health for your
my aching head!
72 ;e Costco Connection NOVEMBER 2010
By Chrystle Fiedler
A NORMAL HEADACHE can be a nuisance;
a migraine can stop you in your tracks.
An estimated 36 million Americans suffer
from migraines, an excruciating headache,
often on one side, with throbbing, searing
pain. It’s usually accompanied by an increased
sensitivity to light, noises and/or smells, and
nausea.“It’s the constellation of symptoms that
sets migraines apart from other headaches,”
says Costco member Fred Freitag, D.O., the
director of headache medicine at Baylor
University Medical Center in Dallas. “It also
differs in the level and the nature of the pain,
from moderate to severe, which means it’s
going to affect the ability of the person to
Experts are not sure exactly what causes a
migraine. “The current theory is that migraine
sufferers inherit a brain that is genetically
more hyper-excitable than people who don’t
have migraines,” says Dr. Freitag. “When they
are exposed to smells, sounds, weather changes,
hormonal influences, stress, changes in their
sleep schedule—that all has a neurological
input into those brain cells, triggering electri-
cal and vascular changes that lead to dilation
of the blood vessels.” If one of your parents has
migraines, you have a 50 percent chance of
having migraines. If both do, that increases to
There are several stages in a migraine.
Once you become familiar with them you can
learn how to manage your migraines. This can
make all the difference in heading off an attack
before it starts or reducing its severity.
The beginning of a migraine
About 70 percent of migraine sufferers
experience a prodrome, which is the first
phase of the migraine. The prodrome is a set
of warning symptoms that occur during the 12
to 24 hours leading up to the headache, when
chemical changes are going on in the brain
particularly relating to dopamine.
The Costco Connection Costco, Costco Pharmacy and Costco.com carry a wide variety of pain-relief products, as well as vitamins and supplements.
“The prodrome can take a lot of different
paths,” says Lawrence Newman, M.D., a
migraine specialist at the Headache Institute
in New York. “It can be hyperactivity or sluggishness, craving sweet or salty foods, irritability, muscle stiffness and excessive yawning.”
Why is it important to notice this? “If you start
treating in the prodrome stage you can prevent the headache,” says Dr. Newman.
Certain over-the-counter medicines, such
as Aleve, can help in the prodrome stage to
head off a migraine; take one or two at the outset and repeat according to directions.
Available by prescription, triptans—a
family of tryptamine-based drugs that constrict blood vessels in the brain and relieve
swelling—are another option. And triptan
combined with naproxen sodium, an anti-inflammatory, may provide faster pain relief
and prevent rebound headache. “With the
triptans about 20 percent of patients say
Avoid the three C’s. Caffeine, chocolate and cheese can trigger migraines. MSG is also a known trigger. Stay hydrated: Drink five to six glasses of water a day. Don’t skip meals. Breakfast is espe- cially important to get your day off to a good start. Make sure your meal contains protein. Use fruit to stabilize blood sugar during the day. Eat a piece of fruit before bed- time to avoid a morning headache. Pay attention to hormonal changes. If you’re a woman, be careful of poten- tial triggers around your period. The hormonal changes lower the threshold to turn on a migraine. Keep a headache diary to identify triggers. Take a B-complex vitamin including ribo- flavin (vitamin B2) to prevent migraines. Research published in the medical journal Neurology in 1998 showed that taking 400 mg of B2 daily for three months cut migraine attacks in half. Establish a sleep routine. Get up and go to bed at the same time each day. Stay active. Exercise regularly.—CF