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Hill Country Health Blog


Migraine survival guide

Jan 31

Written by:
1/31/2016 11:43 AM  RssIcon

migraine brain graphic

Migraine headaches are painful and often debilitating. Symptoms of a migraine can include a pounding headache, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light.


Migraine headaches are painful and often debilitating. Symptoms of a migraine can include a pounding headache, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. 

Who is affected?

Interestingly, three out of four migraine sufferers are women although during puberty, teen boys have an increased chance of migraines. In general, migraines peak between age 35-40 and then taper off and weaken after that. Menopause might be an exception to that guideline.

Migraine triggers

•  Strong smells, like perfumes and detergents
• Hormonal changes during menstruation cycle or pregnancy
• Bright or fluorescent lights
• Stress or fatigue
• Too much or too little sleep
• Some medication
• Weather changes
 
Common food triggers might be aged cheese, processed meats, fermented foods like soy sauce and sauerkraut. Migraines can also be tied to caffeine, chocolate, MSG, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and meat with nitrites.
 

Treatment Options

Neurologist Dr. Bill Davis notes, “With simple lifestyle adjustments such as sleeping on a schedule, eating a healthy diet, eliminating caffeine and exercising regularly, people can help their headaches. If these approaches fail, then see a doctor or consult with a neurologist who has a special interest in headaches.”

There are two categories of medications: acute therapy and prevention therapy. Acute therapy can include simple over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen and caffeine-containing combination products. 

Prescription drugs called “triptans” are the most prescribed medications for acute migraine attacks. These drugs are very effective in treating severe head pain. These drugs should be avoided if there is a history of stroke, heart attack or peripheral vascular disease.

Prevention therapy is used for patients who have more frequent or severe headaches. These medications are taken daily to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. These drugs can include anti-seizure medications (topiramate, valproic acid), blood pressure medications (propranolol, metoprolol) and antidepressants (amitriptyline, venlafaxine). 

In 2010 Botox was approved for patients who suffer with what is called chronic migraine headaches. These are patients who suffer with a headache 15 or more days per month with most headaches lasting longer than 4 hours. Botox injected in a specific pattern over the forehead, scalp, neck and shoulders decreases the frequency and severity of headaches in most patients. 

Dr. Davis shares, “I have been injecting patients with Botox for chronic migraine headaches and other neurological diseases for over 15 years and have seen dramatic improvement in many patients.” 

Most patients with more severe headaches will require more than one treatment approach. This will include combinations of different medications, lifestyle modifications such as structured sleep patterns, eating habits (less caffeine) and stress management (exercise and meditation techniques).
 
Alternative treatments include biofeedback, herbs like butterbur and feverfew and vitamin B2, which can all help to decrease headaches and make them less painful. Some people also try massage, acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, and relaxation training to try to prevent or relieve pain. Sometimes a combination of medication and alternative therapy may work. Talk with your doctor about what might work for you.

attacks. These drugs are very effective in treating severe head pain. They  should be avoided if there is a history of stroke, heart attack or peripheral vascular disease.

Prevention Therapy

Prevention techniques are used for patients who have more frequent or severe headaches. These medications are taken daily to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. These drugs can include anti-seizure medications (topiramate, valproic acid), blood pressure medications (propranolol, metoprolol) and antidepressants (amitriptyline, venlafaxine). 

In 2010, Botox was approved for patients who suffer with chronic migraine headaches. These are patients who suffer with a headache 15 or more days per month with most headaches lasting longer than 4 hours. Botox injected in a specific pattern over the forehead, scalp, neck and shoulders decreases the frequency and severity of headaches in most patients. 

Dr. Davis shares, “I have been injecting patients with Botox for chronic migraine headaches and other neurological diseases for over 15 years and have seen dramatic improvement in many patients.” 

Most patients with more severe headaches will require more than one treatment approach. This will include combinations of different medications, lifestyle modifications such as structured sleep patterns, eating habits (less caffeine) and stress management through exercise or meditation techniques.

Alternative treatments include biofeedback, herbs like butterbur and feverfew and vitamin B2, which can all help to decrease headaches and make them less painful. Some people also try massage, acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, and relaxation training to try to prevent or relieve pain. 

Sometimes a combination of medication and alternative therapy may work. Talk with your doctor about what might work for you as you work to manage your migraines. 




Tips for Surviving Migraines


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Central Texas Medical Center
1301 Wonder World Drive
San Marcos, TX 78666
512.353.8979