Month: October, 2017
Aging and Migraines
Aging is a fact of life. Getting older means increasing frailty and susceptibility to illness, but it can also be a boon to migraineurs (people who experience migraine headaches). Only 2-10% of the elderly population experiences migraines (as opposed to up to 28% of adults under 65), and elderly women are still more likely to have them than their male counterparts.
Migraines can happen at any age, but they peak around age 40. The frequency of migraine attacks after 40 decreases for most people. Many migraineurs who have suffered with this condition for years experience a reduction in the frequency and severity of attacks after age 55.
About two thirds of migraineurs stop having attacks altogether by age 65. Patients over 65 who still have migraines report drastically decreased severity, duration, and frequency in their attacks. They are also less likely to experience the gastrointestinal upset that accompanies migraine in younger people.
The downside to all this good news is that adults over 65 who suffer from migraines are more likely than younger patients to experience disability because of their affliction. Many physicians are uncomfortable with treating senior citizens for migraines because therapeutic methods used on younger people are often not tested for safety in an older patient.
Additional conditions and the medications used to treat them complicate the problem. Seniors are more likely to be on one or more prescription drugs and each new medication increases the risk of adverse drug reactions. This possibility makes some doctors reluctant to offer senior migraineurs pharmaceutical assistance.
The onset of migraines after age 50 is very rare and should be investigated with a doctor to rule out the possibility of secondary causes. Late onset does not rule out migraine (only one third of senior headaches are due to secondary conditions) but it makes it less likely.
Migraines and Insomnia
A bout of insomnia will often bring on a migraine in someone prone to them. Having a migraine will often lead to insomnia. It sounds like a vicious cycle, and, for some migraineurs, it can be.
Insomnia is characterized by the inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or fall back to sleep if awakened unexpectedly. Head and abdominal pain from a migraine may exacerbate the inability to sleep in people already inclined to sleep disorders.
A 2005 study published in Headache, the journal of the American Headache Society, discusses the links between poor sleep and migraines. Most of the study participants reported some form of sleep trouble and over 50% attributed migraine onset to sleep disturbances at least some of the time.
Almost 40% of participants admitted to sleeping six or less hours a night. These “short sleepers” experienced more frequent and severe migraines than other migraineurs. Short sleepers were also more likely to wake up with daily headaches, a condition known as transformed migraines.
Over 85% of the study participants said they chose to sleep or rest because of headache pain and 75% said the pain forced them to sleep.
Insomnia and migraines have something in common. Serotonin deficiency is linked to a number of disorders, including migraines and insomnia. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter thought to be an important part of the body’s regulation of sleep, mood, appetite, vomiting, and body temperature. It is manufactured in the gastrointestinal tract, where 90% of it is produced, and the central nervous system, and then stored in the blood.
Insufficient serotonin levels are also associated with several gastric disorders. This may explain why so many migraine sufferers experience stomach problems prior to or during a headache. Lack of serotonin is also likely to be a major component in the phenomenon known as abdominal migraines.
When The Cure Becomes The Cause Of Illness
It is bad enough to have an illness. But there are times when the cure is as bad as the illness itself, and worse, it is possible that the cure itself can become the cause of the illness.
Many people suffer headaches daily due to a number of different reasons, the causes of which are as diverse as undiagnosed jaw disorders, genetic susceptibility and stress. However, recent research shows that a growing number of headaches are being caused by the very medications taken to alleviate them. Almost half of chronic migraine headaches, and as many as 25 percent of all headaches, are actually “rebound” episodes triggered by the overuse of common pain medications, such as prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
Oftentimes, people tend to pop too many pills in dealing with a migraine or a simple tension-type headache. But when the medications stop, another headache follows, which may be similar to a hangover. This will prompt them to seek the medicine cabinet again, and before long they become hooked in a cycle of headaches and over-medication.
There are more than three million Americans suffering from headaches they are inflicting on themselves, according to Dr. Stephen D. Silberstein, a professor of Neurology and director of the Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. “If a patient’s headaches have grown markedly worse or more frequent, the problem is almost always medication overuse,” Dr. Silberstein said.
