dental Device

Written by AnaLise on October 2, 2008 – 2:48 pm -

There are a number of causes for migraine headaches from food allergies to muscle and nerve problems and pressure to stress.  There are just as many ways to treat migraine headaches.  Some work well and some don’t.  It depends on the person.  Something that works well for one person might do absolutely nothing for another person and vice-versa.  Researchers and doctors are finding new ways to treat migraines on a regular basis.

There is another idea when it comes to the treatment and relief of migraines.  If you are familiar with a person who grinds their teeth – especially in their sleep – without realizing it, you are probably aware that they often get headaches.  When a person grinds their teeth regularly, they are putting pressure on the jaw, the muscles and the nerves in the area. This, in turn can cause the muscles and nerves in the back of the head and neck to tighten and pinch, causing severe headaches and migraine headaches.

Not all migraines are caused this way, but a large amount of them are.  Doctors don’t always realize that she should be looking at the jaw and the teeth to try and determine if they are involved in a person’s migraine headaches.  A dentist, on the other hand, is used to looking at teeth, gums and jaw to discern the root of problems.  Dentists have determined that individuals who have ground down their teeth, have lumps on the gums and have problems with their jaws often have migraine headaches.  The problem is that these individuals usually grind their teeth in their sleep and they grind them tightly, quite hard, and constantly – much more than individuals who just grind their teeth once in a while.  They don’t realize the connection between the grinding and the migraines.  In fact, even doctors don’t realize that this type of grinding puts tremendous stress on the muscles in the forehead, causing headaches.

One dentist has determined a good form of treatment to relieve both the grinding and the migraines.  The same type of apparatus that fits over the teeth called the NTI-tss dental device, created by Dr. James Boyd, can be used in the mouth to eliminate the grinding and relax the muscles, thus eliminating many of the migraines.  The device is usually only worn at night and once the muscles are trained to stop tightening, the person can use the device only when they have a migraine episode, or possibly not have to wear it at all.

If you think that this could be the cause of your headaches or somebody else’s, you can find more information at www.headacheprevention.com.


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Migraines Linked to Overweight Kids

Written by AnaLise on October 2, 2008 – 2:44 pm -

For years doctors and parents alike didn’t believe that kids got migraine headaches.  In fact, moms used to say that kids didn’t get headaches at all.  More recently, researchers have concluded that indeed, children do suffer from migraine headaches, and many of them are just as severe as the ones that adults suffer.

New studies have revealed that there is a connection between obesity and migraines in children.  The more obese the child is, the more frequent and more severe the migraines are.  Conversely, if the child loses weight, the migraines seem to occur less often and are not as severe. 

Studies were conducted at pediatric centers on nearly 1,000 children who were either overweight or borderline overweight.  They analyzed the children at the beginning of the study and then at 3 and 6 month intervals.  Doctors at The Cincinnati Children’s Headache Center found that as the children’s weight increased or decreased, so did the frequency and severity of their headaches.

Though a specific causal link cannot be definitely made between obesity and headaches, the association that physicians and researchers found soundly shows that there is a physiological or environmental process that are common to both conditions. 

Researchers and doctors who conducted the studies recommend that doctors who are treating children that experience frequent or severe headaches or both, should definitely consider their weight as a major factor in the situation.

This information could also help parents and educators as well, since many parents and educators are perplexed regarding the cause of these headaches and how to treat them and provide relief to children who are suffering from them.  If a child is taken to their doctor for headaches or migraines and the doctor doesn’t seem to consider weight as a factor, it is important for the parent to talk to the doctor about the subject and these findings.

Hopefully finding this link will help children avoid suffering from these debilitating headaches, lose some weight, get healthier and feel better.


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Migraines that Control Your Life

Written by AnaLise on September 25, 2008 – 6:42 am -

I talked to someone recently who described their headaches to me.  These were no ordinary headaches.  The headaches were so bad that everything hurt.  She told me that her face sometimes hurt so badly during those headaches that she wished she could pull her teeth out.  One at a time.

