Migraines and Riboflavin

Written by AnaLise on March 12, 2009 – 4:10 am -

If you are a migraine sufferer, there may be good news for you. Researchers have discovered that regular intake of Vitamin B2, ?which is also known as riboflavin, may help you have fewer migraines.

Riboflavin is a type of B vitamin. All B vitamins are water soluble. It is extremely important in converting carbohydrates into sugar. The eight B vitamins, which are also known as vitamin B complex, are necessary to metabolize fat and proteins. They help keep the muscles in good tone and are necessary for the overall health of the digestive and nervous system. They are also necessary for the skin, hair, mouth and liver to stay healthy..

If we have a deficiency in vitamin B or riboflavin, there can be harm to the body, some of it extreme.
There are some serious impacts if we do not get sufficient riboflavin. Headaches, fatigue, visual disturbances, digestive problems, cracks in the mouth, and sensitivity to light are just a few of the impacts.

Riboflavin is found in a sufficient quantity in many foods. Green leafy vegetables, liver, legumes, eggs, milk, cheese, dairy products and fortified cereals are some of the food items which contain riboflavin. The most common reason of riboflavin deficiency is insufficient amount of the vitamin in the diet. Though it is best to get as much riboflavin from food as a source if possible. If it is not possible to do this through diet, a combination of food and vitamin supplements, or even just vitamin supplements without much riboflavin-rich foods will at least help avoid the dficiency or at least make it less severe.

Riboflavin deficiency is a problem for many people of various ages. It is also an unusually severe problem for the elderly.

Riboflavin can be destroyed by light, so any food which contains riboflavin or riboflavin supplements should be kept away from bright light. Also, since riboflavin is a soluble vitamin, it’s benefits can be lost in water when foods are cooked. This can be counteracted by retaining the water which is used to boil vegetables and use the water in cooking other items. There are a number of fortified flours which have riboflavin added to them, as well, however they do not help the body to the extent that whole foods and vitamin supplements do..

If you choose to take supplements, take them with food, usually a meal, so that your body can absorb and use the supplements better. Check with your doctor regarding the level of riboflavin to take, especially if you are taking medications, since various medications can affect the riboflavin and the riboflavin can affect whether the medications and how the medications work. Some of the medications that can have negative interactions with riboflavin include:

Tricyclic antidepressants
Anti-malaria drugs
Various antipsychotic medications
Birth control pills
Doxorubicin (chemotherapy used for some cancers)
Probenecid (for gout)
Selegiline (for Parkinson’s disease)
‘Sulfa’ medications – certain antibiotics
Thiazide diuretics
If you are taking riboflavin there are possibilities of allergic reactions. One main side effect (which is not harmful) is that riboflavin may result in urine becoming an orange red color. Allergic reactions in some patients may take place. Avoid overdosing yourself with any supplement containing riboflavin. Ask your family physician or a nutritionist on proper advice.

Studies and testimonies from patients and doctors are showing that there are many people who have been suffering from Migraines who, since taking riboflavin daily, have eliminated most -if not all – of these terrible, painful and debilitating headaches.

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Migraines More Prevalent in Women than Men

Written by AnaLise on March 5, 2009 – 6:57 pm -

There is so much research going on regarding migraine headaches and there is progress being made regarding medication, treatment, prevention and more. The only problem is that there are still many people who suffer from migraines and have not found the cure or even treatment or relief.

The following is a story of one of the people who has not found the right treatment or cure yet. She is working with two doctors at the Wasser Pain Management Center. Here is her story, partially reprinted from the communications team at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

At times, Mary-Anne McDermott’s crippling migraine pain gets so bad that it invades almost all her senses. “I used to mostly suffer from light sensitivity. Now it’s light, sound, smell and I become very nauseous which on occasion leads to vomiting,” says McDermott, a patient of the Wasser Pain Management Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital. “I now have six to seven migraines a month, most lasting between three to five days.”

McDermott has suffered from migraine pain since elementary school. Now 30, she has endured a significant increase in the pain she experiences. After a recent visit to the emergency room following five straight days of pain, McDermott decided it was time to see a headache specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital.

The Wasser Pain Management Centre sees 800 to 1,000 new patients each year for everything from nerve pain to pelvic pain. Women make up about 70 per cent of its patients.

