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What Is The Best Treatment For Chronic Migraines

What Are The Symptoms Of A Migraine

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Individual migraines are moderate to severe in intensity, often characterized by a throbbing or pounding feeling. Although they are frequently one-sided, they may occur anywhere on the head, neck and face or all over. At their worst, they are typically associated with sensitivity to light, noise and/or smells. Nausea is one of the most common symptoms and it worsens with activity, which often results in patient disability. In many respects, migraines are much like alcohol-related hangovers.

Migraine pain can be felt in the face, where it may be mistaken for sinus headache or in the neck, where it may be mistaken for arthritis or muscle spasm. Complicating the diagnosis of migraine is that the headaches may be accompanied by other “sinus like” symptoms, including watering eyes, nasal congestion and a sense of facial pressure. Most patients who think they have sinus headache in fact have migraines.

In up to 25 percent of patients, the migraine headache pain may be preceded by an aura, a temporary neurological syndrome that slowly progresses and then typically resolves just as the pain begins. While the most common type of migraine aura involves visual disturbances , many people experience numbness, confusion, trouble speaking, vertigo and other strokelike neurological symptoms. Some patients may experience auras without headaches.

Common Causes Of Headaches

The best way to get rid of a headache quickly may depend on whats causing it and what type of headache it is. A primary headache is caused by overactivity or problems with the pain-sensitive structures in your head, according to the Mayo Clinic. Common types of primary headaches include migraine attacks and tension headaches.

A less common type of primary headache is a cluster headache, which comes on suddenly, almost always affects only one side of the head, and is accompanied by a runny nose and tearing eye on the same side of the head as the headache. The pain of a cluster headache is severe and lasts from 15 minutes to 3 hours, when untreated. For most people, cluster headaches occur in a series, or in clusters, lasting weeks or months, separated by remission periods of months or years.

A secondary headache is a symptom of a disease that can trigger pain-sensitive nerves in the head. There are many conditions that can cause a secondary headache, from a sinus infection to a brain aneurysm to hangovers to COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

While a hangover or a headache caused by a sinus infection or by COVID-19 may respond to the same pain-relieving treatments as a tension headache, a brain aneurysm, or other severe headaches associated with neurologic changes such as weakness or loss of consciousness, for example, are medical emergencies that you shouldnt attempt to treat on your own.

Remedies To Get Rid Of Headaches Naturally

Headaches are a common condition that many people deal with on a daily basis.

Ranging from uncomfortable to downright unbearable, they can disrupt your day-to-day life.

Several types of headaches exist, with tension headaches being the most common. Cluster headaches are painful and happen in groups or clusters, while migraines are a moderate-to-severe type of headache.

Although many medications are targeted at relieving headache symptoms, a number of effective, natural treatments also exist.

Here are 18 effective home remedies to naturally get rid of headaches.

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What Are Some Tips For Living With Chronic Migraine

Chronic migraine, even more than episodic migraine, is something you really have to come at from every single angle that you can: lifestyle approaches, behavioral approaches, and very aggressive therapeutic approaches â pharmaceutical or nonpharmaceutical. It requires trying to chip away at it from every single angle that you can, to try to revert back to a pattern of less frequent attacks.

When you’re having migraine attacks that frequently, it can put you into a fairly hopeless state, so it becomes important to understand that progress in research and development is being made â that some of the newer treatments are highly effective for chronic migraine. So try to understand, while you’re in a really bad spot, that there’s absolutely hope that you can come out of it and to return to a much higher level of function in the future.

Finally, when you’re having frequent migraine attacks, it takes you out of your ability to sleep regularly, eat regularly, and have regular exercise. Exercise is a really tough one, because one often feels that the exercise is exacerbating the problem when, in fact, maintaining some level of activity is critically important.

What Are The Symptoms Of Chronic Migraine

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Symptoms of episodic migraine and chronic migraine are the same. The difference is simply the increase in frequency of the number of headaches. Typical migraine symptoms include:

  • Head pain that is moderate to severe in intensity, worsened by physical activity/movement
  • Pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Throbbing pain or pressure-like pain
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, smells
  • Nausea/vomiting

Signs an episodic migraine is transforming to a chronic migraine include:

  • Having a growing number of migraine attacks
  • Taking more medication because of the growing number of attacks

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What Is Migraine Exactly

You may think of a migraine as a really bad headachebut the pain that accompanies it is far more severe. Migraine is actually a neurological disease. During an attack, groups of your brain cells become overactive, your blood vessels narrow, and blow flow to your brain shifts, which may contribute to the onset of symptoms, per Johns Hopkins Medicine. To be diagnosed, you have to experience the attacks repeatedly, which means having at least five excruciating headaches lasting 4 to 72 hours each per month, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Migraine has specific hallmarks to distinguish it from everyday headaches: The pain usually throbs, pounds, and/or pulses . This is usually accompanied by an upset stomach, nausea, or vomiting, which gets worse with physical activity. Migraine can also cause sensitivity to light, noise, and smells.