There are so many millions of people who suffer from migraine headaches that this has become a major epidemic.  Researchers are working constantly to find effective treatment for these migraines, and still some people suffer without end.
At least research has found some effective ways to manage the pain even though there is no cure for migraines. 

Part of the problem is that most people do not understand migraines.  The person who spoke to me about migraines said that she was frustrated about this fact.  If she could, she would have every person have at least one migraine headache in their lifetime.  This way they would be able to understand how debilitating these headaches are and not make light of them.

Many people get their first migraine before they even reach their teens.  Many doctors have said for a long time that children don’t get migraines.  Recent research has revealed that indeed, some children do have migraines, and often they are the beginning of a regular syndrome. 

In addition, quite often, individuals who suffer from migraine headaches have a genetic predisposition to them because their parent – usually their mother – had them as well. 

Once my friend found a medication or two that worked, she was able to resume her regular career and social life.  Sometimes she gets a bad migraine in the middle of the night and has to take medication to stop the pain and other symptoms. 

There are more options now than ever before when it comes to migraines. If you suffer from migraines there is help available.  Find a medical professional who specializes in pain control or migraines and can help.  You can also contact the National Migraine Association at www.migraines.org.


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Migraine Prevention That Causes Weight Loss

Written by AnaLise on September 25, 2008 – 6:40 am -

Migraine headaches are bad enough without some of the medication and treatment that people have to undergo.  Migraines are debilitating and often create pounding in the head, extreme nausea and sensitivity to light, among other symptoms. 

 

Too often, people who suffer from migraines become experiments for medical practitioners who are trying to figure out what medications might be the best.  Some medications used to treat migraine headaches include Depakote (also used for bi-polar disease), as well as tricyclic anti-depressants such as Elavil (amitriptyline) and Pamelor (nortriptyline). 

 

These medications often help people get their migraines under control, however, as with many medications, there are side effects.  One of the most difficult side-effects for people with migraines to deal with is weight gain.  So, in addition to the migraines themselves and the chance that the medication may or may not work, you have the opportunity to gain an average of 40 or maybe 50 pounds if you take some of these medications on a regular basis to control the migraines.

 

There is one saving grace however.  There is one medication that not only works well, but also will help you lose weight, rather than gain it.  The drug Topamax (topiramate), which is approved and used for epilepsy, can reduce the number of migraines a person has and also reduce their severity. 

 

Nearly 470 patients – mostly women – in Nashville, Tennessee, who suffered from chronic migraine headaches, were studied for over 6 months, saw their migraines drop from an average of 6 per month to an average of 3.5 migraines per month.  The women who took Topamax for their migraines lost about 3% to 4% of their body weight – one wonderful side effect of the medication for migraines. 

 

If you suffer from migraines and are still looking for medication that can help as well as possibly help you lose weight, ask about topiramate and see what happens.  


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Confusing Migraines for Other Problems

Written by AnaLise on September 25, 2008 – 6:37 am -

There are a lot of myths surrounding migraine headaches.  It used to be that doctors didn’t believe they were real – they were a figment of your imagination, especially if they were suffered by women.

There were also many ideas about what to do to help relieve the symptoms of these debilitating headaches.  There was ice, aspirin, and a few other ideas, including somehow trying to get some sleep.  Of course, usually the doctors that suggested these ideas probably never had a migraine headache themselves.

Some of the health issues that migraines are confused for are eye problems, for one.  Sometimes eye problems cause headaches, and often, the misdiagnosis results in the individual getting glasses only to find that the headaches continue.

There’s always the old “it’s just a sinus headache” answer.  People talk about sinus problems and allergies as the cause for the headaches, but even with the normal sinus remedies, the headaches still persist.

Hormones are also another easy thing to blame for migraines.  Sometimes they are part of the cause of headaches, however, when hormones are erroneously blamed for migraines, not only are the migraines not eliminated with hormone treatment, but, in addition, the hormone treatment can do harm – long lasting harm – to the body.