Migraine headaches, which affect approximately three times more women than men, can be devastating and lead to disability, dysfunction, missed work or even the loss of a job. Migraine is one of the most common types of pain and yet, physicians can only speculate why women are disproportionately affected.

“At present, we don’t know exactly why migraines are more prevalent in women than in men,” says Dr. Allan Gordon, Director of the Wasser Pain Management Centre and a specialist in the treatment and management of migraine pain. “A number of studies found that pre-pubescent males and females experience a similar rate of migraines, leading to the conclusion that hormones are a significant factor in the cause of the pain.”

During pregnancy, for example, hormonal changes can affect the frequency and severity of migraine headaches in women. About two-thirds of migraine sufferers endure the same level of pain or worse during their pregnancy, while one-third will experience decreased pain or none at all. Like the hormonal ups and downs however, these changes are temporary. For those with reduced pain, migraine symptoms almost always return after pregnancy.

Treatment options for women considering pregnancy are severely reduced. “Many of the pharmacological treatments available for migraines should not be used during pregnancy or for anyone contemplating pregnancy as they may affect fertility and the health of the fetus,” explains Dr. Gordon. “Men do not have to worry about fertility issues and the impact of medication during conception, pregnancy or breastfeeding.”

While women may face more obstacles than men in managing migraine pain, the Wasser Pain Management Centre offers a variety of pharmacological and alternative treatment options such as relaxation therapy, mindfulness and biofeedback. “In managing patients it’s important to address a person’s overall health,” Dr. Gordon says, highlighting the centre’s focus on mental, emotional and physical health.

Dr. Gordon started McDermott on new medication in January 2009 that has helped reduce the number of episodes. For now, this treatment is working well for McDermott and she finds encouragement in Dr. Gordon’s successes. “I’ve heard from many other patients that he is very good and I’m feeling hopeful about my situation,” she says.
Kalin Moon and Michael Power are members of the communications team at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

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Ginger A Possible Migraine Remedy

Written by AnaLise on January 16, 2009 – 6:20 pm -

Migraine sufferers know that it is hard to find real answers regarding causes and treatment for migraines.  When an individual suffers from migraines, especially chronic ones, there are few answers, and too often, it is difficult, if not impossible to get support from the person’s doctor.

When doctors are at a loss as to what to do about migraines and your doctor basically throws up their hands in frustration, it is difficult for both of you.  More and more medications have become available to offset migraines, but finding the right one can often take months, and there are questions regarding the safety of many of the medications.  Sometimes there are no medications that work well for a person at all, making the situation even more frustrating for all involved. 

Many individuals suffering with migraines prefer natural treatment but aren’t always able to find them, so they resort to prescription medication when there is no other alternative.  They are worried about side effects and drug interactions.  Plus, not all treatments work for everyone, so it becomes 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 has revealed the results of studying 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, ease 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. It couldn’t hurt.  After all, it just might help get rid of the pain and help your health at the same time.

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Migraines vs. Other Health Problems

Written by AnaLise on January 16, 2009 – 6:16 pm -

There can be a lot of confusion when it comes to migraine headaches.  In the past, many doctors didn’t believe they were real – they were considered to be a figment of your imagination, especially if they were suffered by women.

Migraines are also debilitating, and there have been a variety of treatments suggested to deal with them, especially in the past when medication was scarce.  There was ice, aspirin, lying in a dark, quiet room 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.

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

Many times a migraine sufferer hears that “it’s just a sinus headache” which can be partially true.  Clogged and aching sinuses can cause severe headaches.  People talk about sinus problems and allergies as the cause for the headaches, but even after using sinus remedies to clear the sinuses, the headaches often still persist, pointing to a different cause for the headaches.

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 long lasting harm to the body.

Quite often, if a person is under stress this is singled out as the cause of a migraine.  Medication is prescribed and may take the edge off; however, usually the headaches do not stop.

Because there are so many misconceptions migraines can often continue, increase in frequency and worsen over time.  It is important not to ignore these severe headaches because they can be a symptom of migraines or of other serious health issues including high blood pressure, possible aneurysm or a precursor to a stroke. 

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 call your doctor in order to get help from a professional who is experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of migraine headaches.

