Surprising Triggers for Headaches

Surprising Triggers for Headaches

 

Do you find yourself getting a headache, just popping an over-the-counter pain reliever and waiting for it to fade? Do you know why you get headaches? Here are some surprising headache triggers that you may want to know about:

Your Boss
That is, if your boss or work situation boosts your stress level. The nerves in your brain that relay pain may react more sensitively when you feel stressed.

Weather
Your chance of getting a migraine changes just as the weather does. A shift in weather to hotter days or colder can trigger headaches in some. Days that are hot, sunny and high in humidity are common triggers, as are rain, wind and barometric pressure changes.

Heavy Scents
Even if they’re pleasant scents–they can trigger migraines. Paint, perfume and flowers are common culprits.

Hair Accessories
A tight ponytail can lead to a headache by straining tissue on your scalp. In fact, anything that is tight on your head, including hats, can trigger a headache.

Exercise
If you’re engaging in strenuous exercise, including sex, you may end up with a headache, particularly if you are prone to migraines. It’s important to speak with your doctor if this happens, in order to rule out something more serious.

Bad Posture
Even if you’re sitting and not working up any type of sweat, slouching (at your desk, for example) can build pressure in your head and neck muscles, and trigger a headache.

Aged Cheese
This may be due to a substance called tyramine, which is found in higher amounts in aged foods. Examples of cheeses this includes are swiss, cheddar, parmesan and blue cheese.

Red Wine
Headaches may come on from alcohol due to flavonoids, tyramine and additional ingredients in certain alcoholic drinks, including red wine.

Cold Cuts
Processed meats, such as cold cuts, often contain tyramine and food additives, such as nitrates; this can bring on headaches for some.

Hunger
Make it a point not to skip meals. You may get a headache before you even realize you’re hungry. This is most likely caused by the fact that your blood sugar has dropped. Don’t try to fix this by eating something super sweet–your blood sugar will then skyrocket and dip even lower.

Smoking/Secondhand Smoke
Whether you’re the smoker or the one breathing in someone else’s smoke, nicotine causes blood vessels in your brain to narrow.

Caffeine
It’s still true–a moderate amount of caffeine can help treat headaches and it’s included in some medications for headaches, but too much caffeine can cause pain. Make sure to slowly cut down of caffeine because abruptly withdrawing can also cause headaches.

Hopefully you’re better prepared to identify some of your headache triggers. Make sure to visit a doctor for a new headache that lasts more than a couple of days and/or is unusually severe. Get immediate care if your headache is accompanied by vision changes, movement issues, confusion, stiff neck, fever, seizure or trouble talking.

 

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FDA Approves First Migraine Treatment for Teens

FDA Approves First Migraine Treatment for Teens

 

Do you have a teen who suffers from migraines? The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved the first migraine pain medication for those 12-17 years of age. The commercial name of the drug is Treximet. It is also the first approved combination prescription.

Treximet is really two different drugs together, sumatriptan and naproxen sodium. This is also the first drug to contain sumatriptan which is known to treat acute migraines in pediatric patients. The combination of drugs makes the release more controlled and sustained, providing more effective relief than either medication on its own. Treximent is put out by Pernix Therapeutics.

The company announced the drug’s approval in a press release on May 15. They said it is appropriate for acute migraine pain with or without an aura.  As many as 20% of teens suffer from migraines today, yet clinicians say until now pediatric migraine control treatment options have been lacking, particularly when compared to those for adults.

Migraines can adversely affect teens in many ways. It can negatively impact their schoolwork, social development and even their physical growth. This drug works by relaxing the blood vessels surrounding the basilar artery and those in the vicinity of the dura mater—a membrane surrounding the brain. One single tablet of Treximet 10/60 mg is recommended daily. Maximum dosage is considered 85/500 mg per day. For adults the recommended dosage is 85/500 mg per day. FDA approval means the drug is proven safe and effective. It also means it has an acceptable safety profile. Side effects include cardiovascular and gastrointestinal symptoms. Treximet may increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, ulcers, bleeding or perforation of the stomach and intestines may occur.

Neti Pots Linked to Serious Infections When Used Improperly

Neti Pots Linked to Serious Infections When Used Improperly

Sinus pain can be excruciating.

