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Jan 28, 2010

Healthy Living gets inside your migraine

28-1-10-34There are different types of headaches, but one of the worst, is the migraine headaches. The symptoms may vary and include dizziness, weakness and even hallucinations. Healthy living this week looks at the two main classifications of migraines.

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Headaches are so common that they normally don’t rank as a major health concern. In fact, most people self medicate with over the counter drugs and move on with their routines. But when we talk about migraine headaches the experience is a lot different. Neurosurgeon, Dr. Joel Cervantes gives us a quick review of some of the basic types of headaches.

Dr. Joel Cervantes, Neurosurgeon

Dr. Joel Cervantes

Dr. Joel Cervantes

“The tension type headache, as it is called, is a headache that is always related to stressful factors, everyday life. Somebody who really can’t take to a stressful environment and it shows up by the person having pain at the level of the back of the neck, spreading unto the head region. Cluster type headache is a headache that usually is something seasonal it doesn’t usually really respond to the treatment that you’d give for migraine or tension type headaches. When I say seasonal it seems to be during specific parts of the year. You have other types of headaches; some that we call benign daily headaches. Those headaches well to find an identifiable cause, many times you don’t have it. It could be because it comes from different sources. And of course the group that most people talk about when our head hurts is migraine. We all tend to self diagnose that we have migraines across the board when it’s not so.”

The self diagnosis is normally driven by the belief that an intense headache must be a migraine. Dr. Cervantes was quick to point out that all severe headaches are NOT migraines, which may be a problem in itself.

Dr. Joel Cervantes

“Time and time again you’ll find people coming into your office and having self diagnose themselves, having gone to the pharmacy and the pharmacy sold something to them and they don’t really have a migraine. In fact we have to be careful because there is even a type of headache that is called a medication overuse headache. Migraine is recurrent, it has episodes, usually unilateral and of a pulsating characteristic: people feel like they’re driving a nail or something into their head. And it can also be aggravated by routine physical activity: walking up stairs or just walking basically and that can make it worse. That is why a migraine sufferer doesn’t want to know anything when they have an attack. They just wants to chill out.”

There are two main classifications: migraines with aura and those without aura.

Dr. Joel Cervantes

“Migraine without aura basically is a headache, pain in the region of the head that is recurrent. It is episodic; it comes time and time again. Headache with aura, may have or may not have pain associated with it, but the aura is talking about; we have to be careful how we use the words, but what we call warning signs.”

28-1-10-32The warning signs may include:

-flashing lights

- Black or white spots

- Dizziness

- Stiffness in the neck

- Distorted vision

- Weakness

- Tingling sensation

- Occasional amnesia

- And even hallucinations.

These may commence before the pain or headache starts or immediately at onset of the headache.

The exact cause for migraines is unknown. However, there are some types of migraines that are hereditary. One thing is definite; the feelings associated with a migraine headache are intense and last as long as four to seventy-two hours.

28-1-10-36Dr. Joel Cervantes

“A migraine is very intense and some things are gonna cause that person not to be able to function. Two of the words that we use that are very frequent is photophobia ‘photo’ meaning light. ‘Phobia’ fear for light literally speaking. It just means that light is a disturbing factor; it just makes them feel worse. That is one of the reason some migraine sufferers have to go somewhere that is very dark. The other word is phonophobia ‘phono’ means sound. There could be a fear for sound so loud noises or certain types of high pitch noises cause the person to have a more severe attack, more severe symptoms or for it to last longer. You can have somebody a colleague, a friend or a family member that has migraine and they are down for 2-3 days or half a day up to three days. Of course if this is something that goes beyond 72 hours, you better consult with your doctor.”

A doctor consultation is necessary for a proper diagnosis of migraine headaches; this will allow for the necessary treatments to be administered. Dr. Cervantes offers a useful tip on what to take to your doctor.

Dr. Joel Cervantes

“It is good for you to have a diary, an old piece of paper and on the back that when you’re having an attack if you think it’s a migraine, document.  More or less what time it started, how long the attack lasts, if you did have these aura, warning signs: visual disturbances feeling weak on one side or the tingling. It is important to write it down.”

Your doctor will then be able to give you a proper diagnosis on the type of headache you are experiencing and that’s one pain taken care of.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Healthy Living gets inside your migraine”

  1. You know, I’ve REALLY found your blog really rather interesting. I can’t wait to read your next one, this has really struck a cord with me.

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