their headache comes back two to 24 hours later,” says Dr. Newman. “By combining a triptan with an anti-inflammatory you often prevent this.” Supplementing with magnesium is espe- cially important during the prodrome because it relaxes blood vessels and reduces the likelihood that migraine-inducing elec- tric signals in the brain will be generated. “Sometimes, if you feel like you are getting a headache, if you take magnesium it can help stave it off,” says Alexander Mauskop, M.D., author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Migraines. The usual dose is 500 mg daily in the form of magnesium dioxide. If you take it regularly, it can cut your incidence of migraine in half. Another warning sign is the aura, which affects about 15 percent of migraine sufferers. A typical aura is a visual disturbance that starts about 20 minutes before the onset of the head- ache pain and is characterized by positive visual disturbances—bright flashes of light, jagged lines and distortion of images. Treatment often includes triptan, sometimes combined with an anti-inflammatory.
JUPITER IMAGES/CHRIS A RUSANK
Even if you miss treating your migraine in
the prodrome and the aura stages (or if you
don’t experience them), you can still shorten
headache time. “When you take a triptan
within the first hour of the headache, when it is
in the mild stage, it drastically shortens how
long the migraine lasts and how bad it becomes;
and it also reduces the likelihood that you’ll
have any side effects from the medicine, like
nausea, tingling or feeling of heat or flushing or
• Tension-type headaches are bilateral band-type headaches without nausea or sensitivity to light, noise or smells; they are usually triggered by stress, fatigue, anxiety or anger. Over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen or naproxen sodium usually offer relief. • Cluster headaches are intense, severe headaches; they afflict more men than women. The headaches are brief, last- ing 15 minutes to two hours on one side of the head. They occur every day or multi- ple times a day for about two weeks to two months and then spontaneously go away. Prescription treatments can include an injectable triptan, corticosteroids, vera- pamil (a calcium channel blocker) or anti- epileptic drugs. • Sinus headaches typically involve pain If it’s not a migraine— what is it?
pressure sensation over the neck or scalp,” says
Dr. Freitag. You can also take prescription anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants or over-the-counter drugs such as Aleve liquid gels and
Alka-Seltzer that are absorbed quickly.
Even doing simple things can help you
feel better, such as using an ice pack or even a
bag of frozen peas. “Put one over the area of
most intense pain and one on the back of the
neck,” says Dr. Freitag. Eat soda crackers and
sip cola over crushed ice to ease nausea. You
can also take over-the-counter remedies such
as Dramamine or Benadryl.
After the migraine is over
After the migraine is over, you enter the
phase called the postdrome, a kind of head-
ache hangover. “Taking a dose of anti-inflam-
matory medicine can be very helpful to put
the finishing touches on the headache phase,
like aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen or Excedrin
Migraine,” says Dr. Freitag. “But don’t take
Excedrin more than three times a week or it
will cause rebound.”
For more information about how to treat
migraines, visit the American Headache
www.achenet.org), the Migraine
Awareness Group (
the National Headache Foundation (www.
Chrystle Fiedler writes about health topics for
many national publications. She is a former
and pressure in the sinus area and discolored nasal discharge. When sinus infection is the cause, often fever is present, and X-rays or a sinus CAT scan will indicate a sinus blockage. Often migraineurs have sinus aggravation or irritation that seems like a sinus headache, but the migraine is the underlying cause of the pain. Once the migraine is treated they feel better. Prescription treatments can include antibiotics, local corticosteroids, anal- gesics and nasal vasoconstrictors. See your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for you.—CF
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NOVEMBER 2010 ;e Costco Connection 73