It seems as if whenever you end up with a cold, allergy flare-ups or a sinus infection, the first question you hear from a friend is, “Have you tried using a neti pot?”.  So many consider the neti pot the Holy Grail of nasal congestion relief.  Tiny teapot-like inventions that allow us to finally breathe through our noses?  What’s not to like?  Well, the FDA warns that if used improperly, the sufferer risks developing serious and even fatal infections.  It’s not the actual neti pot they’re warning about; rather, how it’s used.  Other nasal cleansing systems, such as bulb syringes and squeeze bottles have been linked to a higher infection risk.

Neti pots are used for nasal irrigation and have become wildly popular over the last decade or so.  One fills the neti pot with a saline solution and, after tilting their head back, pours the solution into one nostril so that it will come out of the other nostril.  Neti pots can be helpful when in proper use and cleaned well.  Users must save saline nasal rinse just for the purpose of the neti pot and avoid unsterilized liquids. Tap water should be avoided for the purpose of nasal irrigation.  Bacteria, protozoa and other microorganisms can stay in your sinuses and cause serious, potentially fatal infections.  Two people died after using water that had Naegleria fowleri (amoeba) in a neti pot.

When using a neti pot, it’s important to use water that is distilled or sterile.  If you must use tap water, make sure it’s boiled for five minutes and then cooled down.  Even when it’s stored in a clean and cool container, it’s only good to use within 24 hours.  Filtered water can be used when the filter has an absolute pore size of 1 micron maximum.

Knowing what types of water to use is very important as well as the method of neti pot operation.  The FDA says that some instructions for neti pots are contradictory.  Others don’t have any guidelines or instructions, such as those made by artists.  Nasal irrigation should clear out debris, pollen and dirt and not irritate the membranes in your nasal passage, as it’s a very delicate area to treat.  If you look at your neti pot instructions and they seem confusing, you should contact your doctor and ask for clear instructions in order to get safe and effective relief.

Headache Management Getting Worse, Study Suggests

Headache Management Getting Worse, Study Suggests

12 million Americans visit their healthcare provider complaining about headaches annually.

The lost in productivity alone is estimated to be $31 billion per year. But a new study finds that the number of office visits may be lessened if physicians conducted fewer tests and counsel patients more about lifestyle choices. Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston conducted the study. Investigators looked at 9,000 physician visits that took place between 1999 and 2010. They concluded that primary care doctors should spend time talking with patients about the potential causes of their headaches, and different ways to find relief.

Specialist referrals and advanced imaging are all par for the course today, increasing office visits and the bill. But for routine headaches, these extra services provide little value researchers say.

Extra assessments are necessary when a serious underlying issue may be at fault. But those cases are rare. Avoiding dietary triggers, stress reduction and counseling are all part of the guidelines suggested by the American Academy of Neurology for routine headaches.

Fellow in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at BIDMC John N. Mafi, MD, said that this study provided a snapshot of an overarching trend taking place in our healthcare system today. That is, “…over-hurried doctors seem to be spending less time connecting with their patients and more time ordering tests and treatments.”

Some say telehealth, where doctors and patients confer online via video conferencing software, should be part of the solution. The results showed that prescriptions of opioids and barbiturates were also over-prescribed. The use of other medications increased as well.

This was a nationally representative sample. The records analyzed came from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Hospital Medical Care Survey. The results of this study were published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The Link Between Physical Pain and Depression

The Link Between Physical Pain and Depression

We think of depression as psychological, but it can affect one’s body as well. For instance, some people fight insomnia because of depression. Others sleep for long bouts and fight just to get out of bed. Physical pain can be linked to depression too. Chest pains are common. These can indicate issues with the heart, stomach, or lungs.

Researchers have found a connection between depression and cardiovascular disease, as well as those who have suffered a heart attack. Those who are depressed are more likely to experience joint and muscle pain. Those who suffer chronic pain also have a higher likelihood of developing depression. Both pain and depression have the same neurotransmitter pathways in the brain. Those who suffer depression are three times more likely to be managing chronic pain.

If you’ve ever had a nervous stomach, you know how intricately linked the gut and the brain are. So those who suffer from depression are more likely to have stomach problems. Stomach aches, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea are all symptoms that may be experienced by the depressed.

Those struggling with depression often experience headaches.  In fact, migraine sufferers are five times more at risk for developing depression, one study found. It also uncovered that those experiencing major depression had a three times higher risk of also being migraine sufferers.

