Oh My Aching Head

MigrainesCould your headache be a migraine?  Do you have headaches which seem to linger on and on, no matter what type of over-the-counter medication you take?  Is the pain located on one side of your head?  Do you become sensitive to light and sound?  Do you feel sick from it?  If you answer yes to any of these questions, it is most likely not a simple headache at all, but a terrible migraine.

It is estimated that more than 29 million Americans suffer from migraines, and unfortunately women are affected more than men.  What complicates this further is that many migraines are attributed to sinus infections or tension headaches.

Migraines are typically brought on by stress, skipping a meal, lack of sleep, medications, sunlight, TV, certain foods, or loud constant noise.  The pain is caused when brain cells set off a specific nerve which releases chemicals that cause swelling of the blood vessels on the surface of the brain.  The result is a pain felt around the eye or temple area.

Not easily diagnosed, routine CT scans may be performed to determine if there are any other underlying causes.  This is certainly no comfort to those who experience migraines.  While there are many reasons why someone would develop migraines, it is suggested by doctors to keep a diary to determine the frequency of the migraines and what event played a role in its onset.

Accordingly, the FDA has approved three over-the-counter medications to treat migraines.  Whether or not they are effective, only the individual experiencing the pain can determine.  However, it should be noted that some of these medications can cause side effects.  Moreover, more potent prescription medications have also been approved by the FDA to control the incidents of migraines.  However, these also may have adverse effects.

Another type of therapy, one that has been used as an alternative to drugs, is biofeedback.  Using a specific type of equipment which monitors physical tension, a migraine patient has the ability to control the catalyst which contributes to the stress. After a certain amount of time, the patient can then use this technique without equipment to either stop the attack or minimize its effects.

Migraines are and can be debilitating.  Whether you choose drug therapy or biofeedback therapy, it is up to you to decide which treatment is most effective and carries with it less risk in developing side effects.

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