Migraine with Auras

Do you get a strange feeling before your migraines?

Dizzy, ringing in your ears, seeing zigzag lines, wavy lines, bright flashing colorful or non colorful lights, blurry vision, transient loss of vision, numbness and tingling sensation, followed by a pain in your head that can put you out for the rest of the day.

These strange things that you experience before a migraine is called an aura. These headaches can be painful and make you feel “off”, but they are not life threatening. You may not have auras every time you have a migraine. HOWEVER, auras can also be a sign of other neurological conditions such as a seizure, stroke, multiple sclerosis, etc.

If you experience an aura for the first time, or have experienced auras and have never seen a health care professional, please call our office for an evaluation by one of our health care providers. We will do the appropriate testing to determine if there are any other underlying neurological conditions.

Together, we will design the right treatment plan for your migraines with auras or any other neurological issues.

Top 10 Natural Headache/Migraine Remedies

Prevention is the key to managing migraine and headaches. Here are some non pharmacological methods of migraine and headache reduction. In our busy practice we recommend below preventatives which minimize headache frequency.

Magnesium 200-600 mg
Gluten free Diet
Peppermint and Lavender Essential Oil
Herbs: Feverfew and Butterbur
B complex Units (Vitamin B 20)
Stay Hydrated
Chiropractic Care

Migraine nausea

Ever wondered why you are so nauseous during a migraine attack?

Many people with migraines have stomach problems at the same time. There are many theories such as low serotonin (chemical in the brain) levels which is linked to motion sickness and nausea, changes in nervous system or nerve pathways that excite an area in the brain stem during an attack. However, the real cause is not known.

If you have severe nausea and/or vomiting during a migraine attack, an oral medication may not be the right choice for you.

Non-oral migraine medications are available in the form of nasal sprays, subcutaneous injections, intravenous and intramuscular medications

Anti-nausea medications are also available in non-oral form that can provide you with much relief. Some of these medications are: Metoclopramide, ondansetron, and promethazine.

All of these medications are available on-site at the Manhattan Center for Headache and Neurology.

For immediate relief from migraine nausea and vomiting, call and speak to one of our care professionals for a same day appointment, or a future appointment to discuss your individualized treatment plan.

Sex Headaches

Sex headaches do exist!!!

Have you ever experienced a sudden severe headache just before or during orgasm? Or sometimes a dull ache in your head and neck as sexual activity builds up? This is usually nothing to worry about, but can also be a sign of something serious such as a problem with the blood vessels in your brain.

Sex headaches can affect either male or female, but males are more prone to developing them.
People who have migraines are also prone to developing sex headaches.

Most sex headaches lasts for only minutes, but others may linger for a few hours and even several days.

It is recommended to consult your doctor for headaches that begin abruptly during sexual activity or if this is the first time you are experiencing a headache after sexual activity.

The Manhattan Center for Headache and Neurology provides individualized treatments for all types of headaches. Call and speak to one of our care professionals or to schedule an appointment regarding your headache concerns.

The Thalamus and Migraine at AHS

Yesterday, The 53rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society started.  The day went great.  The afternoon talks focused on the role of the thalamus (an area of the brain) in migraine.  It was a fascinating afternoon.  The thalamus is an area of the brain that you might think of as a relay center and an area where inputs from all other areas of the brain come together and get directed to the right place.  Already we have discovered pathways whereby light can modulate migraine pain, through the thalamus.  It is also believed that persistent pain arising from discrete episodes of pain is a transition modulated by the thalamus.  That is, episodic migraine (<15 days per month) into chronic migraine (15 or more days per month)?  It is an area where the information taken from one area of the nervous system can affect all others, changing perception, changing pain states, and many other things.  Certain medications that we use in migraine have been shown to modify the firing of neurons in the thalamus, in the areas where pain is modulated.  Very very exciting indeed.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for the Migraine Sufferer

Does that special someone in your life suffer from migraines?  Looking for gift ideas that won’t trigger them?  Follow this list of do’s and don’ts…

Gifts worth giving:

1. Chocolate, preferably dark chocolate, and preferably in small to moderate amounts – chocolate contains many chemicals that promote general health, and may even help stave off a migraine.

2. Fragrance free beauty or bath products – we all want beautiful skin, or a nice bubble bath.  Try these products if your special someone is sensitive to smells.

3. Unscented candles – these can be beautiful without the potential hidden migraine trigger.

4. Herbal Tea (caffeine free) – many can help relieve migraines and promote good digestion and / or relaxation.  Often, you can find a gift set with some nice boxes or mugs too.

5. Massage – definitely can promote relaxation, but some migraine sufferers cannot be massaged during a migraine, so best used in between attacks to promote stress reduction.

