Migraine Headaches

If you suffer from headaches, don’t despair because there is help and treatment. Millions of Americans suffer from headaches every day.

  • While there are several different types of headaches, they are generally classified as either primary or secondary.
  • Primary headaches represent about 90% of all headaches, and are not associated with any type of underlying medical condition.
  • Three of the most common types of primary headaches are migraines, cluster and tension headaches. Secondary headaches are more serious and are typically associated with an underlying medical condition.

If you are having headaches, you need to tell your physician right away.

Migraine Headache Symptoms

Migraine headaches can occur with or without a warning symptom known as an “aura.” Auras can include blind spots or visions of flashing lights, flickering colors or zigzag lines.

Headaches often occur on one side of the head, but can also occur on both. You may experience:

  • Moderate to severe pain that limits activities
  • Throbbing or pulsating pain in the back of the head and neck area
  • Pain in and around the eyes or between the eyes
  • Pain that becomes worse with activity
  • A headache that may last 4-72 hours

Other migraine headache symptoms can include:

  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Blurred vision
  • Paleness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness

Migraine Headache Triggers

Some foods and beverages may trigger a migraine headache. Ask your JWM Neurologist for our “Headache Diary” – which will help you keep track of the foods you eat in order to better understand what might be triggering your migraines.

Some migraine headache triggers include:

  • Dairy products: aged cheese, ice cream and cultured dairy products like buttermilk, sour cream and yogurt
  • Meats: aged, canned or cured and processed meats containing MSG and nitrates – such as bologna, hot dogs, sausage and bacon
  • Fruits and vegetables: figs, papayas, passion fruit, raisins, red plums, bananas, avocados, citrus fruits, onions, pea pods and sauerkraut
  • Legumes: beans including pole, broad, lima, navy, pinto, garbanzo and lentil
  • Alcohol: alcoholic beverages, red wine and beer
  • Caffeine: chocolate, coffee, tea and colas

Other Migraine Headache Triggers

  • Lifestyle: too much or too little sleep, changes in meal times, exertion, fatigue, anxiety and stress
  • Hormonal: menstrual cycle, pregnancy, oral contraceptives and estrogen therapy
  • Environmental: changes in weather/temperature, changes in altitude/time zones, bright or flickering lights, unusual odors and fumes
  • Medication: overuse of over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc.

Headaches and Sleep Apnea

Did you know that migraine and other headaches can be caused by a condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea – where your breathing stops during sleep?

Tell your JWM Neurologist if you experience:

  • Disrupted breathing during sleep
  • Episodes of waking up gasping for air
  • Snoring
  • Restless sleep
  • Unexplained daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability

For more information about headaches, visit www.headaches.org (National Headache Foundation) or www.americanheadachesociety.org (American Headache Society).

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