This week, my son suffered from a leg muscle strain that was easily alleviated with an anti-inflammatory and rest. Despite his fast recovery and seemingly benign healing process (he got to miss school for one day and watch his favorite show while cuddling with mom), I was naturally a worried parent. His injury caused me more distress than him for sure! This made me think of my readers whose children suffer from headaches and migraines, and how heart-wrenching it can be to see your child in pain. Additionally, children may have a difficult time verbalizing their symptoms, which can further complicate their diagnosis and treatment plan.
Do you have a child who suffers from migraines or frequent headaches? Due to the fact that there is no FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved medications for the prevention of migraine headaches in children and adolescents, what types of therapy does your child's neurologist or headache specialist prescribe? Please share your comments and stories if comfortable.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is organizing National Influenza Vaccination Week from Dec 8th-14th to promote the importance of obtaining the flu vaccine, which they recommend for all individuals 6 months and older.
Remember, two common symptoms of influenza are headache and fever. However, do not assume that a "headache and fever" combination is automatically the flu, even during "flu season." Other serious medical conditions, like meningitis, can also cause a headache and fever with no other clues. Your doctor can help differentiate between various medical causes of headache and fever.
If you have not done so, please receive the flu vaccine (assuming no contraindications). You can read more about the vaccine and influenza on the CDC's webpage. Please also read more in my article, "Headache and Fever: Is This a Sign of Infection?", to learn about additional causes of headache and fever.
One last tidbit, please remember to wash your hands and avoid touching your face. This will help prevent the spread of influenza and other viruses. As always, be well, and please share comments on your experience with influenza (especially what your headache felt like) if comfortable.
I never empathized more with migraineurs than I did when I experienced my first trimester of pregnancy. The nausea that overtook those first several weeks of seemingly glorious pregnancy was overwhelming. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of wanting to eat, to curb that "unsettling, queasy gut sensation" and then wanting to bring up everything I ate, to again ease that "unsettling, queasy gut sensation." I also suffered from headaches, mainly tension-type, and a couple of migraines as well. Migraines tend to improve in the second and third trimesters but can initially worsen or become more frequent, along with tension-type headaches in the first trimester.
Whenever I suffer a personal ailment, I always think of my brave patients, some of who suffer from headaches, with or without nausea on a frequent basis. Headache and nausea is a brutal combination and makes migraine therapy that much more difficult. What are your experiences with nausea and migraines? What treatment works best for you? Which is worse, your head pain or the nausea? Please share your story.
Additionally, headaches during pregnancy, is an interesting topic, as there are headache disorders that are unique or more common during pregnancy. Did you suffer from new headaches during pregnancy? If you already have a headache disorder, did they worsen or improve during your pregnancy? Please share your story.
Have you ever wondered exactly what you can expect when you see a neurologist or headache specialist or even your family physician regarding your headache diagnosis? You may have done hours of self-diagnosis, pouring over the internet, books, and/or the advice of friends and family. You may find your doctor visit to be exactly what you researched or completely different! Even as a physician myself, I am humbly amazed at the interesting, thoughtful questions that other physicians ask of me or my patients that I missed or did not think of.
So what exactly is your headache? Find out the systematic manner in which your doctor will likely inquire about your headache symptoms. This is a great way to prepare for your visit so as to maximize your consultation.
Please share interesting questions your doctor may have asked you regarding your headache symptoms that you found particularly helpful.
If you have ever experienced a severe, explosive "clap of thunder" in your head or heard about someone who has, than it is important to read further about what exactly a thunderclap headache (TCH) is. Not until your doctor exhaustively rules out more alarming causes of this sudden, electrifying and "worst headache of your life" phenomenon can you term the headache a primary thunderclap headache, a benign, rare headache disorder of unknown cause.
All in all, I am not trying to be an alarmist, but if you are experiencing the worst headache of your life, than please go to your nearest emergency room for further evaluation. Experiencing a "clap of thunder" in your head can be very dangerous and not something you should ignore, just like you would not ignore the sudden onset of chest pain or difficulty breathing. Take action. Be proactive. Listen to your gut. A new, horrific pain (anywhere!) should be be ignored.
Have you ever had a thunderclap headache? If comfortable, please share your story so we can learn from your experience.
Over the years, I have learned that the art of balance is really what helps reduce stress in my life. Eating a healthy diet, exercise and spending time doing things I love, like reading novels or relaxing with my dog, are just as important as performing well in my work duties and caring for my wonderful husband and son. With stress reduction, has come a significant reduction in my migraines, as well as my multiple sclerosis symptoms, which has dramatically improved the quality of my life.
Research has shown us, throughout the years, that mental and emotional stress can exacerbate or even initiate physical symptoms, like headaches and/or migraines. Of course, "stress" itself, is a difficult term to define and is quite subjective. Nevertheless, stress-reduction strategies are vital to headache and migraine therapy. Please learn more about stress and its relationship to physical complaints like headaches in my article, "How Does Stress Impact My Headaches?"
Please share your comments on how stress affects your headaches and.or migraines. Did reducing stress help your headaches?
As October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, winds down, I decided it only prudent to dedicate a full article to the potential link between migraines and breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women, and the second leading cause of death in women (behind lung cancer) in the United States. Moreover, a woman of average risk has a 12% chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. These are astonishing statistics. But, the good news is that there are things we can do to help prevent breast cancer, like leading a healthier lifestyle and making sure we undergo our annual mammogram, as early detection is KEY to survival if diagnosed.
If you are a migraineur or have a loved one who is, than you may be surprised to learn that migraines may reduce your risk of breast cancer. Let's take a closer look at this interesting association in my article, "Is There a Link Between Migraines and Breast Cancer?"
For those of you who suffer from cluster headaches, you probably have noticed an interesting pattern that goes along with this excruciatingly painful headache disorder. A cluster headache has been termed an "alarm clock" headache because of its fascinating way of occurring at specific times of day (usually starting at night) and recurring at the same time of year (seasonal variation). It's like "clockwork!" The WHY behind the periodicity of cluster headaches may have something to do with a brain structure that serves as our biological clock, the hypothalamus. "Hypo...what," you may be asking. That's ok. I can explain more in my article, "The Why Behind the Alarm Clock Headache."
If you do suffer from cluster headaches, we would love to hear comments about whether or not your headaches follow a pattern. Please share your story!
My close friends and family know how much of a dog-lover I am. I consider my white 4-year-old Havanese, Ace, to be more than simply a cuddly, vibrant animal that loves to give kisses and play with my son. Ace is truly a member of our family. We love him dearly, even when he causes trouble, like jumping all over my medical journals or barking at the wind, when I am trying to concentrate on an article.
Our furry friends may provide more than companionship and laughter. For some pet owners, their dogs may help predict when their migraines will occur. Let's take a closer look at one study that examined this potential connection in my article, "DOGgone that Migraine."
The burden of being a migraine sufferer is often compounded by its effects on your work life. Whether you have to take medical leave, miss multiple days of work a month, or find yourself present, but not very functional at work, than your stress level is likely pretty high. Of course, this stress can then precipitate or worsen headaches, creating a vicious cycle. Do you believe your migraines affect your performance at work, therefore impacting your income ability? Or does your work itself create stress that likely triggers your migraines?
I found an interesting study that looked at this relationship between migraines and incomes. Please read more details in "Is There a Link Between Migraines and My Income?" You might be surprised by the results.
Has your migraines affected your socioeconomic status or vice versa? Please share your thoughts if comfortable.