6. Hot or cold packs – some have very luxurious features, made to form around the neck or head, to promote relief from headaches or neck pain.

7. Eye covers to keep the bright light out and enhance sleep, and some ear plugs too.

8. Sunglasses w/ FL-41 tint – may help to reduce the type of UV light that is most likely to trigger or aggravate migraines.

9. Instructional DVDs for meditation and relaxation – these types of DVDs can go a long way in promoting general well being and stress reduction, as well as sometimes helping actually abort an acute migraine attack.

10. Love, Hugs, and Kisses – well, enough said.

Gifts to avoid:

1. Perfume – odors, even one’s that seem pleasant to most, can be very irritating, and even trigger a migraine.

2. Flowers – both allergies to flowers and their scents can be detrimental to migraineurs.

3. Food gifts containing cheeses, sausages, nuts – all are foods that may potentially trigger migraines.

4. Champagne and red wine – although alcohol in general can trigger migraines, these may be the worst offenders.  If you absolutely need to go there, opt for lighter colored wines and liquors.

5. Scented candles – these can be beautiful without the possible harm.

Brain activity increases with cell phone use

A study recently published revealed that cell phone signals increased brain activity.  It was actually a very interesting study, in which participants held a cell phone to each ear, unaware if turned on or off.  After 50 minutes, brain activity was increased in the area of the brain in closest proximity to the antenna. 

So, do cell phones cause cancer?  It’s way to early to say that, in fact, and it’s not clear how increasing the brain’s activity would effect one’s health.  It may be, for instance, that increases in brain activity would be helpful in certain conditions in the right area of the brain.  It could also be that the increase in activity for sustained periods over many years, could have a detrimental effect.  It’s just too early to say.  We also don’t know how these signals may affect the brains of developing children and teens, who can expect to be exposed for prolonged periods over decades.

Many studies have looked for correlations between cell phone use and brain cancer, and long story short, the evidence in it’s entirety does not support that claim.  Of course, all studies have their problems, but despite looking, the connection has not been found in any convincing way.

This study is very interesting, that radio signals affect brain function, but what it means no one really knows.  There is also a small amount of evidence that using cell phones, especially within a couple of hours of bedtime, impairs sleep, and may cause headaches.  Hmmmm.

 So… what to do with your cell phone?  If you’re an average adult user, and don’t spend prolonged periods of time on the phone, there’s probably nothing to worry about.  If you use your phone more often, or for prolonged periods, you can wear a wired earpiece that transmits the sound with out adding any electromagnetic waves and keep the antenna further from your brain.  As for you kids?  Well, they don’t really need cell phones, do they?

Not Tonight Honey…

Headaches, and especially migraines, may make you want to stay in bed, un touched, and lying still.  This inevitably makes someone NOT want to engage in intimate affairs.  But what if a good romp could actually help?  It may, but of course you need to get over your fear of all that movement and closeness. 

For many sufferers, asking this is too much.  Unless you want stomach contents spewed out on the bed.  Sorry for the visual.  But for some sufferers or some headaches, it might be worth a try.  Endorphins are hormones with pain killing effects that flood your body with vigorous exercise or even sexual encounters. 

There are other benefits too.  An active healthy sex life, for many, suggests a healthy overall lifestyle with plenty of sleep, good nutrition and good stress reducing techniques.  All things that are great for headache sufferers.

There are some headaches that can be triggered by intimate encounters, though.  If you get one of those, you probably need to see your doctor and discuss this symptom with him or her.

Brain Injury Awareness Month

Headache is the most common symptom of concussion. Brain Injury Awareness Month is coming in March, an effort to increase awareness of brain injuries and their significance. The Brain Injury Association of America recently updated their definition of traumatic brain injury: TBI is defined as an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force.  Even seemingly mild jolts to the brain can actually cause a concussion.  Ever get that feeling of being dazed?  That’s a concussion, too.  Headaches can occur immediately at the time of impact or in the ensuing days afterwards, and can be brief, or can result in prolonged and chronic problems.

Morning Headaches Are A Signal To Talk To Your Doctor

Morning headaches, if occurring consistently, are a reason to talk to your doctor.  On a recent appearance on the Dr. Oz show, a panel of experts helped design a quiz to test your level of health.  As a headache specialist, I felt that morning headaches were important to discuss.  Morning headaches can be due to a number of ailments, many of which should be treated, aside from treating the actual headache. 

Sleep apnea, medication overuse headaches (also called rebound headaches), and even brain tumors, can cause headaches when you awake in the morning.  All 3 of these conditions need to be evaluated and treated or they can worsen.  There are other conditons as well, that may lead to morning headaches, and as some migraine sufferers already know, often morning migraines can be among the most difficult to treat.  You can see my discussion of the topic at  http://www.youtube.com/user/AudreyHalpernMD