bookmark_borderChronic Daily Headache: Same Old, Same Old

Chronic Daily Headache: Same Old, Same Old

“Chronic daily headache” (CDH) refers to the unhappy situation in which headaches are present at least fifteen days per month. Headaches can even occur every day or almost every day. CDH is more of a category than a final diagnosis, and different, recognizable patterns of headache are included in this category. It is important to distinguish among the different patterns because, once recognized, they can indicate the underlying cause and dictate appropriate treatment.

CDH can occur in the form of either “primary headaches” or “secondary headaches.” Secondary headache means that the headache is a symptom of some other disease or process. In this case, the best treatment is the one that addresses the underlying cause. Primary headache means that the headache disorder itself is the disease and is not a symptom of something else.

The most common primary headache condition is “tension-type headaches.” Generally affecting the left and right sides equally, tension-type headaches often involve the back of the head and neck, but can also include the front of the head. These headaches are usually mild to moderate in intensity and have pressing or tightening qualities. Nausea, photosensitivity and sound sensitivity are not prominent in this headache disorder and tension-type headaches do not usually worsen with exertion.

Migraine is another common primary headache disorder which, when present more days than not, is also categorized as CDH. Migraine attacks typically last 4-72 hours when untreated. They are of moderate to severe intensity and often have a pulsating quality. They show increased tendency to affect just one side of the head and to include the associated symptoms of nausea, light sensitivity and sound sensitivity. They usually worsen with exertion.

While some people have frequent, individual, migraine attacks that span more than 15 days per month and are therefore categorized as CDH, another form of migraine involves a blending together of attacks into a more continuous, never-ending pattern. This usually occurs in people who previously had the more recognizable pattern of distinct, individual, migraine attacks. Just what happens in these cases–or even what to call it when it does happen–is a source of great debate among headache experts. One camp of experts calls it “chronic migraine” and another camp calls it “transformed migraine.”

To make matters even more interesting, a person can have more than one type of headache, for example, a mixture of migraine and tension-type headaches. When this occurs, the mixture can be difficult to distinguish from the previously mentioned chronic (or transformed) migraine.

Two other kinds of primary headache are rarer than migraine and tension-type headaches, and show quite different characteristics. These are “hemicrania continua” and “chronic cluster.” Hemicrania continua (“hemicrania” means half-headed and “continua” means continuous) is a strictly one-sided headache which can wax and wane in intensity without resolving. It does not include migraine’s usual associated symptoms of nausea, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity and exertional aggravation. Chronic cluster, like its less-frequent “episodic” form, involves intense, recurring pain in or around just one eye that lasts for only 15-180 minutes per attack, but which can occur more than once per day. Unlike its episodic cousin, chronic cluster does not go into remission without treatment.

Secondary headaches taking the form of CDH can be due to numerous causes. Among them are head injury, arthritis of the neck bones, arthritis of the jaw joints (TMJs), sinus disease, breathing problems during sleep, tumors or other conditions causing increased pressure within the braincase, and leakages of the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Two secondary forms of CDH deserve special mention–giant cell arteritis and medication overuse headaches. Giant cell arteritis (previously called temporal arteritis) occurs in people who are at least 50 years old and becomes more common in subsequent decades of life. It involves inflammation of larger-diameter arteries supplying blood to the brain and the rest of the head and, untreated, can lead to stroke or blindness. So it is important to recognize and treat this source of headaches before these complications occur. Classically, people with giant cell arteritis show a swollen, stiff, tender artery just beneath the skin of one or both temples. When this occurs, it facilitates diagnosis, but giant cell arteritis can still be present in the absence of this tell-tale sign. As a rule of thumb, giant cell arteritis should be considered as a possible diagnosis in every new headache disorder starting at the age of 50 or older.

Medication overuse headaches (also known as rebound headaches) occur when a primary headache disorder becomes transformed into an even worse secondary headache disorder via too many doses of as-needed medication. Typically, the primary headache disorders involved are either migraine or tension-type headaches, and the transformation occurs when the headache-sufferer takes need-driven medication for them at least two to three days each week. When the as-needed medication is a painkiller this syndrome is called “analgesic rebound” and when a triptan drug is used, it is called “triptan rebound.” Triptans are newer drugs, which include sumatriptan (Imitrex) and rizatriptan (Maxalt), that interact with specific chemical receptors and halt the generation of migraine attacks. The bottom line with medication overuse headaches is that they don’t get better until the drug that caused them is withdrawn and, even then, can take up to two months to wash out.

The group of disorders known as chronic daily headache afflicts 3-5% of the worldwide population and is a source of major disability in the form of lost or decreased functioning at home and at work. While many people with CDH treat them on their own, medical management can reduce suffering and improve quality of life.

(C) 2005 by Gary Cordingley

bookmark_borderI have a migraine headache

I have a migraine headache

I’ve been around several people that use the word Migraine, when they talk about having a headeache. Do these people actually have migraines? What is a migraine, and are there ways to relieve them? These are some of the questions I will answer.

