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Migraines: The “Ultimate” Headache!

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women with a headache

Migraines can be debilitating. Mountains Community Hospital provides ideas for preventing the pain.

There are headaches and there are migraine headaches. And the difference between the two is enormous. Most routine headaches last just a few hours with only slight discomfort, compared to migraines, which are extremely painful and can last up to three days—or more.

Migraines have a variety of symptoms. Patients may or may not have all of the “standard indicators.” But some must be present for the headache to be considered a migraine. These include:

  • An “aura,”
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Nausea
  • Throbbing pain on at least one side of the head

Despite the medical world’s best efforts, it remains difficult for sufferers to find the right medication to stop an oncoming headache or quickly stop one once it’s underway.

The Mayo Clinic advises patients to take pain medication as soon as symptoms arise. Over-the-counter drugs, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, may help at the beginning. But if the pain continues, these medications won’t be effective and probably won’t affect a severe headache in the slightest. Many physicians will prescribe “routine” or “repeat” sufferers with daily medication to help keep migraines at bay and/or reduce their duration and severity.

In addition to milder, over-the-counter drugs, a variety of pharmacy-strength medicines as well as opiates can potentially abate pain.

More than one in 10 Americans suffers from migraines. And women are more likely to suffer from them than men. While specific causes are unknown, researchers believe that brain chemicals as well as blood vessels and nerves in the brain affect any person’s likelihood of suffering from migraine headaches. Hormones and certain foods as well as stress are very likely triggers. Unfortunately, aged and/or fermented products such as cheese, red wine, soy sauce, pickles and pepperoni can trigger a migraine if the trigger comes from a substance called Tyramine. This substance is formed by the breakdown of the amino acid thyosine. Getting enough consistent sleep is also important. And while no one can escape stress or difficult times, many people who listen to relaxing music and/or participate in slow-moving exercises such as yoga or tai-chi claim to find a certain amount of relief.

Researchers are investigating a potential connection between depression and migraine headaches. While this correlation isn’t new, what is new is the fact that researchers are discovering a link between the two which may result from genetic factors. According to a recent article on migraines and depression, author Steven Reinberg reported in an online edition of Neurology, that according to a Dutch research study of 2,652 people, 360 had migraines and 977 had depression. Twenty-five percent of the migraine suffers also had depression compared to 13 percent of the study participants who didn’t get migraine headaches.

While the jury is still out, one way patients can help their physicians diagnose and treat migraines is to keep and share a diary of their symptoms. If you suffer from headaches, we want you to find relief because MCH cares about your health. Call today to find a physician and/or to schedule an appointment with your doctor (909) 336-3651.

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Allergies Got You Down?

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Girl blowing a dandelion

Season allergies are more than inconvenient to those who suffer from them.

It’s that time of year again. Is your nose watering? How about those itchy eyes? Well, summer’s here and so are many allergens. Living and traveling up and down the mountain highways can affect a person’s nasal passages. And, with that, comes some problems. While many people are unaffected by the brightly colored Spanish Broom that grows along mountain highways, other people are very sensitive to its pollen.

Often, during the spring and early summer, vehicles and anything else left outdoors may be covered with a thin layer of yellow dust that travels in the wind. While the forest service has cut a lot of the “non-native species noxious weed” over the past two years along Highway 330 and Highway 18, there’s still plenty of pollen throughout the area. While the yellow flowers are beautiful and fragrant, many people are allergic to the bright yellow blooms.

Some signs of allergic reactions (regardless of the source) are: a runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion and sneezing. Allergy symptoms can be at their worst when people are outside enjoying the fresh air at concerts, barbecues or other outdoor events. Symptoms erupt when the patient comes into contact with an “allergy trigger.” When this occurs, the body produces higher levels of certain substances, including histamines. Medications that help relieve symptoms include anti-histamines, which are available over-the-counter or, if symptoms are severe enough, by prescription.

According to http://www.everydayhealth.com, medical specialists don’t ordinarily do skin tests for pine tree allergies because this condition is quite rare. With millions of pine trees in the inhabited San Bernardino Mountain communities, it’s good that pine tree pollen allergies are less common than those that spring from other sources. If pine tree pollen is suspected, the patient may have to search to find a physician who can perform a skin test. However, if the physician and patient believe this test would be beneficial, pine tree extract for testing can be obtained by most doctors.

Skin testing for allergies has been around for quite awhile. Tests will reveal what allergies, if any, are present. Not all runny noses, congestion and other “cold-like” symptoms mean allergies. However, when they re-occur with every spring and/or summer, chronic allergies are something to consider. While there are many allergens that affect people, some of the most well known are pollen from grasses (especially newly-mowed grass), weeds, trees, outdoor mold spores, and animal dander as well as dust mites. Summer in the mountains is an exciting time. So doesn’t let allergies slow you down. Take control of them by finding out what they are so you can enjoy the great outdoors.