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October 2007
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December 2007

Migraine and Headaches - 10 Tips for Enjoying the Holidays

Holidays are times to enjoy, but those of us with problem Migraines and headaches can find ourselves actually dreading the holiday season. Ho ho ho, HA!

Don't give up on the holidays though. If there's a positive side to Migraine disease and headaches, it's that there are many things we can do for ourselves to reduce or avoid episodes. Not only does this let us reduce our pain, it also gives us some control over our disorders and restores some of the control over our lives of which those disorders seem to rob us. Let’s see how to give some of that head pain the boot!

1. Get those ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZs!

Too much, too little, or disrupted sleep is a very common Migraine and headache trigger. Experts recommend that we set times to go to bed and get up and stick to those times, even on weekends and holidays and during vacation. If you often wake with a Migraine, don’t feel rested after a night’s sleep, or experience excessive daytime sleepiness, talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns.
More: Transformed Migraine Related To Sleep Problems

2. Avoid dehydration.

For some people, even mild dehydration can trigger head pain, so drinking lots of fluids is essential. Take a bit of care with what you’re drinking as some fruit juices and caffeine can be triggers. Proper hydration is essential to good health in general, so you’ll be working on more than head pain prevention!


Cortex Area of Brain Thicker in People with Migraine

A study published in the November 20, 2007, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, indicates that people with Migraines have differences in part of the cortex, an area of the brain that helps process sensory information, including pain.

The study found that part of the cortex area of the brain is thicker in people with Migraine than in people who do not have the neurological disease.

“Repeated Migraine attacks may lead to, or be the result of, these structural changes in the brain... Most of these people had been suffering from Migraines since childhood, so the long-term overstimulation of the sensory fields in the cortex could explain these changes. It’s also possible that people who develop Migraines are naturally more sensitive to stimulation...

This may explain why people with Migraines often also have other pain disorders such as back pain, jaw pain, and other sensory problems such as allodynia, where the skin becomes so sensitive that even a gentle breeze can be painful.”

study author Nouchine Hadjikhani, MD
Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging
at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston

 

Migraine disease, for some Migraineurs, means only occasional and easily treated Migraine attacks. For others, Migraine is a life-long chronic disease, and Migraine attacks have a quit significant impact on their lives. Questions abound about whether Migraine attacks cause serious and /or permanent changes in the brain...

Learn more about this important study in Cortex Area of Brain Thicker in People with Migraine.


Headache Stay Gone for Headaches and Migraines - Beware

For those of you who know me a bit, you'll know that the phone number 888-MYCURE8 is enough to set alarm bells sounding loudly in my head. The product associated with this phone number has been the subject of three SharePosts on our site, and it's time for me to respond.

The product in question here is Headache Stay Gone. (And, no, I will not link to their site here.) According to the site, the product  contains:

  • rosemary
  • peppermint
  • ginger mint
  • blue vervain
  • slippery elm
  • meadowsweet
  • nettles
  • basil
  • hops
  • white willow bark
  • bioflavinoids

It is stated on the site that "Headache Stay Gone is affordable and free from side effects." Free from side effects? That is truly just impossible. These ingredients certainly do have potential side effects. I'm not going to take the time to track down every ingredient, but here are some potential side effects and notes of caution for some of them...

Continue reading Headache Stay Gone for Headaches and Migraines - Beware.


Resilience To Stress Plays Role in Depression

Migraine and depression are often comorbid diseases -- that means that people have them simultaneously, but neither causes the other. In the general population, 17% experience major depressive disorder. Among Migraineurs, that jumps to 47%. Given that, Migraineurs are often also interested in information about depression.

Researchers are making great progress in better understanding depression, including what causes it. This kind of research gives us more hope for better treatments...

"An individual's emotional response to severe, acute stress (e.g., trauma, terrorist acts) or to more prolonged chronic stress (e.g., divorce, war-time torture) is determined by genetic and environmental elements that interact in complex and poorly understood ways... A majority of humans exposed to stressful events do not show signs of psychopathology such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression... However, the neural substrates and molecular mechanisms that mediate resistance to the deleterious effects of stress remain unknown."

~ Krishnan et al

Results of a new study reported in the journal Cell may lead scientists along the path toward learning how to enhance a naturally occurring mechanism in the brain that promotes resilience to psychological stress. Studying a mouse model, researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) found that the ability to adapt to stress is driven by a distinctly different molecular mechanism than the tendency to be overwhelmed by stress. The researchers mapped out the mechanisms — components of which also are present in the human brain — that govern both kinds of responses.

 

Read more in Resilience To Stress Plays Role in Depression.    


Transformed Migraine Related To Sleep Problems

Although sleep issues have been linked with headaches and Migraine for more than 100 years, information about the types and prevalence of specific sleep problems in adults with transformed Migraine (TM) has been scarce.

Now the findings have been published on a study to look at the connection between nonrestorative sleep and TM. The study was conducted at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, led by Dr. Anne Calhoun.

Continue reading Transformed Migraine Related To Sleep


Namenda for Migraine and Chronic Headache Prevention

There are no medications available that were developed for the purpose of Migraine and headache prevention. However, there are over 100 medications that are now successfully being used for that purpose. We now have both anecdotal and clinical evidence that Namenda can be effective in the prevention of Migraine and headache.

Namenda (memantine HCL, Forest Pharmaceuticals) was approved for use in the United States in October, 2003, more than a decade after its use began in Europe under the brand names Ebixa and Axura. It's classified as an orally active NMDA receptor antagonist. Namenda (memantine hydrochloride) is approved for the treatment of "moderate to severe dementia of the Alzheimer's type."

Continue Reading Namenda for Migraine and Chronic Headache Prevention.


Headache On the Hill Update - Your Help and the Future

Many of you have asked to be kept up-to-date on Headache on the Hill. For those of you who don't know, a group of headache and Migraine specialists made a trip to DC in November to talk with Senators and members of the House about the dire need for an increase in NIH funding for basic headache and Migraine research.

These dedicated doctors took a minimum of two days away from their busy practices and covered all their own expenses to go to bat for funding that is critical to better treatments and perhaps even an eventual cure for Migraine disease. Michael John Coleman of MAGNUM, Suzanne Simons of the NHF, and I were invited to join these doctors for the first annual Headache on the Hill initiative.

Dr. William B. Young of the Jefferson Headache Center and I have been asked to put together the grassroots patient part of this initiative. Early next year, we'll be asking all of you to email your Senators and members of the House regarding this issue. We're building a special Web site where you'll be able to easily and quickly put together powerful emails to send directly from the site.

There are several major organizations endorsing this initiative -- The American Headache Society, the American Academy of Neurology, the International Headache Society, The NHF, MAGNUM, the World Health Organization, and others. We are forming a nonprofit group, the Alliance for Headache Advocacy, to continue with this work. This new group has no funding of it's own, and members are currently engaged in searching for corporate funding to cover the expenses of the software for emailing members of Congress and other necessities. That is where the majority of the funding will need to be obtained. Still, if you would like to make a small donation, you can click the "Donate" button below. That will take you to a page to donate to the American Headache Society. On the page that allows you to designate a purpose for your donation, please specify "Headache on the Hill." Believe me, every dollar counts and is greatly appreciated.

 

Stay tuned for further updates!