The word “migraine” comes from the Greek word “hemikranion” which translates to “pain affectin one side of the head”. A Migraine is a headache in a form, that is usually very strong and can almost be disabling, when intense. Unlike commong headache’s which everyone is prone to, migraines are a neurologic disease, and the most common type of vascular headache.

Although everyone individual affected by migraines will characterize the symptoms differently, the book says: severe pain on one or more sides of the head, an upset stomach, and at times disturbed vision. The difference between a headache and migraine is summed up in the word “Aura”, which refers to the migraine features that are non-headache like. Migraines have been present throughout history, and it is known that family history and genetic factors are important in the likelyhood of migraines.

Many doctors deal with migraines, and will have several recommended treatment for migraines. It is in my experience that over the counter pain killers, and other drugs have their part in reducing the pain migraines cause, but are never actually able to cure them. Along with these drugs come several unfriendly side-effects, which are not enjoyable to say the least. Of course these side effects and effectiveness of the drugs are different on an invidual basis. The treatment that I have seen to be the most effective is the use of Chinese medicine, in particular accupuncture. Accupuncture is a natural medicine in that you are not injecting any drugs or anything inside of your body. You are simply just working with what is already there. Talk to your physician, and others that have experienced migraines, to find out what steps might be right for you.

bookmark_borderMigraine Headaches – Effective Natural Treatment Methods!

Migraine Headaches – Effective Natural Treatment Methods!

Headaches are comprised of two major categories, primary and secondary. Headaches belonging to the primary group are not caused by underlying medical conditions while secondary headaches are the result of a medical condition such as trauma, infection or possibly even a brain tumor. Most headaches belong in the primary category.

The primary category headaches include migraine headaches and tension headaches. These two headache types are the most common of all headaches with tension-type headaches being the most common. Tension headaches constitute about 75% of all headaches while migraine headaches affect as many as 30 or 40 million Americans, or approximately 10% or more of the American population.

Migraine headaches can become chronic in nature, but are typically experienced at most once or twice a week, not daily. Females experience the pain of migraines about 3 times as often as males, or about 75% of the time. Migraine headaches can be severe and disabling. They can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and a sensitivity to light. About 20% of migraine patients will experience an aura. An aura is a disturbance in vision that consists of brightly colored blinking lights that move across a person’s field of vision.

There are many types of treatment methods that are available to migraine sufferers, both natural and unnatural. The most common method of treatment are pain relievers that are bought without a prescription, or over-the-counter. Non-prescription drugs can include aspirin, Tylenol (acetaminophen), Motrin (ibuprofen), or a combination of acetaminophen and aspirin. These are the most commonly purchased types of non-prescription pain relievers. Migraine headache patients experiencing more severe pain may need prescription medicine.

There are also many types of natural treatment methods that don’t involve the use of non-prescription or prescription medications. These methods of treatment can often relieve migraine headache symptoms and are increasingly gaining popularity in today’s society as people are becoming more educated on the potentially dangerous side effects of drugs. One of these natural treatment methods is putting an ice pack on the back of the neck at the base of the skull. When using an ice pack there should be a barrier between the ice pack and the skin such as a wetted cloth or t-shirt that has had the water squeezed out of it. Ice therapy can lessen the flow of blood to the head resulting in less pressure in the head. It can often help relieve the throbbing pain of a migraine headache by decreasing the flow of blood to the head. It is often beneficial for a person to put their feet in a container of warm water at the same time. This can have the effect of attracting the blood to the feet instead of to the head.

Migraine headaches can sometimes be caused by foods and can be prevented by eliminating these food triggers. Foods that can trigger migraine headaches include, but are not limited to, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, MSG (monosodium glutamate), nuts, cheese, beans, onions and others. Eliminating the trigger may eliminate the migraines.

Another natural treatment method for migraine headaches is simply to reduce stress by relaxing. Many migraines are caused by stress, so eliminating the stress can relieve the pain. Relieving stress can sometimes be achieved by getting plenty of sleep, lying down in a dark quiet room, or a combination of lying down in a dark quiet room with a small ice pack positioned on the neck at the base of the skull as explained above.

This article is a general overview with regard to natural migraine headache treatment methods and may not apply to everyone. As always it is a good idea to seek the help of a professional before treating yourself for a potentially serious health condition.

bookmark_borderMinimizing The Pain During A Severe Headache

Minimizing The Pain During A Severe Headache

Experiencing headaches is one of the common complaints of people living in the modern world. Aside from the busy and stressful live they lead, more and more factors continue to emerge that contribute to this problem.

Experts agree that headaches are experienced when various structures of the head and neck become irritated. They have also categorized headache according to its types that have many different causes.

WHEN HEADACHE BECOMES SEVERE

Although headache is quite common to many people, experts say that people should not ignore headaches especially if they become severe. Based on medical findings, the most common symptom of severe headache is related to a migraine attack—caused by the dilation of blood vessels on the brain.

Severe headache usually leads to vomiting, distorted vision, nausea, dizziness, and the like. What you can do is to take over-the-counter medication such as oral analgesics like aspirin, ibuprofen, or paracetamol can provide relief and are best if taken as soon as symptoms start to occur.