Additionally, the fact that a person is under stress is often singled out as the cause of a migraine.  Often, medication is prescribed and may take the edge off; however, usually the headaches do not stop.

As a result of all of the misconceptions migraines can often continue, increase in frequency and worsen over time.  Ignoring the debilitating headaches is not a good option.  If you find yourself at the point where your routine is disrupted on a regular basis or you can’t stand the pain any longer, it’s time to get help from a professional who is experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of migraine headaches.


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Regence Won’t Cover Botox for Migraine Relief

Written by AnaLise on September 18, 2008 – 5:47 pm -

For many migraine sufferers Botox is the last possible chance for relief.  When they have suffered migraine after migraine and tried treatment or medication of every type without finding relief for their debilitating symptoms, some migraine sufferers turn to Botox.

This is not a decision made lightly.  For one thing, there has to be approval by the insurance company along with proof that the person has tried just about everything else without success or relief.  For another thing, a Botox treatment is no small issue.  Treatment usually involves injections into several sites including the temples, neck, back of the head and shoulders.  This is not something a person decides to do on a whim, nor is it something that someone like me, who is terrified of needles, decides to do because they just don’t want to try whatever else is available. In my case, I’ll try anything before I have to take a shot, much less, multiple shots.

Now, Regence in Washington State is eliminating coverage for Botox starting October 1, leaving the individuals who have tried every treatment and taken every medication without relief, with no coverage for the one treatment and form of relief that they have been able to find.

True, Botox does not work for everyone.  But, not everyone wants to even try it.  Most people are very content to take some of the excellent migraine medications available to either control or prevent migraines.  The people who move on to Botox are usually patients who get no relief from available medications or who have such strong reactions to the medication that they have to try something else. 

Regence says that it is discontinuing coverage for Botox treatment of migraines because it is not clinically proven.  If you ask the people whose headaches are better because they are using Botox injections, they will tell you different.  In addition, more and more research points to one cause of migraines being muscles that spasm, creating pressure on nerves in the head.  Since Botox stops the spasms and paralyzes the muscles, the logic is that somewhere there is clinical proof that Botox can help migraine sufferers.

Currently, there are studies being completed at the Swedish Headache Center.  Researchers and doctors there say that Regence has acted prematurely in discontinuing Botox treatment for migraines.  They have stated that the results of their testing and studies – to be released shortly – will prove without a doubt that Botox can control or eliminate chronic migraines.  Also, Allergan, the manufacturer of Botox plans to petition the FDA for approval to use Botox to treat migraine headaches.

Regence has stated that if sufficient information becomes available, they will reconsider their position.


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Finally, Some Accurate Migraine Information

Written by AnaLise on September 18, 2008 – 5:43 pm -

Migraine sufferers get it.  Some doctors and health professionals get it, too.  And, there are some employers who get it.  They understand that migraine headaches are not just an excuse not to go to work, take care of business, clean the house, or do anything and everything else a migraine sufferer has to do.

Those of us who have suffered from migraines understand the meaning of pain.  In fact, some women have reported that their migraine headaches are worse than the pain of childbirth.  I can attest to the fact that this is true.  Natural childbirth without medication was uncomfortable but not unbearable.  Migraine headaches are overwhelming – even with pain medication and trips to the emergency room.

There is hope for migraine sufferers, and some of it is located within the pages of a newly released book entitled, “The Migraine Brain” by Carolyn Bernstein, M.D.  Dr. Bernstein is a top notch neurologist who has been on the Harvard Medical School faculty for seventeen years.  Her partner in research and writing, Elaine McArdle has helped compile the information included in “The Migraine Brain.”

Dr. Bernstein was studying to become a neurologist when she started experiencing migraines.  During the course of her migraine episodes, she began to turn her attention to causes and remedies and focus on these aspects while she was earning her doctorate.  Her findings from those days through her years as part of the Harvard Medical School faculty form the basis for the book.