The International Headache Society last year published revised criteria to help doctors recognize and treat headaches from medication overuse. Signs of trouble include headaches that occur 15 or more days a month, according to the society, along with the heavy use of pain medications for three months or more. Overuse is defined as taking pain medication for 15 or more days a month.
“Overuse has less to do with how many pills you take to relieve a single headache than with how often you take them,” said Dr. Robert Kunkel, a headache specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Headache Center. “If you get more than two headaches a week and take pain pills for them, you’re at risk.”
The use of a certain medication may be discontinued in order to know whether it is the cause of a certain headache. For medication-dependent patients, this test may take as long as two months before an improvement can actually be seen.
People who experience migraine seem to be especially susceptible to rebound episodes. Many doctors begin weaning these patients off painkillers by prescribing drugs to help prevent attacks, then gradually reducing doses of the painkillers used to treat acute episodes.
One of several drugs that have been approved to prevent migraines is topiramate (Topamax), which studies suggest may lessen the frequency of attacks for up to 14 months. Moreover, early trials reveal that Botox injected into the scalp can prevent or reduce the frequency of both migraines and tension headaches.
Although the Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve the use of botulinum toxin for headaches, it is already being offered by a growing number of clinics due to its ability to provide relief for up to three months.
It is encouraging to know that tension headaches can actually be prevented with stress reduction techniques and avoidance of certain triggers. With close attention to prevention, those who suffer from tension headaches may not need to resort to painkillers often enough to risk rebounding. Almost any kind of pain reliever can cause rebound problems if use in excess. However, most patients show dramatic improvement after three months of being weaned from medication. They also learned their lesson and steer clear of overusing pain pills.
Anyone who has ever had a migraine will say they do not just happen in the head. The headache is usually the worst and most painful part of a migraine, but there’s more. Most migraineurs (people who suffer from migraines) will talk about photosensitivity (sensitivity to light), phonosensitivity (sensitivity to sound), scent sensitivity, gastric pain, cramping, and vomiting.
Sometimes the abdominal symptoms show up without the other typical migraine symptoms. When they do, a patient is said to be experiencing an abdominal migraine. An abdominal migraine is pain, usually varying from mild to medium, in the abdomen. The pain is either along the midline or unspecified and is frequently accompanied by abdominal tenderness, cramp-like spasms, bloating, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
Since abdomen pain can be caused by a wide variety of conditions other causes need to be ruled out before a diagnosis can be made. In a classic abdominal migraine, no gastric cause for the pain can be identified. Migraineurs need to let their doctors know about their migraines when they experience unspecified abdominal pain so that the doctor knows abdominal migraine may be a possibility.
Abdominal migraines are most common in children. Children who experience abdominal migraines frequently grow up to be migraineurs. While abdominal migraine is not unheard of in adults, it is rare. Like most other types of migraine, it is also more common in females than in males.
While the exact cause of abdominal migraines is unknown, it is highly likely to be related to serotonin deficiency. Serotonin deficiency has been linked in several studies to migraines, and 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gastric system. Serotonin deficiency causes cascading waves of nerve reaction in the brain when triggering a migraine and a similar process may be in effect in the abdomen.
5 Ways to Relieve Migraine Headaches Naturally!
There are many new migraine headache treatments available that can be both safe and effective. Natural treatments for migraine headaches are usually safer and cheaper than traditional pain medications. And in many instances they can relieve pain just as well or even better than prescription or non-prescription drugs. The possibility of a negative reaction to a safe and natural migraine headache treatment is still there, but it is less with most natural treatment methods than it is with pain-relieving medications.
Every person on the face of the earth is unique. Their body chemistry is different than anyone else’s. One person may find relief from their migraine headaches with one type of treatment while someone else may try that same treatment and find no relief at all. No two people will experience the same reaction from the same treatment. But why is that?
Every body is made up of a mixture of chemicals. Every person produces certain chemicals in their body so that they will be able to function at their best. Histamines will increase gastric secretion and dilate the capillaries. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas and helps regulate the blood sugar levels. Hormones are produced by the body for many different functions. Adrenaline (epinephrine) is produced in response to stress. Every body is unique and produces different chemicals in differing amounts. When a person takes aspirin (a chemical) for their migraine headaches it changes the chemical make-up of that person’s body.