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Migraines Confused with Other Health Problems

Written by AnaLise on January 10, 2009 – 5:29 am -

There have always been many ideas about what migraines are and what to do to help relieve the symptoms of these debilitating headaches.  Everything from ice, aspirin, and a few other ideas, including somehow trying to get some sleep, have been touted as remedies.  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.

Often you are told that it’s just a sinus headache.  People talk about sinus problems and allergies as the cause for the headaches, but even with the normal sinus remedies, the headaches often persist.

Hormones are also another issue blamed for migraines.  Sometimes they truly 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.

Stress is often blamed as the cause of a migraine.  Often, medication is prescribed and may take the edge off; however, usually the headaches do not stop.

Because there are so many misconceptions, migraines can often continue, increase in frequency and worsen over time.  It is important to address debilitating headaches if you have them.  If 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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Headaches, Migraines and Treatment

Written by AnaLise on January 1, 2009 – 11:31 pm -


A migraine is a type of headache that is usually more severe and debilitating than a normal headache. Migraines are often accompanied by throbbing and/or pulsating pain, and have been described as feeling like a hot knife inside the head.  Other symptoms that accompany a migraine include sensitivity to light and sound plus nausea.

There are two types of migraines: one with aura beforehand and one without. An “aura” usually involves seeing flashes of light, zigzag lines in a person’s field of vision, blind spots or tingling in an arm or leg. These symptoms usually arrive before pain begins, giving the sufferer fair warning that it’s time to take their medication. The migraines that have no aura begin without warning and the pain gradually builds up.
There are various triggers to migraines.  Some involve food allergies, others can be hormonal issues. There are various treatments including medication taken on a regular basis, some when you feel the aura or pain beginning and others on a daily basis to prevent migraines from appearing at all.   Biofeedback, ice treatments, meditation, acupuncture and acupressure are also used for treatment.  The rule of thumb is that if you take over the counter medication and it stops your headache, it probably isn’t a migraine.

You can take over-the-counter, pain-relieving drugs once you experience the first signs or symptoms of a migraine. However, if you are taking over-the-counter medications for them more than eight times a month you should look into seeing your doctor about a prescription treatment. Another way to address migraines is to do an activity you find relaxing.  These could include lying down in a dark room or taking a hot bath or shower.  This might lessen the effects of a migraine.
Regardless of what type of remedy you choose for dealing with a migraine or other headache, if you are experiencing headaches on a regular basis – especially more than 8 per month – you should consult your doctor to find the best form of treatment for you.

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The Addictive Nature of OTC Migraine Medication

Written by AnaLise on January 1, 2009 – 11:28 pm -


As if those of us with migraines don’t have enough to deal with besides the debilitating pain and other symptoms of migraines, we are now being warned that some of the medication we take to try to combat those awful headaches is addictive and can make migraines worse, not better.

The problem is that many people who suffer from migraines may not realize they are migraines.  This could be because they have other health issues such as high blood pressure that could be the source of headaches or it could be because they think that their headaches could be due to stress, food or other culprits.

To a degree these may all be root causes of migraines, however, if a person is suffering from debilitating headaches, they should talk to their doctor.  Many people do not discuss their symptoms with their doctor because they are on medication for the other health issues and, as a result, they simply take over the counter medicines for their migraines.

There is a problem with that type of treatment.  These medications are not designed like the prescription medications for migraines, so they do not treat migraines – and stop them – the way that prescription meds do.  Also, the over-the-counter migraine medications often exacerbate migraines and create a situation where migraine sufferers are taking more of these medications more often leading to a vicious cycle of pain.

If you suffer from severe headaches and they are present in your life on a regular basis, it is important that you talk to your doctor and get help.  Have your doctor put you on a regimen of correct medication and also have your doctor help you determine what is causing the headaches.  It can often be as simple as a glass of wine or a handful of nuts that triggers the migraines.  Many patients find that once they have eliminated the triggers from their routine, the headaches either disappear or are much milder and appear much less often.

If you suffer from headaches, make sure not to just reach for the over the counter meds.  Talk to your doctor and determine a way to diminish, control or eliminate them in a safe and non-addictive way.

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Hormones and Migraines: Is There a Link?

