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Why Are Some Migraines Worse Than Others

When To Contact A Medical Professional

What Really Causes a Migraine?
  • You are experiencing “the worst headache of your life.”
  • You have speech, vision, or movement problems or loss of balance, especially if you have not had these symptoms with a migraine before.
  • A headache starts suddenly.

Schedule an appointment or call your provider if:

  • Your headache pattern or pain changes.
  • Treatments that once worked no longer help.
  • You have side effects from your medicine.
  • You are taking birth control pills and have migraine headaches.
  • Your headaches are more severe when lying down.

When To Call The Doctor

  • A change in migraine features, how often a migraine happens, or how severe it is
  • A headache that lasts days, getting worse as it goes
  • A headache brought on by coughing, sneezing, bearing down, or straining while on the toilet
  • The worst headache youâve ever had, especially if it started very quickly

Why Do Some People Get Worse Colds Than Others

What is a ‘common cold’, why do some people seem to be more susceptible than others, and what practical steps can you take to protect yourself against infection this winter? We ask a cold expert and a paediatrician for their advice.

Reviewed byDr Sarah Jarvis MBE
06-Dec-18·6 mins read

For something so ubiquitous, especially during the winter months, the common cold is notoriously difficult to define, even among medical experts.

On the one hand it can be identified as a set of recognisable symptoms – blocked and runny nose, sore throat – perhaps combined with some systemic indicators such as fever, particularly in children.

On the other hand, the common cold can also be defined in terms of infection caused by a range of respiratory viruses, of which the rhinovirus is the most widespread. Other viruses such as flu can also cause typical common cold symptoms.

“The term common cold is not a strict medical term,” explains Dr Ron Eccles, Emeritus Professor at Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences. “The majority of respiratory viral infections are described as subclinical – meaning without symptoms – so, for example, someone could have an infection caused by the rhinovirus, but they wouldn’t know they had it.

“Similarly, when the influenza virus goes through the community, a lot of people are affected, yet they don’t necessarily develop any symptoms.

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How To Prevent Migraines Caused By The Weather

While you cant control the weather, you can control other potential triggers, says Dr. Crystal. For some people with migraine, it takes a perfect stormpun intendedto trigger an attack. So, she says, if you know your particular weather trigger, make sure to optimize other conditions. For example, if youre worried about a brewing storm, make sure to avoid your known food triggers, get plenty of rest, and practice stress reduction. And of course, make sure to have your medications on hand.

Moreover, tracking weather can be helpful. I recommend using the WeatherX app, says Dr. Crystal. Once you establish a relationship between weather and your migraines, she says, you can potentially pre-treat with an anti-inflammatory medication.

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Why Some Fats Are Worse Than Others

Migraines: More than A Bad Headache
University of Chicago Press Journals
All dietary fats are not created equal. Some types of fats have been linked to ailments like heart disease and diabetes, while others, like those often found in plants and fish, have well documented health benefits. So why do our bodies respond so destructively to some fats but not others?

All dietary fats are not created equal. Some types of fats have been linked to ailments like heart disease and diabetes, while others, like those often found in plants and fish, have well documented health benefits.

So why do our bodies respond so destructively to some fats but not others?

A new hypothesis described in latest issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology suggests the answer may lie in how different fats interact with the microbes in our guts. According to researchers from the University of New Mexico and Northwestern University, some fats may encourage the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive system. Our bodies have evolved to recognize those fats and launch an immune response to preempt the impeding changes in harmful bacteria. The result is low-level inflammation that, over the long term, causes chronic disease.

“Although the inflammatory effects of are well documented, it is less well appreciated that they also influence bacterial survival and proliferation in the gastrointestinal tract,” write the researchers, led by Joe Alcock, of the University of New Mexico Department of Emergency Medicine and VA Medical Center.

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Stroke Can Cause A Headache

It may not always be possible to distinguish the pain of a headache caused by stroke from a tension-type headache or a migraine attack. Usually, a headache caused by stroke happens suddenly and abruptly, while a migraine attack has a slower, more gradual onset, usually stretched over several hours.

In addition, stroke generally causes negative symptoms, indicating loss of neurologic function, such as weakness, numbness, slurred speech, and blindness. Migraine, on the other hand, often produces symptoms such as bright flashing lights, spots, or zigzags in a persons field of vision and the perception of hearing sounds like buzzing or music.

But some migraine symptoms can resemble those of stroke. For example, a person who has migraine with aura may experience loss of sight for short periods tingling and numbness in the face, hands, or other areas of the body and speech and language problems such as being unable to say words, slurring, or mumbling during a migraine attack.

A person with familial or sporadic hemiplegic migraine may have the same symptoms as those that occur in migraine with aura as well as motor, or muscle, weakness on one side of the body.

In very rare cases, a migraine attack can lead to stroke.

A stroke requires immediate treatment for the best chance of recovery, so anyone experiencing symptoms of stroke should get to a hospital emergency department as quickly as possible.