You’ve always heard that when two chemicals, in the same amounts, at the same temperature, etc. are mixed together they will cause the same reaction. That may be true, but when one chemical (such as aspirin) is taken by two separate people their reactions will never be exactly the same because no two people have identical chemicals in their body. One person taking aspirin will not have the same reaction as someone else taking aspirin. And it’s the same with natural migraine headache treatments. Since no two people are identical no two people will respond exactly the same to a treatment method for migraine headaches.
So just because one migraine headache treatment does not work for one person does not mean it won’t work for your migraine headaches. There are many effective alternatives to taking medications when it comes to relieving migraine headaches. You just have to try one for yourself to see if it will work for you.
One natural and popular treatment method for migraine headaches is chiropractic care, or chiropractic manipulations. Studies have shown that over 80% of headache patients find some type of relief for their headaches with chiropractic treatment. And chiropractic treatment has been shown to be extremely safe. Spinal problems cause headaches and when these spinal problems are treated by chiropractors a high percentage of their patients experience relieve from their pain.
Another natural way to relieve migraine headaches is biofeedback. This is a safe and potentially effective way to eliminate pain. Biofeedback is not actually a treatment, but a training program designed to help a person develop the ability to control their autonomic (involuntary) nervous system. Functions that are normally automatic in the body, such as blood pressure regulation or heart rate can be controlled voluntarily. This technique makes it possible for a person to control their own heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature or relaxation of their muscles.
It’s no secret that stress causes muscle tension. And nobody will deny that muscle tension causes pain and headaches. And it’s also a fact that by relaxing this muscle tension, especially in the neck and head, it is possible to relieve the migraine headaches or neck pain that is being caused by the tension. With biofeedback the machinery is not always necessary. Once the biofeedback technique is learned there is no longer any need for the equipment. The patient with migraine headaches can now produce the desired effect at any time. A person that has been trained with biofeedback can control some of their bodily functions, such as muscle relaxation, which can help relieve their headache pain.
Another cause of headaches can be the intake of too much salt. Some people just can’t get enough of it. They pour it onto their food with wreckless abandon. And too much salt can and does cause headaches. What’s the solution? Simply lessening the salt intake can sometimes prevent the headaches from occurring.
Food sensitivities have also been shown to cause migraine headaches in some people. Foods such as cheese, alcohol, MSG (monosodium glutamate – a food additive), yeast, wheat, nuts, avocados, beans, bananas, oranges (and other citrus fruits), pork, vinegar (and pickled foods), dairy products, caffeine, chocolate, onions and others can cause migraines. Foods that cause migraine headaches are called “migraine triggers.” People who experience migraine headaches because of food allergies can reduce or eliminate their pain by eliminating the foods that cause the headaches.
It sounds simple, but it takes a little detective work to figure out which foods, if any, are causing the migraine headaches. So how can you determine which foods are the culprits? The logical way is to keep a diary of what you eat and when. Get a small notebook, with each page representing one day, and make three columns on each of the pages. The first column on the left side of the page will contain the hours in the day. The second column down the middle of the page will be a list of the foods eaten that day. And the third column on the right side of the page will list the symptoms (headaches) that you experience.
Here’s how the food diary works: if you had an orange, cereal and milk for breakfast at 8 AM you would write “orange, cereal, milk” in the middle (food) column directly to the right of 8 AM in the left (time) column. Make a note of everything that you eat on this list and at what time you ate them.
Next, whenever you experience a migraine headache write “migraine headache” or “headache” in the right (symptoms) column that corresponds with the time (in the left column) your headache began. For example, if you started feeling pain from one of your migraine headaches at 2 PM you would write “headache” in the right (symptoms) column directly across from 2 PM in the left (time) column.
Once you’ve had enough time to experience a few migraine headaches you will be able to examine your food diary to determine which foods you ate shortly before you began experiencing your pain. For example, if you had 3 migraine headaches over a one-month period, and you had milk shortly before each of the migraine attacks, milk may be the culprit. It may take a few weeks or even a few months to come to any conclusions, but over time, by figuring out which foods or ingredients in these foods, are causing your pain, you will be able to eliminate these ingredients and relieve your pain caused by these foods.