Written by AnaLise on December 17, 2008 – 12:14 am -

Researchers have been looking for causes of migraine headaches for years, and they have found some solid causes.  They have also found that with the wide variety of migraine causes, they are all different and affect each migraine sufferer differently.  In addition, there seem to be more and more migraine causes discovered, and these are triggers for some migraine sufferers, yet don’t do a thing for others.  It seems to work like allergies – different people have different problems with different substances.

As for migraines, there is yet another trigger that is linked to them.  That trigger is hormones.  There has been ongoing discussion about whether or not hormones trigger migraine headaches, but there has been no true clear cut answer in the past. 

The latest information is that hormones are definitely linked to migraines in some women.  Usually the migraines occur just before, during or after ovulation or a woman’s monthly period.  The reason for this is that during those times there can be a drastic fluctuation in hormone levels. 

What can be done to help women who are dealing with this situation?  It’s bad enough just to have to deal with all these monthly issues without getting debilitating migraines in addition.  Researchers and physicians have an answer and an effective way to either eliminate or diminish these terrible headaches.  They suggest that migraine medication be prescribed to women so that the medication can be taken before the hormone fluctuations cause their migraines.

If you are a woman who is dealing with migraines that seem to be triggered by hormones on a regular basis, talk to your doctor and see if thre is medication that can bring you relief from at least the headaches that come with the rest of the monthly barrage of symptoms.

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Migraine Research Finds Some Answers

Written by AnaLise on December 13, 2008 – 7:29 pm -

Migraines have been around for a long time.  Not many years ago, doctors had very few remedies for a migraine sufferer, especially a chronic migraine sufferer.  They could recommend rest, decrease of stress and aspirin, Tylenol or Advil.  In addition, ice packs were recommended often.  The problem was that most of these treatments didn’t work – and don’t work – against tough, strong, painful, debilitating and/or chronic migraines.

Because of continuous research by leaders in the medical field, such as the Mayo Clinic, National Institutes of Health and The National Headache Foundation, there have been many new discoveries and medications developed and many new uses for existing medications, as well.

In addition, research found ways to help some migraine sufferers avoid a lot of medication and still ease the pain of migraines.  Research has also helped develop various treatments such as biofeedback, which often helps migraine sufferers ease the symptoms without medication or with less medication.  There has also been the development of a number of specific medications that were created for migraines, such as Cafergot, Topomax, Imitrex, Toridol, Midrin, Maxalt, Relpax, Zomig, Frova, Acular, Axert, Anaprox, Fioricet, Orudis, Amerge, Migranol and many others.   Research has yielded a vast amount of choices of medications recently, when less than 15 years ago there were only one or two medications available that were specifically for migraines.  Without continuous research about migraines, there could still only be a couple of medications available to migraine sufferers.

Some of the more recent or ongoing studies about migraines have included researching looking at synapses, neurons, the role of resting MRI’s in diagnosing chronic migraines, the effects of estrogen levels and menstruation on migraines and many other studies and forms of research. A great deal of research is concentrating on neuralogical issues that caon cause migraines, such as issues with misinformation in the brain.

With a tremendous amount of research continuing throughout the country at major universities, medical centers and other heath care institutions, as well as around the world in other countries, there is hope for migraine sufferers.  Today, there is hope in the form of choices of treatment and medications.  Tomorrow there could be answers about and elimination of the causes of migraines and the end of the excessive suffering from this debilitating form of headache.  Researchers have found some answers and by continuing their work, they are finding new answers on a regular basis.

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Kids Get Migraines Too

Written by AnaLise on December 13, 2008 – 6:56 pm -


It is only recently that experts have begun to agree that kids get headaches.  Sometimes they get really bad headaches, including migraines.  That’s not what physicians and researchers used to say, which kept many kids – and their families – needlessly suffering.

Most children get headaches now and then, and they don’t necessarily get horrible and disabling headaches but 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. 

Studies show that 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.

Many 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 or even the same as adult symptoms of migraines.  The causes of these headches 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 so bad and occur so often that the doctor prescribes ongoing medication for the child.  Instructions are 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. 

These headaches should be taken seriously.  They are not life-threatening, however, they are very uncomfortable, and now that there is more information and a variety of medications 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 and relief.