Depression can increase the likelihood of developing back pain. Those who have back pain have a greater chance of experiencing depression. According to WebMD, “People who are depressed may be four times more likely to get intense, disabling neck or back pain.”

If you believe you may be suffering from depression, see your doctor right away. There are many ways to deal with chronic pain and depression nowadays.

New Noninvasive Devices Help Migraine Pain

New Noninvasive Devices Help Migraine PainThe Food and Drug Administration has recently approved two prescription devices that can help alleviate migraine pain.

These noninvasive devices were specifically designed with those who don’t tolerate pain medications well, officials said. One is called the Cefaly and the other is the Cerena. Both are to be used right when a headache starts. Biomedical engineer with the FDA Michael Hoffmann wrote in a press release, “Patients have been looking for alternative migraine treatments.” Why is that, you ask side effects. “But these devices aren’t ingested or metabolized like drug therapies, they don’t necessarily have the same types of side effects.”

FDA neurologist Dr. Eric Bastings wrote in the press release, “There are many drugs to reduce migraine pain and symptoms. These drugs are quite effective, they are not for everyone. Some can make you tired, drowsy or dizzy. Some can affect your thinking. And some migraine drugs can cause birth defects; so pregnant women can’t use them.”

When a sufferer feels a migraine surfacing, he or she can use the Cerena Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator. The device is placed at the back of the head. The user presses the button and experiences a short magnetic pulse. According to the FDA, this pulse is sent to where the visual processing area of the brain lies. By doing so, a migraine is stopped in its tracks.

The other device, the Cefaly transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation device, also prevents migraines when they begin to come on. Here, a patch within a headband is placed on the forehead. The band is attached to a portable, battery powered base. The device releases an electrical current that travels directly to the nerve responsible for migraines. Hoffman wrote, “It’s a set-time therapy — running for 20 minutes and stopping automatically.”

Side effects for both of these devices include dizziness, sleepiness, discomfort, pain at the site of attachment, and skin irritation. These effects were minor and easily resolved, researchers noted. Safety was not evaluated for people with pacemakers, children, and pregnant women, noted the agency. Talk to your physician if you think one of these devices could be right for you.

 

Starting to Cope with Migraine Headaches

Starting to Cope with Migraine HeadachesA migraine can be debilitating.

But there are strategies that you can employ to help cope with migraines. Medications, reducing stress, and alternative therapies may all be helpful treatments to reduce the impact a migraine has on you. A physician will help you set up a treatment plan for your headaches. Do not take medications without first speaking with your doctor.

Most sufferers have triggers that will set off their migraines. If you don’t know what your triggers are keeping a journal can help isolate a pattern. Keeping a diary of your headaches including facts such as how long they last, the intensity, what you’ve eaten and more can enlighten you on your own condition. From there you can work around the things that set your headaches off. For instance, some people get migraines when they are unusually stressed. Relaxation techniques can then be used to counteract this. Other sufferers find that certain foods are triggers for them. They learn to avoid things like red wine or chocolates.

Remember that stress makes headaches far worse. Stop what you are doing, put your work aside and relax. Meditation, deep breathing, yoga and other relaxation techniques can be of tremendous benefit. Getting regular exercise helps many patients, as well as enough sleep too. Keeping a schedule helps the body stay balanced and fends off headaches and other health issues.

Seeking more information about migraines ? Look into organizations that can offer advice, resources and specialists in your area.

Understanding Migraines

Warning Signs of Migraines

Have you ever had an intense, throbbing headache, worse on one side of the head than the other?

The pain often radiates out from the forehead, eyes and temples. Other symptoms are vision problems, nausea and vomiting. If you experience these, whether you know it or not, you may be suffering from migraines. Those with migraines are often sensitive to sound, light or mild exercise.  These types of headaches can be severe, interfering with daily activities, putting sufferers out of commission for hours, even days. 10% of Americans suffer from migraines, including one in six women. But the problem is often misdiagnosed as a tension or sinus headache. Hormones, stress or certain foods can all be triggers.

A small but significant number, 20%, experience what is known as an aura before their headache is about to hit. Seeing dots, wavy lines, blind spots, blurry vision or flashing lights are examples of auras. Those who have these experience what are known as “classic migraines.”