Probably the most common cause of headaches is just plain old stress. People who experience tension in their lives can get headaches from their increased tension. Stress can be caused by many things including work-related stress or family-related stress. And although it’s not always possible to eliminate the cause of the stress it is often possible to relieve the muscle tension and pain that originates from the stress.
Biofeedback training (as explained above) is one way to help reduce stress. Other ways are taking a warm bath or shower, lying down and relaxing in a quiet dark room, having someone massage your neck and head (temporal region) muscles to help relieve your tension and muscle spasms or placing something cold (ice) on the back of the neck (at the base of the skull). When using ice it should not be placed directly on the skin. Some wet paper towels that have had the water wrung out of them should be placed between the ice and the skin. Regular exercise can also, over time, reduce tension.
We have discussed 5 natural treatment methods that are available to migraine headache patients. They are all considered safe and are effective for many people. There are many other natural treatment methods out there for you to try. If you have headaches it may be beneficial for you to try some of these treatments or search for others on your own. But as a word of advice, it is always a good idea to talk with a chiropractor or medical doctor before treating yourself for a health condition.
Which Is The Weaker Sex When It Comes To Pain?
Women have been stereotyped as complainers, endless talkers, damsels in distress…the weaker sex. But given the extensive research and studies made on women-related diseases, some might conclude that women have, indeed, more reason to complain about.
Infertility, endometriosis, mammography, breast diseases, vaginal diseases, vulvar disease, osteoporosis, glaucoma, childbearing, and menopause — these are just some of the diseases or conditions that affect millions of women around the world. Scientists who were investigating gender differences in pain have found that, compared to men, women experience more pain throughout the course of their lifetime. They also experience pain more severely and for longer periods of time compared to men.
Some of the most astounding research concerns the medications used to treat pain. This work calls into question the age-old pain management practice of “one size (or one drug) fits all.” For example, a series of studies have shown that morphine-like drugs called kappa-opioids, produce significantly greater pain relief in women than in men. These drugs work through receptors in the central nervous system. There are multiple types of opioid receptors which are kappa, mu, delta, and sigma. The mu and kappa categories are the two major classes thought to be responsible for the analgesic effect. Kappa-opioids are not as commonly used as other narcotic pain medications. Drugs that work on the mu-receptors are the most commonly prescribed pain relief drugs of that class. However, these drugs have side effects such as nausea, itching, constipation, among others.
Other studies have shown that common pain relievers do less for women than for men. In a study of experimentally-induced pain, ibuprofen, the key ingredient in Advil, Motrin, and other over-the-counter analgesics known as NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) were less effective in providing pain relief for women than men. Ibuprofen is the most common medication taken to treat headaches. Examples of primary headaches are migraine headaches, cluster headaches and tension headaches.
“Tension-type” headaches, or tension headaches, are the most common type of “head pain.” About 30% to 80% of adults occasionally experience this kind of headache. These headaches are sometimes called stress headaches, muscle contraction headaches, daily headaches, or chronic non-progressive headaches. Tension headaches are more common among women than men and occurs two to three times more frequently among women.
Aside from tension headaches, there are many painful diseases and injuries that affect women. Osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative joint disease is more common among women over the age of fifty-five, and women may suffer from a more severe form of this disease. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) occurs two and a half times more often among women, and it may also affect them more severely. Women athletes experience knee injuries two to eight times more frequently than their male counterparts. This is particularly true for tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Osteoporosis affects both sexes, but women develop it at a much younger age and in far greater numbers because of hormonal differences.
Even when men and women suffer from the same illness, the accompanying symptoms may be totally different. We don’t know why these differences exist but a wide range of scientific studies show that the sexes differ on nearly every level. From the molecular to the psychological, from the basic genetic codes to the hormones, biology, physiology, and the overall functioning of the immune response systems.