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Identifying Migraine Headaches

Written by AnaLise on December 1, 2008 – 12:42 pm -

Migraine headaches have been around for years, only they were not always recognized as such.  In the past, if a person – especially a woman – had a migraine headache, or a series of severe headaches, their family, friends and doctors did not take them too seriously, telling her that things were just not that bad and she had to relax, not worry so much or just get over it.  Sometimes, the doctor would prescribe tranquilizers to “calm her down”.  Either way, there wasn’t much help for women or men who had these debilitating, sickening and painful headaches.

Things have progressed tremendously, especially during the past few years.  Migraines have been identified as a severe pain on one or both sides of the head, mostly around the temples or behind one eye or ear.  In addition to this pain, migraines are also identified by their accompanying severe nausea and vomiting, as well as severe reaction to light and sound.  In other words, you wish you could lie in a cool dark room and not hear, see or smell anything. Many migraine sufferers say they wish that someone could knock them out until the pain subsides, which often takes from a couple of hours to a couple of days. 

Studies show that most migraines affect people between 15 and 55 years old, however, they often affect people outside those age limits.  They can also be hereditary, and are more common in women.  There are current studies regarding the causes of migraines in children and infants, as well.

Migraines can be triggered by blood flow issues, lack of food, allergies to specific foods, lack of sleep, stress during the menstrual cycle, general stress or anxiety, weather changes, chocolate, alcohol or nicotine, bright light or loud noise and/or food additives such as MSG or nitrates.

If you are having ongoing severe headaches, it is important to keep track of when they are happening – including date and time – and what you were doing within the hour or two that they began.  It is also critical to see your doctor and provide this information to him/her so an accurate diagnosis can be made and treatment prescribed. 

With more information regarding migraines, there are various treatments that your doctor can use to help alleviate this problem.  It is possible to fight migraines and no longer suffer in silence.

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New Treatments for Migraines

Written by AnaLise on November 20, 2008 – 8:21 am -


If you are reading this, you have probably had at least one migraine headache, and most likely many more and on a regular basis.  We know how overpowering and debilitating they are.  We also know that it is not always easy to find treatment or relief from these headaches.

There is now some good news about migraine treatment.  Alan Rapoport, a professor of neurology at U.C.L.A., who has studied headaches for the past 35 years, says that there are some “exciting” new drugs coming in the near future to deal with migraines. 

The cause of migraines is not clear.  There are various ideas regarding migraine causes as well as some of the effects.  One main thing that ties all of them together is that when a person has a migraine something called the trigeminal nerve system, which moves information from the face, head, brain and spinal cord to the brain stem – is triggered.  Researchers have determined that this happens in every migraine, no matter what the cause or trigger.

During a migraine the trigeminal nerve system releases CGRP, which is a peptide, and CGRP causes the blood vessels to enlarge and creates pain.  A lot of pain.  There is a medication being tested currently that would this process from happening.  The medication, called telcagepant and produced by Merck, is in the final stages of trials and Merck is looking for FDA approval to begin marketing the drug next year.  This is essential for migraine sufferers.  Over 55% of the people in trials who took the medication had near immediate relief, and another 23% had total relief within 2 hours. 

Triptans used to be the drugs touted to help eliminate migraines, however, because they constricted the blood vessels and could cause heart attack or stroke.  Telcagepant does not work the same way, and researchers feel that it is much safer. 

Botox is another option for some.  In addition, for migraines with aura, there are ways to stop the aura so that the migraine never happens, by using transcranial magnetic stimulation – which stops the overload of the electrical activity in the brain. 

Regardless of what can work for you, there are now more options and more kinds of options for migraine headache sufferers, including me.

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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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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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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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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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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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Find Relief by Identifying Your Triggers

Written by AnaLise on August 28, 2008 – 4:15 pm -

If you suffer from migraine headaches – even infrequently – you probably know how painful and overwhelming they can be.  They can ruin your whole day, or ruin a few days, not to mention, having you feel as though your head were in a vice or worse.  In addition to feeling like one’s head is in a vice, many migraine sufferers have described the pain accompanying a migraine as anything from a knife stabbing the brain, a hot fireplace poker, pressure like that of a trash compactor.

Migraines are seriously painful and debilitating.  They are often accompanied by other symptoms including nausea and sensitivity to light, and are not always able to be controlled or overcome without prescription medication of one type or another.

The good news for individuals who suffer from migraines is that there are numerous medications available that can help.  In addition, many of the medications work in different ways so that once the proper medication is found for you, it will address the triggers in the way that your body needs them to.