But when the headache becomes worse, make sure that you visit your health care provider because it can also be an indication of more serious illnesses like meningitis or the inflammation of the meninges or membrane around a person’s brain; sub-arachnoid haemorrhage due a bleeding in the space between the brain and the arachnoid layer of the meninges, stroke, blood pressure, brain tumor, and temporal arteritis due to the inflammation of the arteries in the scalp.

Other causes of severe headache migraine, a condition that occurs and recurs in patterns; sinusitis that is a severe pain experienced behind your cheek bones or above the bridge of your nose usually associated with a blocked nose. steam and painkillers that should relieve the symptoms but if taken in wrong dosages can lead to severe and throbbing pain, fevers that are untreated like flu, tonsillitis, chest infections and the like, neuralgia or due to the irritation of the nerve that produces pain sensation in response to outside activities, and glaucoma or other acute eye problems that most of the time lead to severe frontal headaches and deteriorating eyesight.

Heath care experts agree that using any medication should only be part of a wellness program. They also agree that successful treatment of chronic headaches should be combined approaches of medication and life-style changes like avoiding any listed headache triggers, personal and family counseling, stress management, and relaxation therapies.

In order to treat any type of headache, it is a must that you know what causes it. Before taking in any painkillers or undergoing any headache treatment procedure, make sure that you have consulted with your physician or health care provider first so he/she can give you the appropriate prescription or can give you a referral to appropriate experts if your headache is caused by any other disorder.

bookmark_borderFinding a Migraine Doctor

Finding a Migraine Doctor

You have severe, debilitating headaches that cause you to vomit and huddle in a dark room for hours waiting for them to go away. Chances are they are migraines. The only way to know for sure, and start on the path to managing your condition if they are migraines, is to be properly diagnosed.

The first step should always be your regular doctor. One out of every eight people suffers from migraines, so chances are good that your doctor has seen someone who has migraines before. If your regular doctor does not feel qualified to properly diagnose the source of your headaches or discounts your pain, it may be time for a specialist.

Ask your doctor for a referral to a headache specialist. If they do not know anyone, check with your insurance company to see if they have any specialists listed. If that doesn’t work (or even if it does), contact your local medical board. You can also try one of the major headache organizations for professionals, not patients, and ask for the name of three or four specialists in your area.

Check with friends and family. The odds are good you know someone with migraines and they may just have a doctor they love. Another good place to ask for a referral is at a local teaching hospital or university.

When you have a few names, call and find out more about the doctor. Some good screening questions to ask the doctor are:

* How long have you been specializing in headache treatment and how often do you treat headache patients?
* Are you certified in your specialty (for doctors in the U.S. and Canada)?
* Do you belong to any headache-oriented professional organizations?
* Do you participate in any kind of continuing education program to stay apprised of the latest research on headache diagnosis and treatment?

bookmark_borderA Wide Array Of Effective Headache Treatments

A Wide Array Of Effective Headache Treatments

One of the major problems of people who are living stressful and busy lives is the occurrence of headaches. Being one of the common illnesses of people all over the world, headaches are usually cured by more and more people using over-the-counter painkillers to treat it.

TREATING HEADACHES

Contrary to popular belief, headaches cannot be cured but they can be managed or controlled. Today, more and more medications have emerged that aim to stop the throbbing pain associated with it or stop the symptoms that have resulted from it.

Taking in medications is the most popular way of combating the pains brought about by headaches. People from the medical field have categorized these into two: the Prophylactic treatment that is done every day to reduce the severity and frequency of attacks and Abortive treatment that is done once the headache attack begins.

A physician usually suggests prophylactic treatment only if the person is experiencing numerous headache attacks monthly. Once you have undergone this treatment, the doctor will strictly monitor the possible side effects like lethargy, drastic weight gain, hallucinations, memory impairment, and water retention.

While taking in this medication, make sure that you don’t combine it with any weight loss products. For starters, make sure that you are taking in low doses first before taking in large dose under prescription to test if it’s working correctly. Your physician should also constantly monitor any drug or vitamin intake and see if these interfere with the medication.

Pregnant women are not allowed to take this kind of medication and make sure that the medication is discontinued once the headache becomes manageable.

Prophylactic treatment involves the use of Beta Blockers like tenormin, lopressor, and inderal, Calcium Channel Blockers like cardizem, dilacor, and procardia, Antidepressants like elavil and Zoloft, Serotonin Antagonists like Sansert, Anticonvulsants like tegretol, depakote, and dilantin, and Ergot derivatives like cafergot.

Abortive treatment, on the other hand, is considered the first line of defense against headaches by taking in over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin, acetaminophen like tylenol, panadol or ibuprofen. Usually, physicians prescribe a medication that is a combination of analgesic with other substances in order to increase its effects.

In order to relieve anxiety, abortive treatments also involve the usage of anti-inflammatory drugs known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs that include naprosyn, anaprox, ponstel, meclomen, tolectin, and toradol which are helpful in treating headaches.

Although NSAIDs are used both symptomatically and prophylactically, experts warn future users that these may lead to side effects like gastrointestinal pains and disorder like diarrhea or constipation along with nausea or dizziness.