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By Dr. Todd Fife
Seeley-Swan Medical Center, Partnership Health Center 

Migraines

Health Happens

 

September 7, 2017

Photo provided

Dr. Todd Fife

Having a headache is no picnic, in fact, these things can be quite debilitating. People get headaches for all kinds of reasons. Sore muscles, a bad neck or just a stressful life often causes tension headaches. Another type of headache that frequents the unlucky person is a migraine. It's not unusual for a person to be entirely disabled with a migraine-and they can be tricky to get rid of.

How do you know if your headache is a migraine? For people who suffer from them, it's probably a silly question. Trust me they know.

As a general rule, a migraine is a very intense headache, usually one sided and accompanied by photophobia (light makes it hurt worse), nausea and often vomiting. Sounds real fun doesn't it? These things can last several hours to several days and can even come every couple of days.

Often a migraine is preceded by an aura (like a warning sign) which may include visual phenomena such as seeing flashing lights or bright spots, vision changes or loss, feelings of pins and needles or hearing noises.

There are treatments for migraines, thank goodness, though it may not always be effective. Treatment can be either abortive (stop a headache once it comes) or preventative (helps keep the headache from coming). There are a few good medications that help prevent headaches and recently some procedures as well (such as regularly scheduled Botox injections).

Medications are not the only answer. Often people will know their trigger and can work to avoid these situations. Triggers vary from person to person but it is not uncommon for fluorescent lights to trigger a migraine, dehydration or even just getting fatigued.

Talk with your healthcare provider about options that may work for you.

Now, a word of caution regarding headaches, some headaches are a warning sign of something serious, so pay attention to those headaches that: are abrupt or severe like a thunderclap, a headache associated with a fever and stiff neck, seizures, weakness, numbness or trouble speaking, a headache after an injury-especially if the headache gets worse; or a new onset of headache after the age of 50.

Like most things with your health; use common sense, stick to good information (I like mayoclinic.org), and talk to your provider if you still have questions.

May you enjoy good health, mild (if any) headaches, and as always, see you at the clinic.

 

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