Migraine headaches can be brought on by triggers and these can vary wildlyanything from specific foods to stress to dehydration can spur an attack. However, not all migraine episodes have triggers, and if they do, you might not know what your individual triggers are. The headaches often feel dull and achy when they begin and gradually become more severe, eventually causing intense, throbbing pain. At their worst, migraine can make your whole head, face, jaw, and neck pulsate with pain.

Could That Headache Be Unrelated To The Pandemic

Headaches are part of life. Statistically, 3 out of 4 adults across the world will deal with a pain in their head at some point this year. Another fact? There are more than 150 different kinds of headaches.

So that headache thats making you rub your temples may not be connected to a recent bout with COVID-19 or a sign that you contracted the coronavirus.

It could be linked to allergies or stress or the weather or even certain food and drinks.

If you have a headache alone in absence of any other symptoms, its probably unrelated to COVID-19, says Dr. Estemalik. But always stay on top of your symptoms and when in doubt see your doctor.

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Do Any Home Remedies To Treat Migraine Work

You cant relieve a migraine attack instantlyif only! But many people use home remedies in addition to their OTC or prescription medications to help make the pain more manageable.

Its important to have a plan in place, even when you dont have a migraine headache. This can just outline what youll do whenever you feel one coming on because early management can help squash your symptoms before they become debilitating. Keeping your medication handy in multiple places can be invaluable. Then consider trying these pain relief strategies:

  • Rest in a dark, quiet room. This can be beneficial because movement, light, and sound can be particularly unpleasant when youre in the throes of a migraine attack.
  • Treat it like an injury. Applying a cool compress can help numb the pain in your head, Dr. Csere says: But some people prefer warmth, so if youve tried cool compresses and it doesnt help, warm ones may. Thats because warm temperatures may help relax tense muscles in the head, neck, or shoulders, easing any pain that may be associated with that tension.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Becoming dehydrated can make you feel much worse.

What Causes Chronic Tension Headache

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This condition tends to develop in people who start off with having tension headaches with increasing frequency, until they occur on most days. However, the cause of the tension headaches is not always clear, and may be more than one thing. They may be due to tension in the muscles at the back of the head and neck, but it is now clear that this is not always the cause. Other causes reported by patients include stress, tiredness, hunger and eye strain. Many chronic tension headaches develop for no apparent reason. Working long hours bent over a computer may trigger them.

Some people get tension headaches if they drink too much caffeine or alcohol, if they don’t drink enough water or if they go for a long time between meals and become tired and hungry. Occasionally, tension headaches can be caused by poor vision, particularly if reading in low light for long periods. Some may be triggered by environmental discomforts such as heat, cold, brightness or wind.

Some research suggests that your genetic make-up may be a factor. This means that some people may inherit a tendency to be more prone to develop tension headaches than others when stressed or anxious.

Note: medication-overuse headache can be similar to chronic tension headache.

Medication-overuse headache is caused by taking painkillers too often for tension headaches or migraine attacks. See the separate leaflet called Medication-overuse Headache .

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Chronic Migraine And Pain Management

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Speaking as a caregiver for someone who has suffered about 10 years living with chronic migraine, I have seen actions, or more to the point, inaction from more doctors than I care to count.

It makes me question the oath doctors take when they begin their careers. There seems to be a philosophy that since there is no clear cut diagnosis or specific set of medically testable or provable things that cause some individuals migraines, then either the patients are making it all up, or that it simply cannot be as bad as they would lead the doctors to believe. This thinking leads to problems for the patient.

What Are The Triggers For Migraine

People living with migraine disease have triggers that cause migraine attacks. Learning what triggers your migraine attacks and finding ways to avoid or reduce these triggers is an important part of managing migraine disease. There are many different trigger factors that may start a migraine attack or episode. Keeping a diary of when you have a migraine episode and what may have started it is a useful way to work out your triggers.

Triggers can include one or more of the following:

Some foods such as chocolate, brown vinegar, cheese, citrus fruits, onions and MSG can be a trigger for some people. Food may be considered a trigger for a migraine episode if an attack occurs within 6 hours of eating and you don’t get migraine attacks when you don’t eat that food.

