Headaches From Hell by Nigel Pipe - HTML preview
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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 (sensitivityto 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, cramplike 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.
Applying Heat or Cold for Migraine Relief
Many migraineurs (people who suffer from migraine headaches) relieve the pain of a migraine with the judicious application of heat or cold. This type of pain abatement is particularly popular with people trying to minimize or avoid prescription medication use, especially among paediatric patients and their families.
Below are a few techniques that can help ease the pain of a migraine. Not all techniques work for all patients. While some migraineurs find comfort in cold, at least as many are more uncomfortable in the presence of cold. The same is true of heat used for pain relief—for some it helps, for others it makes the pain worse.
Apply a compress, hot or cold, to point on the head where pain is most severe. This is frequently on the temple where a large artery runs, or in front of the ear, another arterial locale.
For patients who feel their migraine pain “stabbing into the back of the eye” a damp cloth (warm or cool) laid over the eyes often provides relief. As a side benefit, covering the eyes in this manner also eases the discomfort of photosensitivity for many patients.
Taking a hot or cold shower with the water directed at the head and neck is another method to try, as is taking a warm (neither hot nor cold) bath. The latter is further enhanced with the use of appropriate aromatherapy techniques.
Some patients find relief in by alternating hot and cold cloths at the point where the migraine pain is most intense. Sometimes hot and cold used simultaneously can ease the pain. A migraineur may apply a cold compress on their forehead while at the same time soaking their feet in a container of warm water.
Rarely are patients simultaneously sensitive to both hot and cold, but it should be watched for.
Common Migraine Food Triggers
No one knows for sure what causes migraine headaches. The most likely to answer to-date is that a serious of small irritations or reactions pile up until, finally, a migraine headache is triggered. Migraine triggers are different foreach individual, but many migraineurs claim that a particular food or combination of foods will push them over the edge into a headache.
Keep in mind that most science disagrees with migraineurs when it comes to food triggers. There are no conclusive studies indicating a link between certain foods and migraine headaches, so all information is anecdotal. Thething is there is a lot, tons in fact, of anecdotal evidence for the link. While a migraine trigger food can be, quite literally, anything, some foods come up on the trigger list for enough people to merit discussion.Cheese
Cheese is a major trigger for many migraineurs. Particularly likely to cause an attack are hard or aged cheeses. Soft cheeses like cream cheese and new cheeses seem to be fine and unlikely to cause problems.Processed Meats
Nitrates are believed by many to be a major migraine trigger. For most people, the most common source of nitrates is processed meat, items like hot dogs, sausage, bacon, processed lunch meats, etc.Condiments
Salad dressings are a trigger for many. The reason is not known, but is probably tied to a combination of other triggers all coming together in one place.Spices and Additives
Any spice can be a trigger. Spices as triggers may be tied, at least partially, to scent sensitivity, since many spices have a pungent odour. Seasoning's that seem to give migraineurs the most trouble include mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), common in Asian foods, artificial sweeteners, food dyes, and vinegar.Migraineurs who suspect a food trigger should consider trying an elimination diet to pinpoint the trigger food(s).Hemiplegic Migraine
There are a number of different types of migraine headaches, including both the classic and common migraine. One particularly rare type of migraine is the Hemiplegic migraine.Hemiplegic migraines are migraine headaches with very particular symptoms. They include: A sudden attack unilateral (one-sided) weakness and/or paralysis, typically during the aura phase of migraine. The weakness frequently involves a Migraineurs face, arm, and leg. When the right side of the body is the affected side, the migraineur may be speech impaired. A mild head trauma can trigger a hemiplegic migraine. A migraine headache follows the paralysis. The paralysis lasts from an hour to days, but usually clears up within 24 hours. Dizziness, vertigo, double vision, and difficulty in walking or balancing may all be part of a hemiplegic migraine.
Hemiplegic migraines are predominantly genetic and sufferers usually have at least one first or second-degree relative (parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, first cousin) who also suffers from hemiplegic migraines. Since many hemiplegic migraines are brought on by minor head trauma, people with a propensity for this type of migraine are encouraged to avoid contact sports. In families where the condition is common, onset frequently occurs in childhood, so the no-contact rule is particularly important for children in hemiplegic prone families.
Several genetic markers have been identified for hemiplegic migraine specifically. It is not a condition that screening is normally offered for, but screening is available for it upon request.
This type of migraine is particularly disturbing because its symptoms so closely resemble a stroke. Fortunately, the stroke-like effects usually reverse completely within 24 hours. They are also problematic because hemiplegic migraines do not respond to most migraine medications and often have to be treated more like epilepsy with more dangerous medications than regular migraineurs take.
Migraine sufferers are turning to non-pharmacological options to reduce the number of headaches they have. Prophylactic drugs aimed at migraine prevention can have many unpleasant side effects and do not work at all forsome migraineurs (people who have chronic migraines). A migraineur’s lifestyle impacts the severity and frequency of the attacks and lifestyle changes, like those mentioned below can prevent migraine recurrence.Sleep:
Migraineurs need to learn how much sleep they need and make sure they do not get too little sleep or too much more than they need. Patients who do not get enough sleep during the work week who try to make up for it over the weekend may trigger a headache.Exercise:
Physical exertion in moderation is good for everyone, including migraineurs. Establishing a regular exercise routine, at least 20-40 minutes of physical activity a minimum of three times a week, relieves stress that triggers headaches and exerciseinduced endorphins are a natural analgesic.Stress Management:
Migraineurs are susceptible to attacks during periods of high stress. If stress is unavoidable, they should build time for stress relief into their routine to prevent a headache. Good stress management techniques for migraineurs are massage, exercise, adequate sleep and a healthy diet.Eating:
Migraineurs should eat regular meals at roughly the same time daily and not skip a meal unless it is an emergency. A good, healthy breakfast goes a long way in preventing headaches.
The most important thing is to be consistent with any lifestyle change. Migraineurs need regular behaviour patterns and they must be applied on weekends and holidays, not just during the week. Getting out of sync two
days a week by sleeping in, skipping meals, or staying up late defeats the purpose of lifestyle changes and upsets the balance created by having a pattern the rest of the week.Reflexology for Migraines
Say the word migraine and most migraineurs will reflexively cringe in remembered pain, their last headache still vivid in their memory. Say the word reflexology to them and you will likely get a blank stare. A recent (2006) study in Denmark indicates that migraineurs who get more familiar with reflexology are less likely to cringe reflexively at the mention of migraines.What is reflexology?
Reflexology is a massage technique based on the idea that every part of the human body has a corresponding point on the sole of the foot. Reflexologists
believe that massage and stimulation of these points on the foot can relieve tension, pain, and stress in the corresponding parts of the body.
In the Danish study involved a mix of migraineurs and people experiencing chronic tension headaches. Approximately 90% of the people who participated in the study admitted to taking prescribed medication in the month prior to the study specifically for their headaches. After the study, 19% of participants said they were able to stop taking medication for their headaches thanks to the treatment.
The study involved a course of six to eight treatments with monthly follow-up treatments thereafter for a period of six months. At the conclusion of the six
months 23% of the study participants said they were completely cured and no
longer having headaches. Fifty-five percent of the participants noted marked improvement in their condition—headaches were less frequent and less severe. A remarkable 78% of the study participants saw an improvement in their condition.
At a follow-up check three months after the conclusion of the study 23% of the migraineurs stated they were cured. About 41% said they felt their quality of life was improved.The treatments were most effective on younger patients and those who had been experiencing migraines for a shorter period of time.