In addition to writing the book, Dr. Bernstein has established the Women’s Headache Center at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  This is one of the first clinics of this type in the world.  It was designed by women who suffer from migraines and offers treatment through two staff neurologists, a psychiatrist, support groups and other services.

Since the first day that the clinic opened, Dr. Bernstein has been receiving calls and visits from people throughout the country and around the world in search of relief.

“The Migraine Brain” is a must for people who suffer from migraines – especially women.  The information presented in the book has been tried and tested by Dr. Bernstein over nearly two decades.  It brings accurate information and hope to individuals who suffer from migraines and to the professionals who treat them.

 


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Migraines Linked to Blood Clots

Written by AnaLise on September 18, 2008 – 5:40 pm -

We have finally gotten to the place in society where more doctors and health professionals are acknowledging the fact that migraines are truly debilitating headaches, and they are now trying to do something about those headaches.

For many years people were basically told to take two aspirin…Well, you know the rest.  It was little comfort to hear that you could go home and grin and bear it, but there was no real relief.

There is more research and more relief these days, and more information to help in the understanding of migraine headaches.  For example, one important finding is that migraines are often linked to stroke. 

This is important information, but until recently, there was no actual information about how and why they were linked to stroke.  Recent information points to the fact that many people with migraines develop atherosclerosis more often and much sooner than people who do not suffer from migraines, and atherosclerosis is a major factor in strokes.  This information is in the process of being confirmed.

There is information that sheds light on migraines, blood clots and stroke.  A study of the medical records of individuals who suffered from migraines revealed that their records showed they had increased vein-related blood clots, such as deep vein thrombosis, DVT, and pulmonary embolism.  The incidence of these blood clots for people who suffered from migraines was much higher than in those who did not suffer from migraines.  The information is still being re-confirmed, but it is an exciting finding that could shed new light on prevention and treatment of migraines for some migraineurs. 

Studies during the past few years have shown links between migraines and stroke, as well as various mutations and genetic factors.  The current study showing the link with vein-related blood clots could tie migraine and stroke together with a cause, helping physicians find relief for their patients with migraines and lower their possibility of stroke at the same time.


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Types of Migraines You Don’t Always Hear About

Written by AnaLise on September 10, 2008 – 8:01 am -

Most of us have heard about or experienced a migraine headache in our lifetime.  We know about the nausea, the pounding pain in the head, the sensitivity to light and many of the other symptoms that can occur.  We know about lying down in a quiet dark room and taking whatever medication – usually prescribed by our physician – that will help.

What most of us don’t know about and have not heard about are types of migraines that don’t have the usual migraine symptoms and are not easily identified or diagnosed.

One type of migraine is called an abdominal migraine.  These migraines affect both children and adults and, rather than having severe headache, the symptoms are severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and is caused by changes in the levels of histamine and serotonin in the body.  The symptoms are decreased or eliminated by some of the common migraine prevention medications.

Other migraines don’t involve headaches at all, but involve symptoms from temporary blindness to stomach pain to temporary paralysis.  Since there are no actual tests for these migraines, they are often misdiagnosed as a virus, mini-stroke, epilepsy or even appendicitis.  It can be dangerous to diagnose and treat these migraines, as the wrong medication could be harmful, if not, fatal.

Basilar migraines are migraines that have severe dizziness, vomiting, ringing in the ears, diarrhea, slurred speech and fainting.  At least three of these symptoms occur together in Basilar migraines.  The symptoms last for an hour or so and are following by terrible throbbing headaches on both sides of the head that can last up to 72 hours.  These can be confused for epilepsy, and the patient should see a neurologist for treatment.  There are various medications available.

