In a study published this month in Phytotherapy Research, 100 patients with migraine without aura were blindly given either ginger powder or sumatriptan for migraine treatment. Two hours after treatment, patients reported a decrease in their headache severity regardless of the treatment they received. Sumatriptan and ginger powder were found to be similar in their effect on migraine relief.
This inspired me to find some ginger-based recipes, especially drink recipes as I am always looking for something soothing to sip on as I blog and research articles. While ginger has no promising healing migraine power (we need more studies!), these recipes are just plain fun and may help take your mind off your daily stress.
Please read my article Soothing Migraine Drinks. Feel free to share any "soothing" or "headache-thwarting" recipes you enjoy!
Source (Abstract): Medhi M, Farhad G, Alireza ME, Mehran Y. "Comparison Between the Efficacy of Ginger and Sumatriptan in the Ablative Treatment of the Common Migraine." Phytother Res May 2013 Online.
Please share any "headache-power-fighting" recipes you use.
A very recent study published in Science Translational Medicine found a gene that may link migraines and a rare sleep disorder called advanced sleep phase disorder. This is a disorder in which people go to bed in the early evening (between 6pm and 8pm) due to excessive sleepiness at this time of day and an inability to stay up later despite social norms. These individuals also awake in the early morning (1am to 3am) before their desired awakening period.
This particular study examined two families who have different mutations in the casein kinase gene, a gene involved in circadian rhythms or sleep-wake cycle regulation. They found that multiple members of both families have migraines as well as advanced sleep phase disorder. This hints at a potential link between migraines and sleep (which many of us can relate too!). Additionally, scientists in this study looked at mice who contained these genetic mutations and found them to have brain changes similar to those in humans who have migraines. The mice with the mutated gene were also more likely to be sensitive to pain after being treated with a medication that would trigger a migraine.
What is the big picture here? Scientists are learning more about the complex relationship between migraines and sleep AND this study further hints at a genetic basis for migraines (which explains why migraines run in families). By understanding the genes linked to migraines, scientists can target better treatments. Exciting!
Here is the article abstract is you are interested in reading more. Please also read my article Sleep and Migraine.
Brennan KC, Bates, EA, Shapiro R, Zyuzin J, Hallows WC, Huang Y, et al. Casein Kinase 1δ Mutations in Familial Migraine and Advanced Sleep Phase. Sci Transl Med May 2013;183(5).
Even though I do not personally suffer from a rare form of headache, I am always interested in reading about or listening to those who do. As a migraneur and physician, I strive to better understand other's experiences of head pain so that I can better my own health and those of my patients.
One rare type of headache that I wrote about this month is called primary cough headache. It is triggered by - you guessed it- coughing. I provide more details in my article, Primary Cough Headache, but please let me clarify right off the bat that coughing can aggravate many headaches, including migraines. This does not mean you have primary cough headache. The difference is that in primary cough headache, coughing is the actual and definitive trigger for the headache.
By chance do any of you suffer from primary cough headache or another unique type of headache pain.? Please share your diagnosis or list other rare headache types that you would be interested in reading about.
After delivering my son, I fondly recall his healthy cries and grandparent's oodles as he was passed around from one set of loving arms to another. On a less exciting note, I also recall the tension headache I soon developed after delivery that seemed to linger for hours. Fortunately, my headache was not serious and was triggered by the typical culprits of delivering a baby - hormone changes, exhaustion and hunger. A long nap, fluids, and a small lunch cured it. But, postpartum headaches should not be taken lightly especially if they are different from your typical headaches or persist greater than 24 hours after delivery. They may represent something more serious or a medical condition that is seen only or more frequently in postpartum women.
If you had the experience of delivering a child, did you develop a postpartum headache? What cured it? Did you notify your doctor about it? Please share your thoughts and experiences.
As the weekend approaches, many of us are looking forward to much needed sleep and relaxing activities like catching a movie, indulging in a novel, or eating a yummy dinner with family or friends. Of course the last thing on your mind is a headache infringing on these anticipated weekend plans. Unfortunately though, "weekend headaches" are all too frequent occurrences. The quick change in routine from the weekday schedule to a weekend schedule is a common headache trigger. Headache-triggering culprits include: sleeping that extra hour on Saturday, having a cup less of coffee on Sunday morning than usual, or sipping a cocktail on Friday night with friends.
What can you do to ensure your weekend is headache free? Don't worry I am not going to recommend you go back to work! You need this time to decompress. Below are some simple recommendations:
- Alcohol: Avoid it!
- Sleep: Get up at the same time on Saturday and Sunday as you would during the week.
