Headaches are one of the top health complaints of Americans. We are bombarded with advertisements, and pay millions of dollars for pain relievers. Headaches are one of the most common reasons individuals will see their physician. Fortunately modern medicine offers less drastic treatment for headache suffers.

Migraine headaches affect an estimated 28 million Americans. Women tend to be affected more than men, and many report a family history or migraines. Migraines are a disorder involving changes in the blood vessels of the head. The blood vessels spasm, or constrict, causing repeated headaches. Migraines tend to be throbbing, one-sided headaches that may be very intense and disabling. They may involve nausea or vomiting and could be aggravated by bright lights and loud noises.

There are two types of migraines: Classic and Common. The Classic Migraine tends to be severe and of long duration. It is preceded by an “aura,” a sensation that signals the start of a headache. The aura may involve visual disturbances or an abnormal taste or odor. The Common Migraine is more prevalent than the Classic Migraine. The attacks are generally milder, of shorter duration and do not involve an aura. Migraines do not always reflect these particular symptoms.

A migraine may be triggered by something you eat, smell, hear or see. The following are common triggers: Allergies, stress, anger, fumes or tobacco smoke, weather changes, hormonal changes associated with menstruation or estrogen therapy, too much, too little or interrupted sleep, specific foods and beverages.

There are steps you can take to avoid migraines and control symptoms associated with migraines. Begin by keeping a “migraine diary, ” writing down information about your headaches and what you were doing when it occurred. This may help you determine what triggers your headaches.

There are various medications available to treat, and often prevent migraines. Some medications work to relieve the pain associated with migraines. These medications work best if taken at the time the migraine starts; Medication is also available to prevent the migraines from occurring. They include allergy medications, anti-inflammatory medications, anti-seizure medications, blood pressure medications and antidepressants.

Finally, you may find lying in a quiet, dark room and using cold packs on your forehead or temples helps to reduce the severity of symptoms.

The Waynedale News Staff
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Dr. William Smits, Dr. Kevin Letz and Jeannie Giese, NP

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