Living With Migraines

Don’t let migraines get in the way of daily living

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Migraines – accept or fight bak

Posted by healthwyse on February 13, 2008

Migraine and Migraine Headahaches can be debilitating with symtpoms including headache, nausea, dizziness and visual phenomenon.The problem is that many people sufferring from migraines just accept them as a part of life. Others choose to fight back and take a proactive approach to migraine management.

 One of the most effective means of managing migraines is recognising your triggers. Neurologist David Buchholz of Johns Hopkins University takes his headache patients off the drugs, telling people to use the power they have in their own hands to control their headaches.

Caffeine, MSG and chocolate are commonly recogned as migraine triggers. But Buchholz’ list includes many more food products.

“Suppose there are 100 things that trigger headaches. And somebody tells you to avoid two or three of them, but you eat the other 97. You’re still going to get a headache,” says Sees.

Often food triggers don’t cause headaches immediately. The effects can be delayed for up to 2 days whoich can make it very difficult to identify the trigger in question.

One of the suggestions he makes is to avoid fresh produce containing tyramine. It’s a natural food-chemical linked to headaches. Buchholz recommends replacing onions with shallots and leeks.

Tyramine is found in a lot of healthy foods, including bananas, citrus, nuts and cheeses. Aged cheeses contain the most.

Avoding food is only start and probably won’t eliminate all of your headaches. There are a lot of triggers that people can’t control but food makes a great place to start.


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Are Migraines affecting your quality of Life?

Posted by healthwyse on February 10, 2008

THE Headache Clinic’s Quality of Life questionnaire measures the extent to which headaches affect your ability to function. If you answer yes to most of the questions, you are advised to see a health professional. Here are a few of the many questions on the list:

  • Have headaches often interfered with how well you dealt with your family, friends, and others who are close to you?
  • Have headaches often interfered with your leisure-time activities, such as reading and exercising?
  • Have you often had difficulty performing work or daily activities because of headache?
  • Do the headaches often keep you from getting as much done at work or at home?Did the headaches often limit your ability to concentrate on work or daily activities?
  • Have headaches often left you too tired to do work or daily activities?
  • Have headaches often limited the number of days you have felt energetic?
  • Have you often had to cancel work or daily activities because you had a headache?
  • Did you often need help in handling routine tasks such as everyday household chores, doing necessary business, shopping, or caring for others, when you had a headache?
  • Have you often had to stop work or daily activities to deal with headache symptoms?
  • Were you often not able to go to social activities such as parties, dinner with friends, because you had a headache?
  • Have you often felt fed up or frustrated because of your headaches?
  • Have you often felt like you were a burden on others because of your headaches?
  • Have you often been afraid of letting others down because of your headaches? For an assessment, visit
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    Minor Surgery cures Migraines

    Posted by healthwyse on February 10, 2008

    A new surgery developed in South Africa promises permanent pain relief from headahces and dramatically improves quality of life.

    But only 1% or 2% of people who experience chronic daily headaches — typically migraines or tension headaches — require or qualify for the minor operation.

    The study was led by Dr Elliot Shevel, director of the Headache Clinic and chairman of the SA Headache Society.

    Phyllis Berger, author of the book The Journey to Pain Relief, says headaches are the second-most- common complaint at her Johannesburg pain management clinic, after back pain.

    “Those who respond to surgery are very lucky but some patients don’t respond,” she says.

    Bad posture is a source of headaches for many, and teeth grinding is also a problem, Berger says. Tension is another source and injuries from car accidents also give rise to headaches, even two to three years later.

    “Most patients do respond to improved posture, doing exercise and treating inflammation and spasm of the neck muscles,” she says. “But often patients take so much medication that they get withdrawal headaches.”

    “When we do it the results are life-changing. But we only offer people surgery if they can’t be helped by more conventional means,” he says.

    Now the South African and Italian governments have agreed to fund further research on migraine surgery by Shevel and his Italian collaborator, Professor Carlo Cianchetti.

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    Hands on relief for migraine

    Posted by healthwyse on February 8, 2008

    The symptoms may vary, but the pain associated with a migraine is always unpleasant. Most people have there own coping strategies but there’s additional help that’s within arms reach.

