Did you know that if you are having regular headaches, and just suffering through them, you could actually be harming yourself and causing WORSENING headaches as time goes on? Seriously. For the OnCall with Dr Darria Show last week, I interviewed two headache specialists (who have a helpful new book, The Migraine Solution) from the Brigham and Womens’ Faulkner Hospital to give us the facts about headaches, especially migraines. We also finished the segment with a “mindfulness exercise” to practice when you feel the stress starting to build into a headache (and who doesn’t know that feeling!)
- Headaches, particularly migraines, as your body’s way of telling you that something doesn’t “agree” with you–food, smells, sounds, stress. So, they’re not just a nuisance, but a signal to listen to your body.
- Causes: Stress is a top driver of headaches (well, no surprise there..), but so are skipping meals, too little–or too much– sleep, and hormone fluctuations
- What to do to prevent headaches? The best evidence stands for keeping a regular routine as concerns eating, exercise, and sleep. Interestingly, the American Academy of Neurology just released new guidelines and research, stating that Butterbur supplements can potentially prevent headaches. Still more research needs to be done, but if you’re a migraine sufferer, talk to your headache specialist about it! Also, many people think of specific foods (red wine, aged cheese, etc) as causing migraines–the truth is, it’s different for EVERYONE . There’s no one “migraine diet”, but if you’re a frequent sufferer, take a close look at your diet–possibly try keeping a “headache journal” to try to identify your triggers.
- Treatment: Standard over-the-counter medications such as Ibuprofen (which will ease the inflammation) or Excedrin migraine (which has a combination of tylenol, aspirin, and caffeine) are adequate for many of us. But, if you’re having to take medications two or more times per week on a regular basis, talk to your primary doctor or a headache specialist about prescription medications to prevent or abort the headaches. There’s also some exciting research on the role of biofeedback to help when you feel the stress building up and a headache coming on, so watch segment 5 for that instruction (and DONT LAUGH–I was the “test patient”!).
- For more information including how to contact Dr Loder or Dr Rizzoli, go to the “ON TV-OnCall with Dr Darria” tab