Hemiplegic migraine involves temporary paralysis and pins and needles on one side of the body including the face, arms and legs. There can be slurred speech, confusion and vision problems, and all of this is followed by the actual headache.  These can be confused with stroke or mini-stroke and medications can help, but typical triptans which are used for migraines should usually not be used to treat these migraines.

Retinal migraines involve temporary blindness in one eye or seeing spots along with or followed by the migraine headache.  Doctors do not understand this condition, but feel it is often linked to over-exercise or over exertion and can be mistaken for blood clots in the eye.

Status migraines are the same as migraines but differ in the fact that they last at least 72 hours or can last for weeks.  These migraines are often due to some of the painkillers used or may be happening because the migraine medications being used are not working well.  Changing medication can eliminate or greatly reduce these headaches.  These headaches, however, can be serious enough to require hospitalization.

The information regarding and identifying different types of migraines is important for all of us to know.  It can help us avoid pain and could even save our life or the life of someone we know.  If you experience any of these symptoms make sure to discuss them with your doctor and if they cannot figure out what the problem is, let them know about what you have learned here.


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Under-Diagnosed Migraines Due to Stigma

Written by AnaLise on September 10, 2008 – 7:05 am -

Migraine headaches have been becoming more prevalent throughout the United States in the past few years.  In fact, it is estimated that about 30 million Americans suffer from migraines, and many of that number suffer from chronic or ongoing migraines.

This is a large number of people, and research shows that many of these migraine sufferers remain undiagnosed, under-diagnosed and untreated.  Less than half of the 30 million are diagnosed by a medical practitioner and as a result, their lives are impacted severely.

Without diagnosis and treatment for migraines, people are often debilitated with no relief.  If you have ever suffered a severe migraine or know someone who has, you know that the symptoms of severe nausea, extreme pain, blinding sensitivity to light and other symptoms make it impossible to function, much less work or participate in any activities of life, until the symptoms subside. 

This can take a few hours, a day or more.  Severe migraines do not usually respond to medications such as over the counter headache or migraine remedies.  Some migraines that are not too strong may respond well if migraine medication is taken immediately, however, for severe and ongoing migraines, prescription medication and/or other medical treatment is usually necessary. 

Unfortunately, there is often a stigma when it comes to migraines.  Migraines used to be called everything from “a woman’s complaint” to a reaction to stress that needs a little rest and relaxation.  Doctors did not take it seriously.  Some would prescribe pain medication, others would prescribe tranquilizers or muscle relaxers.  In some cases, these alleviated some of the pain.  In other cases, these did not help at all.

Many migraine sufferers have hesitated going through the same stigma and lack of care and concern again, and have suffered with the pain – many for years.  There is good news for them.  They no longer have to suffer.  There are any new medications available, and if one doesn’t work, there are others to choose from.  There are also various treatments and there are doctors and pain clinics that specialize in treating migraines and helping people on a long term basis. 

If you suffer from severe headaches – especially more than one or two per month, do not suffer in silence.  Find a pain or headache clinic or talk to your doctor and get some relief.  There is help available.  The stigma is no more.


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Migraine Help Through New Procedure

Written by AnaLise on September 10, 2008 – 6:21 am -

Though there are still many questions as to the causes of migraines, there are more answers regarding treatment than ever before.  There are more medications available and more of them have a variety of properties that do everything from relaxing people and acting as tranquilizers to other medications that directly work on the headaches themselves.

There are also treatments that range from acupuncture to surgery, and now there is a new medical procedure that is being studied in trials.  The procedure created by the St. Jude medical technology company and being tested at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Michigan has provided substantial relief to a handful of migraine sufferers.

The instrument used in the procedure is called a PFO Closure System Device.  The way it works is that doctors use the device to close a very small tunnel that sits between the left and right heart chambers.  This procedure had been used by two cardiologists at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital to help prevent strokes in some patients.  When people have small strokes, cardiologists state that part of the cause is that blood clots are bubbled from one side of the heart to the other without being filtered through the lungs before traveling to the brain.  Closing the tunnel through surgery would eliminate this and hopefully eliminate the possibilities of a large or massive stroke.

