All of us suffer from an occasional headache; in fact, 20 million Americans see their doctors each year because of headaches. Headaches are also the leading cause for missing school and work in this country.
There are many different types of headaches ranging from just ordinary pain, to pain associated with a disorder or serious medical condition.
I”d like to discuss the worst type of headache. The type of headache I”d like to discuss, the Migraine, although intense in its pain, is not associated with a medical condition or injury. The Migraine is a recurring throbbing headache, affecting only one side of the head and often accompanied by many symptoms. Although many people use the word “Migraine” to describe any severe headache, this is not correct. Migraines are a specific headache caused by changes in the blood vessels that supply the brain.
Usually, Migraines become less frequent with increasing age and are relatively uncommon after the age of 50. After interviewing my grandmother, who is a special case Migraine sufferer, she told me that her Migraines began when she was seven. Often in school she would have the classic migraine symptoms- she would see only half of her teacher and bright lights and flashes up to 20 minutes before her Migraine began. These symptoms are called auras and once they are gone the Migraine begins. The Migraine itself can lead to vomiting, slurred speech, makes the sufferer sensitive to light and worsens when there is a lot of noise.
The mechanism is not completely understood, but many women have their most severe attacks during or just before their menstrual period. This is supposedly due to the hormonal imbalance during that time.
So, what can we do to prevent Migraines?
Because Migraine headaches can recur for years and medication may lead to side effects and rebound headaches prevention is the key aspect in the management of migraines.
Pay close attention to your diet. See if avoiding certain foods can prevent a migraine. The three C”s- Cheese, chocolate and citrus are the most common foods which trigger migraines.
I”d like to discuss sleep habits. While it”s important to get enough rest, avoid oversleeping as well. It”s best to go to bed and get up at about the same time each day, since this helps to regulate and stabilize the brain”s important biological clocks. To make up for loss of sleep after a late night, rest or nap later in the day if necessary.
Has anyone ever read the ingredients of Excedrin? Well if you have you”d have noticed that Excedrin”s three active ingredients are: Acetaminophen (which is Tylenol), Asprin and surprisingly enough, Caffeine. I remember a day last year around the time that we had finals, when my sister, I”m not just blaming her, it was really her fault, bought these pills named Vivavrin. As soon as I took one of these pills my head began to throb and I, who have a long family history of migraines, received one.
Now, if Caffeine triggers Migraines, why would a Migraine medicine contain Caffeine to relieve them? Caffeine is a stimulant and can speed up the heart, raise blood pressure and interfere with relaxation. Caffeine is not a good thing to take when you don”t have a headache. Strangely enough, once a headache has begun, Caffeine can be helpful. This is because Caffeine is an adjuvant- it enhances and quickens the effects of pain medicine. That is why it is added to many over-the-counter medications including Excedrin to treat headache pain.
To conclude, a person must pay close attention to his organism. With the first symptoms of a severe headache, it is best to consult a doctor who will conduct tests and establish a valid reason for the pain.