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Chronic Migraine And Doctor Selection

Because chronic Migraine is more difficult to treat and manage than episodic Migraine, it can be especially important to work with a doctor who understands the disease as well as possible and has the experience and continuing medical education needed to provide as much assistance as possible. This is a time when it’s important to remember that neurologists aren’t necessarily Migraine specialists, and Migraine specialists aren’t necessarily neurologists.

Finding The Right Treatment Options For Cluster Headache

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Dr. Tepper has one important piece of advice for patients living with cluster headache: Get to a headache specialist. Most cluster patients we can treat, he says. A headache specialist can help you determine the best course of treatment for your symptoms and your lifestyle.

While cluster headache experiences can vary, in most cases it can be successfully treated by individualizing acute and preventive drug treatment. A full treatment plan might include a temporary medication bridge to provide initial relief with steroids, as well as daily preventive medication to help avoid attacks during these weeks-long cycles.

Its important to note that only sumatriptan and dihydroergotamine injections are FDA-approved for acute treatment of CH, while galcanezumab is approved for the prevention of episodic cluster. The FDA has approved a portable device without significant side effectsthe non-invasive vagal nerve stimulatorfor the acute headache attacks and preventative treatment of episodic cluster headache attacks. This device is now commercially available with a prescription.

It is important to work with your doctor to arrive at the treatment plan thats right for you. Read on to see some of the available treatment options that you might find in your plan.

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Can I Prevent Chronic Migraines

Taking care of yourself every day may prevent your migraines from turning into a long-term problem. For instance:

Catch some ZZZs. Not getting enough sleep can trigger a migraine. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of rest each night.

Watch your diet. While caffeine can soothe your pain, stopping it suddenly is a common cause of migraine. Other common food triggers include MSG , nitrates in cured meats like hot dogs, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol.

Manage your stress. Tension and worry are common triggers. Try to carve out a few minutes each day to do something you love, or learn to breathe deeply when youâre in the midst of a crisis. You might join a support group or talk to a counselor.

Have a meal plan. Fasting and skipping meals can trigger headaches. Try to eat around the same times each day.

Get moving. Exercise is a good way to ease your anxiety and stress. It can also help you get to, and stay at, a healthy weight. Since obesity raises your risk of chronic migraines, getting in shape is crucial.

Know your triggers. Not all migraines result from triggers. But if yours do, that set of triggers is unique to you. To learn what yours are, keep a headache diary. Each time you have an attack, write down details about what you were doing, how long the headache lasted, and how you felt before it started. This will help you begin to notice patterns — and avoid your triggers.

Migraine Research Foundation: âMigraine Facts,â âThe Impact of Hormones.â

If My Headache Isn’t Going Away Should I Get Tested For Coronavirus

Headache is one of the symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . A February 2020 report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19, from early in the pandemic, found that of 55,924 people confirmed to have the disease, 13.6 percent had a headache.

Theres no treatment for COVID-19, but the same OTC pain relievers that help with other types of headaches may alleviate headaches caused by this disease. does not recommend against the use of ibuprofen for people with COVID-19.)

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, the CDC recommends calling your state or local health department or a medical provider. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and are able to recover at home, the CDC notes.

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The Catch 22 Of Pain Management

Neurologists here in Texas all seem to be one-trick ponies. One will only use Botox. One will do no treatment other than trigger point injections, . Insurance companies dont like to cover nerve blocking treatments, so doctors found a way to beat the system by calling it something else so that it can be covered.

Other doctors will only work by surgically implanting electrical wires subcutaneously on the skull. Otherwise known as a STEM. The one thing all of these different doctors have in common is that, once they are satisfied that their one trick did not work, they want to refer you to a Pain Management’ clinic.

I have taken my wife now to three different pain management clinics in the last 5 years. The one thing each of them had in common was that not one of them prescribed medication for pain. They are also one-trick ponies. Their trick is to throw anti-depressants at the patient because some idiot somewhere along the way decided that was a useful treatment for incapacitating pain.

Treating The Cause: Diary

Are there any new treatments for migraines?

It may help to keep a diary if you have frequent headaches. Note when, where, and how bad each headache is, and how long each headache lasts. Also note anything that may have caused it. A pattern may emerge and you may find a trigger to avoid. For example, hunger, eye strain, bad posture, stress, anger, etc.

Some doctors suggest reviewing your diet. The list of foods which can be triggers in some people includes caffeinated drinks, chocolate, cheese and alcohol. Other doctors suggest focusing on a healthy balanced diet, with a good mixture of slow-release energy foods and a low intake of refined sugars.

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