Migraine treatment has come a long way during the past two decades.  Where there used to be only one or two choices of medication and those medications either worked or they didn’t, there are choices that include medication and other methods of calming the symptoms of a migraine episode.

One important area that individuals who suffer migraines need to look at is what triggers them.  Researchers and health professionals urge individuals to try to avoid migraines rather than figure out a way to treat them and cope with them.

Some triggers include food and beverages, odors or reactions to other medications or medical conditions.  It is important for migraine sufferers to chart their migraine episodes to track what as happening leading up to the migraine.  For instance, if a migraine happens after a meal, write down how long it was after the meal before the onset of the migraine and write down everything you had to eat or drink.  Keep a diary of your migraines and chart every one you have.  You will likely begin to see foods or beverages that come up repetitively.  These are your likely triggers and by eliminating them, your migraines may be eliminated.

Another essential tool in determining the cause of migraines is to look at other factors that might be present.  Tracking non-food triggers is important.  Keep a diary of your migraines and be sure to include triggers such as stress, smoking and other factors.  Did you have an argument or a stressful day at work before a migraine?  Are you trying to quit smoking?  Did you just have a cigarette?  Are you supposed to wear glasses, but had not been wearing them?  Were you in front of the computer or television for a long period of time before the onset?

Some of these simple questions can afford you the relief you are searching for.  Some migraines can be controlled or avoided by determining their triggers.

If you suffer from migraines, keep a diary for a month or more and look for your personal triggers.  By controlling the triggers that cause your migraines, you may be able to eliminate these unwanted headaches altogether.

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Simple Steps to Combat Migraines

Written by AnaLise on August 21, 2008 – 6:46 pm -

It is estimated that 45 million people in the United States suffer from migraine headaches and most of them are looking for treatment that brings them relief.  Having suffered from a few of these headaches myself, I can remember being willing to endure almost any treatment and try almost any suggestion just to get the pain, nausea and other symptoms to stop.  I even found myself in the emergency room several times because the pain was so bad.

Over time, I learned that there are things that we can do to help manage migraines and some of them have to do with lifestyle.  Getting enough sleep, managing stress, getting some exercise and avoiding certain food triggers can go a long way toward relieving the severity, intensity and/or frequency of migraines.

Sleep is necessary to keep us functioning well.  According to the Better Sleep Council, 65% of Americans lose sleep due to stress, which also happens to be a trigger for migraines.  It is important to determine the best bedtime for you so that you can get 7 to 9 hours of sleep most nights, if not every night.  It is important to be as regular about this as possible so that your body develops a wake-sleep cycle that works and helps to avoid migraines and other health issues.

Controlling tension headaches before they become migraines is essential.  Usually, with a tension headache, the muscles in the neck, head and scalp tighten and feel like there is pressure around the head.  Because these headaches are usually brought on by stress, controlling stress levels is an important part of controlling headaches.  Deep breathing, removing yourself from the task at hand for 5 to 10 minutes if possible and learning how to deal with stressful situations in a positive way can help.  Talk to your healthcare provider about your individual situation if you have been under stress and are having trouble controlling it.

Getting exercise can also help control headaches because exercise makes the muscles more flexible.  As a result, they will not tighten as quickly or severely, which can eliminate this source of headaches.  In addition, exercise helps control other health issues that could contribute to migraines.  Exercising can lower blood pressure – a major culprit in migraines – and help keep the cardiovascular system working properly.

By incorporating these few steps into your life it can minimize the effect that migraines have.  It may still be necessary to take some medication, and you will still probably experience some of these debilitating headaches, but they should be fewer, further between and less painful.

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Migraine Relief Different for Each Person

Written by AnaLise on August 21, 2008 – 6:42 pm -

Anyone who has suffered from migraine headaches will tell you that they would try anything at least once to get rid of a migraine when it occurs.  Migraine headaches are often debilitating and the pain and other symptoms are overwhelming.

Major symptoms include nausea, sensitivity to noise and light plus severe pain on one side of the head or the other.  There are other symptoms as well, and they vary from individual to individual.

Because migraine headaches and their causes are unique to each person, so are the remedies.  In the past, there were one or two migraine medications available but most people had to come up with their own way to relieve the headaches, or they had to go to the doctor or the emergency room to get help and relief.