RELATED: What You Need to Know About Migraine and Stroke

What Does Neuropathic Pain Feel Like

Those who have neuropathic pain say it impacts physical and mental health.

Many patients say pain relief with current drug treatments doesnt relieve it.

Symptoms may vary from person to person but common ones include:

  • Shooting, burning, or stabbing pain.
  • Tingling and numbness, or a pins and needles feeling.
  • Spontaneous pain, or pain that occurs without a trigger.

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What Is Alice In Wonderland Syndrome

This is a rare form of migraine aura that causes distortions in perception. Someone with this condition might feel as if her body is getting smaller, then larger, or might find that time seems to speed up or slow down. Children experience this syndrome more than adults, but it can occur in people of any age.

Approach To Acute Headache In Adults

What Is a Migraine Headache?

BARRY L. HAINER, MD, and ERIC M. MATHESON, MD, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina

Am Fam Physician. 2013 May 15 87:682-687.

Approximately one-half of the adult population worldwide is affected by a headache disorder. The International Headache Society classification and diagnostic criteria can help physicians differentiate primary headaches from secondary headaches . A thorough history and physical examination, and an understanding of the typical features of primary headaches, can reduce the need for neuroimaging, lumbar puncture, or other studies. Some red flag signs and symptoms identified in the history or during a physical examination can indicate serious underlying pathology and will require neuroimaging or other testing to evaluate the cause of headache. Red flag signs and symptoms include focal neurologic signs, papilledema, neck stiffness, an immunocompromised state, sudden onset of the worst headache in the patient’s life, personality changes, headache after trauma, and headache that is worse with exercise. If an intracranial hemorrhage is suspected, head computed tomography without contrast media is recommended. For most other dangerous causes of headache, magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography is acceptable.



International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd ed.

Primary headaches

Primary headaches

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Experts Reveal The Reasons Some People Are More Prone To The After

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Recently, a friend uttered a statement that made me gasp in belief.

I quite like being hungover, she said. We were walking round a park and I was feeling the effects of one too many glasses of wine the night before. I was definitely not enjoying being hungover that day. In fact, I never enjoy being hungover.

Why is it, I wondered, that some people can knock back endless pints and still only get the kind of mild, sleepy hangovers that can be easily alleviated with junk food and trash TV, while others myself included suffer debilitating headaches and nausea after just a few vinos?

Its a question that many people will be pondering as the reopening of pubs, bars and restaurants leads to an increase in sore heads and upset stomachs. In a bid to get to the bottom of this age-old quandry, I asked experts to explain the factors that influence hangover severity.

Drinking behaviours

Drinking behaviours is the obvious starting point when it comes to why some people get a hangover, versus others, says Dr Sanjay Mehta, GP at the London General Practice. People who drink on an empty stomach, drink when theyre very poorly hydrated, drink with other drugs like nicotine, for example or drink when theyre on medication that can impact the way alcohol is broken down.

What you drink





Health conditions

Mental health

Acephalgic Or Silent Migraine

Simply put, an acephalgic or “silent” migraine is a migraine with many classic migraine symptoms, minus the characteristic headache. It’s possible for some or all of your migraine attacks to manifest this way.

The most common symptoms of silent migraines are vision problems and alterations in color perception. Silent migraines are more common in people over 50 and are sometimes misdiagnosed as a stroke.

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What Medicines Help Relieve Migraine Pain

For mild to moderate migraines, over-the-counter medicines that may help relieve migraine pain include:

  • aspirin
  • acetaminophen
  • an acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine combination
  • ibuprofen
  • naproxen
  • ketoprofen

People who have more severe migraines may need to try abortive prescription medicines. A medicine called ergotamine can be effective alone or combined with other medicines. Dihydroergotamine is related to ergotamine and can be helpful. Other prescription medicines for migraines include sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, eletriptan, and frovatriptan.

If the pain wont go away, stronger pain medicine may be needed, such as a narcotic, or medicines that contain a barbiturate . These medicines can be habit-forming and should be used cautiously. Your doctor may prescribe these only if they are needed and only for a short period of time.

When To Seek Medical Attention

5 Common Questions about Migraines

While any migraine is unwanted, some are more dangerous than others. To ensure your good health, seek immediate medical attention if you experience a migraine that is:

  • Worse than any migraine youve ever had
  • Causes you to pass out, vomit uncontrollably or lose your vision for a prolonged period
  • Lasts longer than three days with fewer than four continuous hours of relief

If you battle migraines, a University of Maryland Medical System neurologist can help ease your pain.

Find a neurologist that can help you.

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What Causes Migraines

Doctors dont know exactly what causes migraines. It appears that migraine headaches may be caused in part by changes in the level of a body chemical called serotonin. Serotonin plays many roles in the body, and it can have an effect on the blood vessels. When serotonin levels are high, blood vessels constrict . When serotonin levels fall, the blood vessels dilate . This swelling can cause pain or other problems. Another aspect that is being studied is that migraine headaches go along with a spreading pattern of electrical activity in the brain.

