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Migraines and Headaches

Migraines and Headaches

Migraines are a common cause of headaches and are typically more common in women. They are frequently associated with triggers like physical activity, lack of sleep, stress, certain foods, hormonal changes, light and sound among others. Migraines can cause severe debilitating pain that can last for a few hours and can be associated with light and/or sound sensitivity, nausea and vomiting. In susceptible individuals, certain triggers can lead to a release of chemical messengers in the brain that will cause dilation of blood vessels and irritation of trigeminal nerve endings that can cause symptoms of a migraine headache.

Tension type headaches are the most common type of headaches and are differentiated from migraines based on symptoms that are typically dull, non localized and can last for hours to days. Cervicogenic headaches originate from the upper three cervical nerves and can be exacerbated by neck movement and improved with diagnostic cervical nerve blocks.   A diagnosis is made by the typical characteristics of a migraine headache and a normal neurologic exam.

Migraine and Headache Treatments

The treatment includes avoiding triggers, and medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, triptans etc. as part of abortive therapy once symptoms have started. For patients with chronic headaches, medications such as beta blockers, antidepressants and anticonvulsants are used on a daily basis for prevention of headaches. Additionally, injections of botox can be used for prevention of headaches. Other common causes of headaches include tension type headaches and cervicogenic headaches.

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