So which is the weaker sex when it comes to pain? It may be hard to say since women and men have different experiences with pain. But a more interesting twist to this issue is that while women experience pain more severely, they still have a longer life span than men.
oTension Headaches—The Most Common Headache
Headache is a very common health problem. It is often associated with pain in the head, which includes the eyes and the ears, the area behind the head and the upper part of the neck. Oftentimes it occurs without a specific cause as well. There are many kinds of headaches, which are classified according to the location of the pain and the symptoms it brings.
According to the International Headache Society there are more than 150 types of headaches. But the most common of them all is tension headache, which according to specialists represents about 60 percent of all headaches. Even though this kind of headache is rampant, a lot of people don’t really understand this kind of health condition.
These headaches according to specialists are caused by muscle contraction in the head area. Tension headache is said to be caused by bad posture, long hours of sitting or driving, incorrect sleeping habits because of the stress it brings to the head area. Other factors that contribute to tension headaches are emotional stress and depression. This illness normally disappears when the period of stress is over.
Usually a headache starts in the morning and lasts until the afternoon. Because of this illness work related absences occur, sleepless nights are encountered, and irritability therefore follows. There are times that people are hospitalized because of headaches. Which means that severe and frequent headaches can be very costly. Over 40 percent of Americans experience headaches. And of course a lot of them often complain of the pain and discomfort it brings.
None of us want to have a headache that would last for hours or even for a day sometime. Sudden attacks of headaches are sometimes inevitable and may occur several times a day. People with headaches also limited to join activities in work, family and leisure. Because of this growing health problem, specialists have developed drugs to treat this problem.
A scientific breakthrough that combines of acetaminophen and butalbital are developed by specialists to treat this kind of headache. Acetaminophen acts as a pain reliever and also reduces fever. Butalbital on the other hand is a kind of drug that slows down the nervous system and reduces the contractile force in the muscle that causes headaches.
If you decided to use this medicine, there are certain precautions to be taken. Make sure to tell your doctor if you have unusual allergic reaction to butalbital or acetaminophen. Pregnant and breast-feeding women are not encouraged to take this drug because of the unknown effects it may cause to the unborn baby or infant. Do not take this medication without informing your doctor about your pregnancy. The opinion of your doctor is very important in order for you to make a better decision regarding this drug.
Get Rid of Migraines through Hypnosis
For those who suffer from migraine headaches, their highest ideal is a way to get rid of migraines. These nagging, horrible aches that can leave you unable to think, see, or move can be enough to leave you paralyzed. The simple act of seeing a light can send shots of pain through your entire skull. And the worst part about them is the simple fact that they are still something of a mystery. No one is exactly sure why people get migraine headaches. But people do get them and they desperately want to get rid of migraines.
Among the more controversial, but still very effective ways to get rid of migraines is through hypnosis. It doesn’t seem possible after all. A method used to adjust thought should not be able to stop a physical event. However, as the mind-body correlation is further explored and holistic medicine continues to make inroads into the strictly chemistry-based medicine of today, hypnosis is showing itself as a powerful tool for doctors who want to treat the whole patient.
One of the most famous and familiar uses for hypnosis is in the area of pain management. By hypnotizing a subject, one can actually make them feel no pain. It seems incredible, but several studies and stories have shown it to be the case. This has made hypnotic anesthesia a genuine alternative to chemical anesthesia. Thus, hypnosis can be used to manage the pain of migraines.
However, one can also get rid of migraines entirely with hypnosis. By using the mind-body connection to allow the mind to adjust the body, a person can get rid of migraines by informing the mind to stop having them. This doesn’t seem possible, but there is some evidence to show that physical problems and disease can be cured through properly caring for peoples’ mental states. By treating the mind as an underlying cause of disease, as in the body outwardly shows a manifestation of the ills of the mind, one can actually cure physical ills by working with the mind. Though this may seem far-fetched, it has been shown to be remarkably effective in many cases. Thus, if one wants to get rid of migraines, one needs to work with the mind in order to effect change upon the mind and the reasons that its manifestation in the body is a sharp, unbearable, long-lasting pain that practically cripples the sufferer.