- Caffeine: Ideally, it is best to avoid caffeine all together in your diet. I will address that in a future article. But for now stick to your typical caffeine intake to avoid a withdrawal headache.
Do any of you suffer from weekend headaches? Leave your story in the comments section. Please share your recommendations on what you do to best avoid them.
April showers and May flowers while lovely also can trigger dreaded sinus infections for some individuals. While sinus problems can cause headaches, this phenomenon is relatively rare. Many people suffering from a "sinus headache" are really experiencing a migraine. An older study in the Archives of Internal Medicine examined nearly 3000 patients who had no prior diagnosis of migraines. These patients either self-diagnosed or were diagnosed by their doctors as having a sinus headache. The study found that the majority of patients, over 80%, actually met criteria for a migraine-type headache according to the International Headache Society. The take-home point here is that a thorough history and examination by a doctor is critical to making an accurate diagnosis as the treatment for a sinus headache versus a migraine are very different. Whether you have sinus headaches or migraines or both, understanding your diagnosis and treatment plan is important for your overall health and quality of life.
Have any of you been diagnosed with a sinus headache and suspected or were later diagnosed with migraines? If you do suffer from sinus headaches, please share your experiences.
Schreiber CP, Hutchinson S , Webster CJ, Ames M, Richardson MS, Power C. "Prevalence of migraine in patients with a history of self-reported or physician-diagnosed "sinus" headache." Arch Intern Med 2004 Sep;164(16):1769-72.
As spring approaches and the weather starts warming up, many of us are looking forward to outdoor sports like baseball, bike riding, and throwing the frisbee. Flag football games can be especially fun with a large group of people and also allow you to avoid the contact part of the sport that makes people prone to injury.
Injury to the spine, especially herniated discs, are common in high-impact sports like football and can cause variable symptoms including pain, weakness and paresthesias. When herniated discs occur in the neck, they can cause chronic headaches, often described as starting at the back of the head and radiating to the forehead. Understanding how a herniated disc could cause a headache is important as this may affect your treatment plan.
Have any of you suffered from a pinched nerve in your neck? Did you suffer from headaches because of it? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. I am interested in hearing your story.
The thought of a child suffering a migraine attack is difficult to digest. At least, as adults, we can gain an understanding and find support through the internet and our healthcare providers. Most importantly, these resources help us identify our triggers for migraine prevention. Children, on the other hand, may have a hard time verbalizing their symptoms to their parents or pediatrician. This can prolong the diagnosis or lead to under-treatment. Finally, while the physical discomfort of a migraine is frustrating for a child, the toll migraine attacks can take on a child's social functioning and/or psychological health is concerning. A recent study suggests a link between headaches in childhood and its negative impact on emotional health and behavior.
Please read my summary of the study's results and how to interpret them in relation to your child's needs. The full article is available at "Behavioral and emotional symptoms and primary headaches in children: a population based study."
Did you suffer from migraines as a child and/or have any children who suffer from migraines? Please share your thoughts on if and how this impacted your quality of life.
As I surfed the internet last week, while sipping my essential morning cup of joe (you all can relate!), I stumbled across this Chicago Tribune article by Andrew M. Seaman titled, "Nearby lightning may be linked to migraines." Many of us have heard or experienced weather as a migraine trigger. Lightning, on the other hand, is a surprising one! While we are constantly trying to identify and avoid our triggers, lightning may be a bit difficult to escape. I am imagining jumping into my car and driving away from any looming thunderclouds, quite the opposite of a "storm chaser."
You can read more about the article but the skinny is that researchers from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine found that people were 28 percent more likely to experience a migraine when lightning strikes within 25 miles of their home.
Do any of you suffer from weather as a migraine trigger? Have you noticed a correlation with thunderstorms? Do you believe that lightning could actually trigger your migraine? Please share your thoughts on this interesting article and potential migraine trigger.
Here are Links to Other Migraine Triggers:
I remember sitting in my anatomy class in medical school vigorously jotting down notes while simultaneously trying to understand why this debilitating condition was just hitting me in my 20s. I attributed my new diagnosis of migraines to, well, being in medical school. I was sleep deprived, stressed, and strung out on coffee.
But I was also the happiest I had ever been, finally embarking on my journey to be a physician. These migraines would not hold me back.
A year later I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Looking back on those days in medical school, I feel that migraines were the first real symptom of my MS. Since then, as I've learned to adapt my life to my diagnosis, I've also seen a sharp decline in the number of migraines. I still wonder if those "migraines" were really headaches related directly to the multiple sclerosis. The relationship is clearly complex and something neurologists still scratch their heads about. Read More...