These days there are many more medications available.  Some work better than others, and this, too is an area that is unique to the individual.  It is similar to any other medical issue where medication is used – sometimes you and your doctor need to try a few medications before you find a good fit.

In addition to medication, there are a number of different methods of relief that have been reported to doctors.  Some of them have no sound medical basis, but people report that they have worked for them.  Some people have reported that exercise helped relieve their migraines, while others say that exercise simply made the nasty headaches worse.  Others report everything from music to herbal tea, acupuncture, acupressure and massage have stopped migraines.  Still others have reported that ice packs or heating pads have worked, as well as, finding that meditation, yoga, tai-chi, herbal supplements, aromatherapy, swimming, chiropractic care and physical therapy have successfully relieved their migraines. 

If you are suffering from migraines – especially recurring ones – see your doctor to determine if there are any specific physical or neurological causes.  There are probably medications that your doctor can prescribe depending on your unique situation.  If you are not comfortable taking medications, try some of the suggestions above and see if they help.  You never know where you can find relief from your migraines, and you might just be pleasantly surprised.

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More Information on Migraine Link to Serious Disease

Written by AnaLise on August 15, 2008 – 8:19 am -

There have been many reports of the link between migraine headaches and other health problems.  We can look at this information in a negative way or we can look at it as a warning and a way to take steps to deal with the issue.  As they say, forewarned is fore armed.

Studies have revealed that individuals who suffer from migraines are more susceptible to other serious diseases.  Of course, the main condition that migraine sufferers are susceptible to is stroke.  The risk of stroke in migraine sufferers is more than double that of individuals without migraines.  The risk in females is even higher. 

In fact, women who suffer from migraines about once per week are three times more likely to suffer a stroke than women who do not get migraines.  The study that determined these results included over 27,000 women over 45 years old, who were tracked for over 12 years.

There are many questions about migraines and their causes.  Experts agree that migraines are related to a malfunction of the blood vessels, neurotransmitters and nerves in the brain.  They are usually a long term health issue and can occur frequently, such as a few days per week or as infrequently as annually. 

Studies have shown that women are twice as likely to experience a migraine just before or during their menstrual period.  Pain killers and other migraine medication can help subdue migraines, however, there can be some nasty side effects, such as worse nausea and other effects.

Importantly, many migraine sufferers have low magnesium, so using magnesium can be helpful in eliminating or controlling them.  Taking a supplement  and eating dark green leafy vegetables, which are high in magnesium can be used to prevent or treat migraines.  Adding vitamin B12 can help as well.  Getting about 400 mg. per day of both might eliminate the migraines totally.  Another study showed that migraine sufferers who took feverfew (an herb) on a regular basis saw a substantial reduction in the number of migraines they experienced, as well as their severity.

None of these can necessarily cure migraines, but most of us who have suffered from them are happy to find relief when we can.  In addition, with the link between migraines and serious disease, such as stroke, finding ways to combat these headaches now can lead to long term health benefits.

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Electronic Help For Migraines

Written by AnaLise on July 17, 2008 – 7:07 pm -

Researchers at Ohio State University Medical Center have been looking at an electronic device called a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator (TMS) to stop migraines before they become full-blown. 

The TMS device work by interrupting a migraine and eliminating migraine pain and other symptoms if the device is used at the earliest stage of the migraine.  Many people who suffer from migraines describe having an “aura” before their migraine starts.  The aura which has been described as a sort of electrical storm in the brain causing the sufferer to see visions such as zigzags and shooting stars, flashes of light, spots, weakness or tingling in the body, usually signals the onset of a migraine.

The TMS, if used at the beginning of the aura has successfully prevented the migraine from progressing any further and has eliminated the symptoms already present.  The study at Ohio State involved 164 individuals.  39% of these individuals reported being symptom and pain free two hours after the TMS was used on them to treat migraine symptoms.

The TMS works by sending a magnetic impulse through a metal coil which then creates a very intense magnetic field.  When the magnetic pulse is held near the person’s head, the migraine aura is interrupted.  By using the TMS in this way, migraine headaches can be stopped before they really get going in many people, eliminating the need for medication in the situations where the TMS works well for the individual.