Doctors still don’t know what causes migraines, exactly. They know chemicals in the central nervous system play the role, as do some nerves and blood vessels in the brain. There are those who get sudden mood changes before a migraine hits. They can become very irritable, depressed or excitable. Others notice a strange smell or taste as a precursor. 25% of migraine sufferers experience what are known as prodrome, or a sign that a headache is coming on. It can occur even 24 hours before a migraine strikes. Flashing lights, the constant sparkle coming off of snow, or a flickering fluorescent bulb can set a migraine off. If you are sensitive to light, and it is one of your triggers, wear polarizing sunglasses outside.

For your indoor environment, purchase spectrum fluorescent bulbs for your home and office. Some people are set off by stress or anxiety. Practice yoga, mindfulness, meditation, or breathing and relaxation techniques. Some people are set off by lack of sleep or food. Stick to a schedule of eating and sleeping every day to limit your number of migraines. Hormonal changes, particularly for women, can trigger a migraine. Talk to your gynecologist about going on the pill or other options that can help. There are those who find wine, MSG, cheese, processed meats, even soy sauce set them off.

Find out what your particular triggers are and you’ll learn to control your migraines.

Eyelid Surgery Could Decrease Migraine Pain

Eyelid Surgery Could Decrease Migraine Pain

Do you have migraines? Do you wish you had younger looking eyelids? What if I told you that you could have one procedure done to look better and decrease you migraine pain? 

One group of researchers is saying just that. During the procedure, known as blepharoplasty, trigger nerves in the upper eyelids are deactivated. The lid is also lifted, taking years off of your face. Another surgery used to lessen migraine pain comes from under the scalp to reach and deactivate nerves. These types of procedures fall under the category of trigger-site deactivation surgery.

Researchers at Louisiana State University believe that eyelid surgery was more effective in decreasing migraine severity. Yet, many pain management experts and neurologists believe that these surgeries haven’t been proven to help migraines. Dr. Oren Tessler, lead researcher on this study, and assistant professor of clinical surgery at LSU, says migraine improvement due to eyelid surgery is common. Tessler said, “Ninety percent of our patients had over 50 percent improvement in their migraines. After a year’s time, 51 percent had no migraines.”

Still, the divide remains. There isn’t even consensus that a nerve is the issue causing migraines.  Co-director of the headache and facial pain program at the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Vincent Martin said, “I think it’s conceivable, at least in principle, that a nerve could be trapped.”

But he isn’t convinced that a trapped nerve is causing migraines to begin with. Moreover he says, “There are weaknesses in the way the study was designed.” The LSU team failed to use a control group. Martin says, “There’s a huge ‘placebo effect’ from surgical procedures.”

Dr. Tessler admits that this was a small study, and more research is needed. The average cost of this surgery, which varies by region, is $3,000 plus anesthesia and facility costs. It takes about three hours to complete. You can make a case to get it covered by insurance. It wasn’t immediately clear that any of the LSU researchers had any financial interest in the outcome of their study’s findings. According to Martin, the technique is “theoretically plausible, but not proven. Most neurologists and headache doctors don’t think the evidence is sufficient to recommend this surgery at this time.”

Soothe Headaches with 3 Essential Oils

Soothe Headaches with 3 Essential OilsLots of people get headaches. Even more serious migraines are common! There are even those poor souls who need treatment daily to deal with their pain. Headaches, even migraines, can be soothed with easily found essential oils!

Lavender

Do you like the smell of lavender? Lavender oil is great to use as a topical treatment to help alleviate headache pain. You can also inhale it. Place two or three drops in two to three cups of boiling water. Then inhale. When applying lavender oil topically, there is no need to dilute it. Do not take it orally.

Peppermint

Another great essential oil is peppermint. Peppermint oil has been shown to help relieve tension headaches. Peppermint helps regulate blood flow within the body. Blood constriction can cause headaches and migraines. Promoting blood flow helps relax the area and relieve pain. Peppermint oil is also great for opening up the sinuses, if you have sinus headaches.

Basil

We know basil as an aromatic herb found in Italian cooking. It decorates pizzas and brightens up tomato sauce. But it also has headache relieving properties. Basil oil is a natural muscle relaxer. If you are experiencing a tension headache, basil oil is for you.

Other home remedies for headache include dietary changes, temple massage, the herb feverfew, and the grains buckwheat and flaxseed. Be sure to talk with your doctor about any natural remedies you are thinking of trying, and any herbs you are thinking about taking.