 The first patient to participate in the trial and undergo the procedure for migraines saw significant improvement immediately.  In a period of time during which she would have had about 30 debilitating migraines, the number of migraines she experienced was only 4.  Before the procedure, she would be so debilitated by the migraines that she worked for only as many hours as she could stand, then go home and knock herself out with medication to overcome the migraine.  She would get up the next day and repeat the procedure.  She does not have to do this any more.

Because of the trial procedure, the first patient in the trial says that she is enjoying life, doing well at work, and even getting a chance to relax because she is not worried about when the next migraine is coming and how bad it will be.

This is good news for migraine sufferers and for the medical professionals trying to help them.  It offers great hope for bringing relief in the near future.


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Can Ginger Help Ease Migraines?

Written by AnaLise on September 6, 2008 – 3:41 am -

It is not news to migraine sufferers that there are no real answers when it comes to causes and treatment for migraines.  Too often, when an individual suffers from migraines, especially chronic ones, there are few answers, and too often, there is no support from the person’s doctor.

It is unfortunate when doctors are at a loss as to what to do about migraines and your doctor basically throws up their hands in frustration.  Sure, there are more medications available these days that will alleviate the symptoms of migraines, but there are also many questions about those medications. 

Individuals who prefer natural treatment aren’t always comfortable with prescriptions, however, they sometimes try them when there is no other alternative.  There are worries about side effects and drug interactions.  Plus, not all treatments work for everyone, so it’ a case of hit or miss.

It is estimated that in the UK alone, there are nearly 200,000 migraine headaches suffered every single day.  Over 6 million people suffer from migraines in the UK on a regular basis. 

Research in conjunction with Migraine Action, the national migraine awareness organization in the UK have studied thousands of migraine sufferers and found that ginger has helped relieve symptoms in 63% of the people studied.  Ginger is natural and it has been used for many ailments.  Ginger – as in ginger ale – has been proven to help alleviate stomach problems including nausea and stomach pain from flu, food poisoning and other digestive issues.  Ginger is also said to help control blood pressure, diminish sinus problems and help alleviate headaches, so using it for migraines isn’t a stretch.  In fact, since nausea often accompanies migraines, even if ginger doesn’t stop the headache, it can help with the nausea.

With so many questions about migraines unanswered, and with so many individuals looking for relief from migraines, ginger could be a remedy to try.  After all, it just might help get rid of the pain and help your health at the same time.


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The Migraine Pain Center

Written by AnaLise on September 6, 2008 – 3:16 am -

Migraine headaches are caused by a combination of signals that interact between the brain, blood vessels and surrounding nerves.  It is not exactly clear what activates the signals, however, we know that the combination creates serious pain and other symptoms to migraine sufferers.

This is where the migraine “pain center” comes in.  The migraine pain center is like a generator toward the middle of the brain.  It is known that migraines begin when nerve cells send out messages for blood vessels in the brain to constrict and then pulsate.  This is a painful experience, as any migraine sufferer will tell you.

Treatments are available that can diminish or eliminate a particular headache or control the headaches long term.  Many of these treatments, whether in the form of medication, herbs, biofeedback or other relief, are aimed at the pain center.  If the nerve cells are calmed down and therefore, the blood vessels stop pulsating and this should lead to the headache ending.

There are treatments and medications available that will achieve this.  In addition, it is important for individuals who suffer migraines – especially on a regular or continuous basis – to track their triggers.  What did you have to eat or drink right before the headache began, or within the few hours before?  What were you doing?  What kind of a day did you have?  Were you under stress?  Were your sinuses bothering you?  Did you just drive for two hours in rush hour traffic?

All of these are important to keep track of so that you can do the very best thing to deal with migraines: find the cause for you and eliminate it.  After all, the pain center cannot be activated if there is no trigger.

Stop your migraines before they start and give your brain’s pain center a break.


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