Facts You Should Know About Headaches

Written by AnaLise on October 9, 2008 – 3:23 pm -

If you suffer from chronic headaches or migraines there is help available.  The first line of defense should be your doctor.  If your doctor is unable to diagnose and treat your headaches successfully, there are doctors who specialize in the treatment of headaches especially migraines.

In addition to going to the doctors, there is other support available.  One organization that dispenses information and advocates for funding for headache research is the Alliance For Headache Disorder Advocacy (AHDA).    Most recently they have been strongly encouraging the National Institutes of Health to fund more studies as to the causes and treatment for migraines and other severe headaches.  Nearly 80% of all districts in the United States have at least one advocate receiving and sharing information with AHDA.

Some information from the AHDA website that they feel is important for you to know includes these points:

• Headache disorders cause more than 1 percent of all disability and 9 percent of all lost labor in the US every year.
• Migraine alone is the 12th most disabling disorder in the US.
• Headache disorders are the most prevalent neurological disorders, affecting more than 90% of all Americans.
• The US annual direct and indirect economic costs of headache disorders exceed $31 billion.
• The NIH expended less than $10 million in 2006 towards all research on headache disorders, comprising less than 0.05 percent of its total budget.
There are other important facts about headaches, but these are striking, since migraines have been a debilitating disorder for decades and have become extremely widespread.  In addition, migraines are often linked to other disorders and diseases including aneurism, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and reactions to food, drinks and other substances, including medication.  They can also be signs of further disease and if untreated have been fatal in some cases.
If you suffer from migraines, find help and support.  If you need further information contact the AHDA at www.allianceforheadacheadvocacy.org.

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Migraines and the Military

Written by AnaLise on August 21, 2008 – 6:38 pm -

Nearly 8% of all men and 12% of all women in the United States suffer from migraine headaches.  Most migraine sufferers have gone to the doctor and gotten some sort of medication – usually triptans – to subdue these headaches.
Some migraine sufferers use natural or holistic methods to control migraines, and others use a combination of medication and other methods to keep their migraines to a minimum.

Individuals in the military are no exception.  They get migraines right along with the rest of the nation and they need ways to deal with these debilitating headaches.  Unfortunately, they don’t seem to get as much help as the general public when it comes to relieving migraine symptoms.

Recently results of a retroactive study were released involving soldiers returning from Iraq.  The study focused on soldiers with migraines and the treatment that was afforded them.  The results were somewhat surprising and disappointing.

Over 2700 soldiers were screened.  19% (518) had migraine headaches during their tour of duty.  Another 17.5% (476) met the criteria for probable migraines.  This combines to show over 36% of the troops in the study suffered from migraines, which is a number 3 times the amount of the general population.

There are many obvious reasons for this number, though the percentage was not expected to be nearly that high.  Lack of proper, comfortable, uninterrupted sleep is one reason for the higher percentage.  Sleep problems are a huge trigger for migraines, and these are built into a combat soldier’s life.  In addition, extreme heat, chemical fumes, dehydration, pressures in aircraft, and disruptive meal patterns were cited.  The heat in their uniforms alone was also considered a trigger.

These triggers are not surprises.  What was a surprise to researchers was that these migraine headaches were not controlled by triptans, which are the most common medications to prevent and treat migraines.  Of all organizations, the military has access to any medications it needs, and to leave individuals suffering with little or no relief when relief is easily available is not only unfair and unkind, but negligent.   Triptans not only treat migraines by stopping them at the first sign of the headaches, but also by being used on a regular basis to avoid and eliminate migraines.  This means that many of the soldiers who experienced migraines in Iraq (or other places) could have avoided the suffering from a migraine or from migraines that they were having regularly by taking the medication to prevent them.

The United States expects a great deal of its military men and women, especially right now with troops in the Middle East and elsewhere.  It is not unreasonable to expect that the country should take care of the individuals who are called to serve by simply providing them with the medical care that they need. 

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Kids and Migraines

Written by AnaLise on July 31, 2008 – 7:35 pm -

It used to be said that kids don’t get headaches, much less, migraines.  That’s not what physicians and researchers say any more.

Most children get headaches and many of them have gotten some pretty intense migraines.  Migraine headaches are usually a pounding type of headache on one side of the head or the other of the temple or behind the eye. 

Up to 5% of school aged children get migraine headaches.  The percentages increase as children get older, topping at 20% for high school aged children and adolescents.  Girls suffer from migraines more often than boys do, often having them two or more times per week.

Some children say that their migraines make them feel like throwing up.  Others say that they feel like their heart is pounding in their chest when they have a migraine, or they feel like they are in a huge bass drum when a migraine hits.  They also report feeling like they need to lie down in a dark room.

These symptoms are very similar – and some of them are the same – as adult symptoms of migraines.  The causes are the same, too.  Smells, foods, stress, being too tired and eating certain foods can all be triggers to migraines.  The foods and smells vary depending on the child but additives, such as MSG, smoked or processed meats with nitrites, nuts and pickles can be triggers.

Some children get migraines that are bad enough, often enough so that the doctor prescribes medication for the child.  Instructions will be given as to what to do if a migraine comes on, and how to handle the situation.  As with adults, lying in a dark, quiet room can help.  Using an ice pack can also help. 

If you have a child or adolescent that suffers from frequent headaches – especially migraines – take them to see their doctor.  The doctor will perform tests and do a thorough examination and will probably prescribe medication to help tame the migraines when they come on. 

Take these headaches seriously.  They are not life-threatening, however, they are very uncomfortable, and now that there is more information and a variety of medication available to deal with them, there is no reason for children to suffer with migraines the way they did before research provided us with answers


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Research, Treatment and Therapy for Migraine Headaches

Written by AnaLise on July 8, 2008 – 8:13 am -

For years there have been all sorts of ideas about what causes migraine headaches, what are the individual triggers, how to diagnose migraines and what can be done to provide treatment or therapy for migraines.

There a new medications coming to the marketplace on a regular basis.  Relief that once took hours or days can now be available in a matter of a few minutes, depending upon which medication is prescribed and which one is the right one for you.

Research is still continuing to find more causes for medications for migraines and more treatments for migraines, as well.  One of the latest studies has been looking at clues to the biological causes of migraine headaches that 15 to 20% of people worldwide are suffering.

The studies which have been done by medical scientists, focus on a rare, inherited form of migraines determined that there are genetic mutations that are connected to familial migraines.  These rare, inherited familial migraines alter the way sodium channels work in the brain.  Sodium funnels and flows though membranes in the brain cells that are part of the conduction of electrical currents in nerve impulses.

The studies, being conducted at Vanderbilt University Medical Center have found various specific cellular events that may cause or trigger migraines.  These events are even more specific to the aura that precedes migraines when people see spots and flashes of light and other abnormal sights and feelings prior to a migraine headache that signals that a migraine has been triggered and is about to take place.

The studies have suggested that it is important to look at medications that focus on and target sodium channels to treat some types of migraines.  Since there are various triggers for migraine headaches, it is logical and important that researchers continue trying to find various treatments.  Depending on the results that the studies at Vanderbilt yield, the results could help a great number of people get relief from this most debilitating of medical issues.

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