Some research suggests there could be a heredity factor for migraines, meaning they may run in families. Researchers have identified some genes associated with migraines. They are unsure, though, why these genes seem to impact some people more than others. The American Migraine Foundation reports that if one of your parents has migraines, there is a 50% chance that you will, too. If both of your parents have migraines, your chances jump up to 75%. Ultimately, migraines seem to be caused by a combination of factors: genetic, environmental, and lifestyle.

Women are more likely to have chronic migraines . This is likely linked to hormones. Hormones fluctuate each month around the time of your period. They can also fluctuate if you are pregnant or going through menopause.

What’s Not A Migraine

If none of these descriptions seem quite right, itâs possible your headaches might be something besides migraines. Other common types of headaches are:

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are the most common headaches for adults.

  • The pain is typically less severe than in migraines, more of an ache than a throbbing pain.
  • They affect both sides of your head.
  • They donât usually hurt as badly as migraines.
  • They donât get worse when youâre active.
  • They donât cause symptoms like sensitivity to light and sound, or nausea.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches cause extreme head pain, but, unlike migraines, they appear up to eight times per day in bursts of weeks or months and feel more like stabbing pain, than throbbing.

Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches are caused by a sinus infection and are rare. The National Headache Foundation notes that people often think they have sinus headaches when they actually have migraines.

Post-Traumatic Headaches

According to the American Migraine Foundation, post-traumatic headaches happen after a traumatic injury, and can cause symptoms that mimic migraines, like severe throbbing pain that gets worse if you move around, nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. It typically ends within a few months but can become âpersistentâ and last longer, especially if you have a family history of or already suffer from migraines.

New Daily Persistent Headaches

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How Can I Feel Better

Most headaches will go away if a person rests or sleeps. When you get a headache, lie down in a cool, dark, quiet room and close your eyes. It may help to put a cool, moist cloth across your forehead or eyes. Relax. Breathe easily and deeply.

If a headache doesn’t go away or it’s really bad, you may want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You can buy these in drugstores under various brand names, and your drugstore may carry its own generic brand. It’s a good idea to avoid taking aspirin for a headache because it may cause a rare but dangerous disease called Reye syndrome.

If you are taking over-the-counter pain medicines more than twice a week for headaches, or if you find these medicines are not working for you, talk to your doctor.

Most headaches are not a sign that something more is wrong. But if your headaches are intense and happen often, there are lots of things a doctor can do, from recommending changes in your diet to prescribing medicine. You don’t have to put up with the pain!

A Womans Menstrual Cycle May Trigger Migraine Attacks

Why some lightning strikes are worse than others

Often, migraine attacks coincide with a womans menstrual cycle. In fact, as many as 60 percent of women with migraine have attacks related to their menstrual cycle, according to the National Headache Foundation.

Migraine attacks can be triggered by changes in estrogen levels, and estrogen dips around the time that a woman starts her monthly period, according to Nada Hindiyeh, MD, a headache specialist and researcher at Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto, California.

They can be pretty severe, they can last several days, and they can be quite debilitating, says Dr. Hindiyeh.

Certain types of birth control pills, pain relievers, and migraine-specific medications may help with these headaches, she says. Theres also evidence that a magnesium supplement may help improve migraine, says Hindiyeh.

A meta-analysis published in Pain Physician, for example, found that oral magnesium significantly alleviated the frequency and intensity of migraine.

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How Are Migraines Diagnosed

Your doctor can diagnose migraines by the symptoms you describe. If the diagnosis is not clear, your doctor will perform a physical exam. Your doctor might want to do blood tests or imaging tests, such as an MRI or CAT scan of the brain. These tests can help ensure there are no other causes for the headache. You may also be asked to keep a headache journal. This can help your doctor identify the things that might cause your migraines.

If headache pain is getting in the way of your daily activities, its time to see your family doctor. Read More

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Antidepressants

Depression and migraines often go hand in hand, as mood changes are commonly associated with migraine attack, so much so that premonitory depression is sometimes shown to occur before a migraine, ostensibly warning the sufferer of an episode. Id say we deal with mood issues at least 50% of the time in migraine patients, maybe more, mentioned Dr. Charles in the summit interview. Luckily, if doctors find episodic periods of depression in migraine sufferers, they can test whether the mental complications disappear after acutely treating the migraine first.

While SSRI antidepressants, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, have been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression, their role in migraine is a long, rocky road. The current medical hypothesis is that a deficiency of serotonin is somehow involved in migraine triptans, prescription-strength migraine treatment, activate a set of serotonin receptors in the brain. One would think that SSRIs, which look to increase serotonin, would help migraine, but it is not as simple as high serotonin is good and low serotonin is bad, explained Dr. Charles. These drugs react differently in each patient, and may deliver the opposite effect intended, leading to migraine.

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