    Studies have shown that massage therapy can relieve or prevent pain connected with migraines, though it doesn’t replace the need for medication and help from a doctor, experts say.

    Migraines can be reduced in frequency by regular massage sessions, which decrease anxiety, heart rate and amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, according to the International Journal of Neuroscience.

    Headache expert and neurologist Dr. Audrey L. Halpern of Rye, N.Y., says massage should be concentrated around the upper neck and shoulder regions.

    The neck is important because it is connected to the trigeminal nucleus caudalis, a group of neurons centered in the brain stem that extend into the upper cervical spinal cord, i.e. the upper neck. Communication between these neurons and other neurons in the neck that mediate control of the neck, may be the underlying reason that migraines can cause neck pain and that neck pain can prompt migraines.

     So next time you feel those familiar warning symptoms, ask someone you know for a neck and shoulder massage. But don’t overdo it or they’ll probably wonder why you’ve had an increase in migraine recently ;p

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    Migraines and Insects

    Posted by healthwyse on February 8, 2008

    A Queens Biology Professor says that the way locusts react to stress may provide an important clue to understanding what causes human migraines – and how to reduce their painful effects.

    Dr Robins is studying insects and examinig how they cope with stress. They discovered that the locusts reaction to stress is very similar to what is associated with migraines and stroke in humans.

    As a way of temporarily shutting down and conserving energy when conditions are dangerous, the locust’s coma has many of the same characteristics seen in people at the onset of a migraine. “We feel there may be an evolutionary link between the two,” Dr. Robertson suggests.

    While migraine has been associated with this disturbance for some time, they still don’t really understand how it works. And that understanding will be key to designing new migraine treatments.

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    Migraines without a headache??

    Posted by healthwyse on February 7, 2008

    Most migraine sufferers just want the aching to go away, but Baylor College of Medicine ophthalmologists say even “painless” migraines can still pack a punch.An estimated 20 percent of migraine sufferers experience migraine without a headache. These type os Migraines are usuaally accompanied by visual disturbances.

    “People are usually surprised they can be diagnosed with migraines without ever having a headache,” said Dr. Rod Foroozan, assistant professor of ophthalmology at BCM. “Most people are used to understanding a migraine to mean pain.”

     Symptom can include  transient loss of vision, blind spots, flashing light or shadowy spots and double vision.

     Migraines without headaches are not directly related to the eyes. Instead the migraine activity occurs in the visual cortex of the brain located in the back of the skull.

    Many factors can contribute to migraine, some serious and some less so.

    One way doctors rule out sight problems is by giving a visual field test. It is a computer-based test that displays lights in different parts of the field of vision while the eye is focused on a target. When the patient sees a flash of light, he or she hits the buzzer. This lets the doctor know what areas of the eye detect the light.

    Once the correct diagnosis is given, the proper treatment can be determined to help prevent or minimize migraine side effects.

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    Migraines and Sex

    Posted by healthwyse on February 7, 2008

    In 1988, a forthright woman in a headache treatment study inspired an Oklahoma doctor to question the sexual healing of migraines.

    “This lady said ‘I really don’t need a pill, I need a guy’s phone number,” said James Couch, a neurology professor at Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. The patient told Couch she had trouble curing her headaches since her husband had divorced her and she’d signed up for a pain treatment study.

    Couch thought this was interesting, in a scientific way, of course. “A physiologic process — the climax — is turning off another physiologic process,” said Couch.

    So he asked 84 other female migraine patients if they ever had sex during a headache and, if so, what happened?

    Two out of three women reported having sex during a migraine — those intense debilitating headaches characterized by nausea and sensitivity to light, or sound. Doctors estimate about 18 percent of women and 9 percent of men get migraines often.

    Of the women who tried sex with a migraine, 61 percent reported some sort of relief. Not bad, compared to the latest migraine drugs called triptans, which might soothe 60 percent to 80 percent of headaches, says Couch.

    Perhaps more intriguing to Couch was the reports that sex could sometimes stop a migraine dead in its tracks, instead of slowly dulling the pain. More than 20 percent of women reported that sex cured their migraines, while triptans might cure migraine in 30 percent of patients, says Couch.

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