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Headache

Headache (3)

18 Nov

What is a headache?
A headache is defined as an ache or pain in the head caused by irritation to the nerves around the face, neck, skull or head. A headache is often described as dull, throbbing, sharp and gradually or it can suddenly appear and can last for hours or days. The International Headache Society categories headaches two ways: primary and secondary.

What is a primary headache?
A primary headache is a headache that is considered a standalone illness. That means that the headache is caused by over activity and/or problems with structures in the head that are sensitive to pain. Common primary headaches include migraines, tension and cluster headaches.

What is a secondary headache?
A secondary headache is a headache that is a symptom of another condition. That means another condition causes the headache. For example, you may have a secondary headache if you are dehydrated, have influenza or have a concussion. In some cases, a secondary headache could be a result of a more serious condition.

What does episodic and chronic mean when it comes to headaches?
An episodic head means that the headache can last for a few hours but could last for a few days. Whereas a chronic headache is considered to be continuous, as in, they occur for 15 days or more in a month.

What are the symptoms of primary headaches?

  • Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headaches. A tensionheadache is often described as a tight band feeling around the head with a constant, dull ache on both sides of the head. The pain can spread to or from the neck.
  • Migraine headaches are the second most common type of primary headache. Migraine headaches may cause a pulsating, throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head. Other symptoms include lightheadedness, blurred vision, nausea and sensory disturbances.
  • Cluster headaches are the most uncommon type of primary headache. A cluster headache can typically strike quickly with little to no warning. Cluster headaches are described as sharp or burning, and typically are located around one eye. The affected area can become swollen and red.

If you experience headaches on a regular basis, it is important to seek help. Once you know what type of headache you are experiencing it is easier to understand your triggers and find treatment that works for you. To learn about headaches and possible treatments options, click here.

Sources:
What are headaches? What causes headaches?, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/73936.php#signs_and_symptoms

How to use this classification, http://ihs-classification.org/en/01_einleitung/03_anleitung/ 

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02 Nov

We all know that foods have the ability to impact pain levels. Some foods (and drinks) are linked to increased inflammation, for instance, while other foods can noticeably decrease it. It turns out, according to a recent report, that the things we consume are also linked to migraines. The new review found that there are several key foods to avoid – and several to include in your diet – if you want to steer clear of headaches.

Study Overview

The review, titled “Diet and Headache” was published in two parts in the publication Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain.[1] The researchers examined 180 research studies that dealt with the connection between diet and migraines. Although the role of diet in headache pain management is still a controversial topic in the headache field, the researchers note, their goals were to determine which foods are linked to the onset of headache pain and what a comprehensive, headache-reducing diet might look like.

Key Findings

One of the main items that was found to impact headaches was, in fact, caffeine. Both not consuming enough caffeine – aka caffeine withdrawal – and consuming too much caffeine were found to trigger headache symptoms. So if you’re a regular coffee consumer, try not to abruptly decrease your intake. But also be careful not to exceed 400 milligrams of caffeine a day (which comes out to a little over 3 cups), since that seems to be the maximum amount migraine sufferers can handle. Even if you’re not a regular migraine sufferer, it may be a good idea to cut back, since large amounts of caffeine have actually been shown to cause symptoms related to anxiety and depression.

MSG, a component in many processed foods, was another ingredient strongly linked to headaches. Limiting MSG is pretty simple; the FDA requires it to be listed on packaging as monosodium glutamate, so checking the labels of foods before you buy them could help you reduce it in your diet. It’s often found in things like Chinese food, salad dressing, snack foods, ketchup and barbecue sauce, among others. According to the review’s authors, it’s most likely to trigger an attack when it’s in a liquid, like soup.

Alcohol, especially red wine and vodka, may be problematic for some with headaches, although the researches note that there’s less evidence demonstrating this. Similarly, nitrates – preservatives in processed meats – may have the ability to trigger headaches in about 5% of people.

A Change in Diet

An elimination diet, in which you avoid foods and ingredients known to trigger headaches, is one approach to avoiding the onset of a migraine. The other is adopting a comprehensive diet, one that decreases the bad ingredients while upping the good. These include diets that are low in fat (where fat is less than 20% of the daily diet) and carbohydrates, in addition to those that increase omega-3 fatty acids (flaxseed, salmon, cod, scallops) while decreasing omega-6 fatty acids (vegetable oils, peanuts, cashews). (If you’re considering adopting one such diet to help with your headache pain, always consult a physician to ensure the diet is safe and that you remain healthy.)

Gluten-free diets, on the other hand, haven’t been shown to reduce the likelihood of headaches unless the person suffers from celiac disease.

Implications for the Future

This study may help a lot of people prevent painful headache occurrences, but the authors do note that more clinical trials on the topic will be needed. Yet switching to a healthier diet is no doubt a smart plan of action, one that can not only lead to fewer migraines, but also decreased inflammation and pain throughout the body, as well as weight loss and the prevention of heart disease.

If headaches are still interfering with your daily life, consider seeking help from a pain management physician, who will be able to suggest various treatment options based on your condition.

Get moving. Call (888) 901-PAIN (7246) or click to schedule a consultation now.

[1] Martin, Vincent T. and Brinder Vij. “Diet and Headache: Part 1” and “Diet and Headache: Part 2.”  Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain 56, no. 9 (October 2016).

01 Nov

mehta_2013_small.jpgAPM physician Rohaan Mehta, who practices out of Mankato, shared his extensive pain management expertise by penning a comprehensive article on headaches for the January issue of Minnesota Healthcare News magazine. The independent publication is geared toward Minnesota consumers and is published on a monthly basis.

“Pain that is persistent or occurs repeatedly can be very distressing,” he writes in the article. “Headaches have the added, dubious distinction of being especially debilitating for many people.” Dr. Mehta goes on to explore the most common types of headaches, including tension, migraine, cluster and chronic headaches, in addition to what factors can contribute to each.

Fortunately, Dr. Mehta notes, various therapies and lifestyle changes can treat headache pain. If those prove unsuccessful, APM offers interventional procedures which may help, including occipital nerve blocks, facet joint injections, medial branch blocks and radiofrequency denervation.

Dr. Mehta’s article, titled “Headaches: Types, causes, and treatments,” appears on page 14 of the publication, which is available here.

Get moving. Call (888) 901-PAIN (7246) or click to schedule a consultation now.

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