In the past, studies were conducted on a similar machine, however, it was large and difficult to handle.  The TMS is much more compact and user-friendly, and it can be used at home, at the office or in transit.  In addition, since there were no adverse reactions reported in the Ohio State Study, this brings hope that many migraine sufferers will be able to be treated without medication in the near future. 

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Foods to Avoid and Foods to Use for Migraines

Written by AnaLise on July 10, 2008 – 9:43 pm -

If you suffer from migraines like over 20 million other people in the U.S., you probably have heard many tales – some true and some not – about what foods to avoid so you don’t trigger migraines and possibly a few foods to keep close by in case you get a migraine.  It depends upon the individual, of course, but there can be properties in many foods that actually do create migraines or do help ease them.  No foods have actually been proven to do either, however, there are enough people who suffer from migraines that have talked about the same or similar foods that there may be a link, and it is probably worth it to try them.

According to Keri Glassman who appeared on The Early Show Tuesday, there are several migraine contributors or triggers, such as Tyramine, an amino acid found in aged cheese, wine, chocolate, smoked, pickled and cured meats, eggplant, avocado, raspberries and bananas, as well as some other fruits and vegetables. 

Another big group of contributors includes nitrites, food additives and MSG.  These are often found in Chinese Food, cheese powders, Campbell’s soup, potato chips, frozen meals and some salad dressings.  It is important to check ingredients in these to see if any of these additives are used.  MSG is also packaged under the name of Accent, which comes in a red and white salt-shaker shaped carton.

Other contributors include aspartame (artificial sweetener) which has been shown to make neurons fire spasmodically.  Another strong contributor is alcohol which affects different individuals in different ways. Some people have difficulties with red wine because of the sulfites in it, others cannot drink hard liquor such as tequila or gin without triggering a migraine.

As for migraine relievers, the possibilities are ginger, Omega 3s from fish or nuts, Vitamin B2/Riboflavin, Magnesium and Caffeine.  Migraine preventatives are said to be exercise, sleep, eating and not skipping meals and keeping a migraine diary that will help you determine what you did, ate or drank right before a migraine and see if there is a pattern you need to eliminate.

For those who do not wish to use medications or various treatments, it might be a good idea to give these things a try.  Though not proven, some people with migraine histories swear by these, and you might just find a natural remedy to decrease or eliminate your migraines, just as they have.

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Surgery for Migraines?

Written by AnaLise on July 10, 2008 – 9:12 pm -

There are numerous medications and other treatments that are being suggested and used to help migraine sufferers to control or end their migraines.  A lot of the medications available will stop a migraine within a few minutes if taken as the migraine is beginning.  There are other medications that can be taken regularly to keep the migraines away.  There are also treatments that include everything from aromatherapy and massage to ice packs and magnets.

The latest addition to the arsenal against migraines is surgery.  The surgery isn’t new – it has been in use to do facial plastic surgery for quite a while.  Recently, the surgery, which actually removes the corrugator muscle above the eyebrows, has been pioneered in the U.S.  It is felt that this will eliminate migraines in many sufferers because it eliminates the muscle, which interacts negatively with nerves in the area to create migraines.  This is a radical change from traditional migraine treatment and it is a drastic move to treat these debilitating headaches.

The surgery basically eliminates the trigger point of migraines.  By eliminating the muscle there is no longer a point at which the muscle can interact with the surrounding nerves creating extreme pain and pressure.  This will not work on all migraines; it is only designed for migraines that are triggered by the corrugator muscle and this particular group of nerves in the head.  It is necessary to have a screening to determine if a person’s migraines are triggered in this way and if they would be an appropriate candidate for the surgery.

Another essential point is that the surgery, though eliminating the trigger and the pain of migraines, does not eliminate the root cause of the person’s migraines.  This is important because, even if the symptoms and the pain are eliminated, the underlying cause could be a serious physical, biological or physiological issue that needs to be addressed and treated.  Migraines have been linked to many health issues including tumors, aneurism, high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke and more.  Whether or not you decide to explore the surgery you should work with your doctor to determine the actual cause of your migraines.

The fact that this surgery has been discovered may be a source of huge relief to many migraine sufferers.  It is critical to research the ramifications of surgery, as surgery is no small thing and should be avoided unless necessary.  If the cause can be determined and the symptoms can be relieved people with migraines will be able to enjoy day to day life without the pain that migraines bring.

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