The mind-body connection is still something of a theory. However, medical evidence is beginning to show that it is a valid hypothesis. So if you want to get rid of migraines, speak with a trained hypnotherapist and see what he or she can do for you. Your mind is telling you something when your migraine attacks. Listen to it and let hypnosis cure it for you. Then, once you get rid of migraines entirely, you can live your life comfortable and confident in the fact that you will not need to ever suffer through that awful feeling again.
Relieving Tension Headaches
What causes tension headaches is not known, however the common assumption is that they are caused by muscle tension in the head and neck. Although muscle tension may be a related cause, there are many forms of tension headaches and recent thinking is that there is more than one cause for this type of headache.
One theory is a malfunctioning pain filter that is found in the brain stem may cause the pain. The thought is that the brain misinterprets information, from muscles, and interprets that signal as pain.
Serotonin is thought to be one of main molecules involved. This is evidenced by the fact that tension headaches can be successfully treated with some antidepressants. Teeth clenching is another theory as a cause for tension type headaches and migraine as it causes chronic contraction of the temporalis muscle.
Nonprescription painkillers such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen commonly relieve tension headaches. When severe muscle contraction occurs, stronger prescription drugs may be needed. However, there are side effects associated with these stronger drugs, namely drowsiness and slower reflexes. Therefore, most physicians will only recommend using strong medications for short periods of time and usually not for more than a few days.
Stress management can be very effective. Some people find exercises or meditation to be very relaxing. Biofeedback may improve relaxation exercises and can prove helpful for chronic tension headaches.
Other preventive measures you can try include keeping warm if your headache is associated with the cold. Try using a different pillow or changing your sleeping position. Adopt correct posture when reading, working or doing other activities that may cause headache. Exercise your neck and shoulder muscles when doing prolonged typing, computer work and when doing any close-up work. Getting enough sleep and massaging sore muscles can help reduce a headache occurring. Hot or cold showers or baths may relieve headaches too, so it’s worth experimenting to see if either help you.
Over-the-counter medication such as aspirin, ibruprofen, or acetominophen may relieve pain if the above-mentioned preemptive measures are ineffective. Sometimes antidepressant medication may be advised for the relief of chronic headaches.
Keeping a diary of your headaches can help identify the source of chronic headaches. When you suffer with a headache write down the date and time the headache began. Also write down what you ate and how much sleep you got over the previous 24 hours. If you noticed any unusual symptoms or felt under stress, make a note of it too. Also, keep a record of how long the headache lasted and what made it stop. Having a headache diary available can act as a tracking device and you may find patterns that you should do more to avoid.
Some lifestyle changes may be necessary to reduce tension headaches. This may include getting enough rest and exercise and possibly a change in job or free time activities.
If you are suffering with headaches or migraines, you should first consult your primary care physician before taking other steps.
Exercise to Ease Migraines
The relationship between exercise and migraines is quixotic. Science says that exercise, by promoting the regular release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain controllers, should help ease the frequency and severity of migraines. Many migraineurs claim that their attacks are triggered by physical exertion. Who is right?
Like many other aspects of migraines, the answer is contradictory because both groups are correct. Strenuous exercise can cause migraines in people who are prone to them. Regular exercise can reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches as well as increasing overall health and wellness.
Regular exercise reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It also helps improve sleep patterns and relieves stress. All of which can subtly affect the likelihood of migraines.
Migraineurs who gave up exercise as a headache trigger should try again. Common exercise migraine triggers are things like:
* Not eating properly before exercising and causing a dramatic drop in blood sugar to occur
* Not taking in enough fluid and becoming dehydrated while exercising
* Starting a new eating plan and a new exercise plan at the same time
* Attempting strenuous exercise without warming up properly
To pinpoint exertion-related migraine triggers, migraineurs should keep an exercise log. It should include specific information:
* Time of day when exercising
* Last meal prior to workout
* Fluid intake
* Medication details
* Whether or not a headache occurred during or after the workout
The best type of exercise for migraineurs is regular, moderate aerobic exercise, at least 30 minutes three times a week. Recommended activities include:
* Power Walking
Any new exercise plan needs at least six weeks to discover if it has a beneficial effect on migraines.