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Finding Your Triggers: Food & Elimination Diet

March 3, 2020 | 10:10am

When you have migraines, knowing your triggers can mean the difference between avoiding a headache or getting one. Even though science is still not sure about what exactly causes migraines, experts know that everyday things like foods, drinks, sounds, smells, and medications can trigger one. That’s why when people are first diagnosed with migraines, they are advised to keep a diary to record details of their daily activities. Trigger trackers help many migraine sufferers reduce the frequency of their attacks by helping them identify and eliminate potential migraine-inducing factors from their everyday lives. Every migraineur has different triggers. For example, caffeine can be very polarizing among migraine sufferers: studies have shown that caffeine can be both a headache trigger and an inhibitor, so its effects vary depending on the person taking it. Another example is sleep; some people report getting a migraine after sleeping too little and others after sleeping too much. But while some triggers are less common than others, different types of food remain at the top of many migraineurs list. If you...

Migraines – Scents & Sensitivity

March 3, 2020 | 10:16am

Even with so many advances in medicine and technology, trigger diaries are still one of the first things doctors recommend after a migraine diagnosis. That is in part because migraines aren't fully understood yet, so biological markers aren’t a reliable measurement. The other reason is that learning to recognize migraine triggers has been proven to improve patient-physician communication regarding treatment options and outcomes. Everyone has different triggers, but experts believe that some common offenders affect migraineurs more than others. For example, women are significantly more likely to experience migraines than men, and researchers believe that female hormones might be partly to blame. Stress is also a common trigger. In fact, one clinical study published in the journal Cephalgia found that almost 80 percent of respondents identified stress as a major headache trigger. Odors and scents also play a significant role in triggering and sometimes worsening migraines. What’s That Smell? Scents are something we tend to take for granted. As long as they are not offensive or extremely potent, we rarely notice what our surroundings smell...

Learn How to Speak Your Body’s Language: Nutritional Deficiencies and Their Consequences

April 8, 2020 | 6:35pm

Most people are aware of the short-term consequences of an unhealthy diet: weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tooth decay, etc. But in 2019, a group of doctors in the United Kingdom observed another complication stemming from a teenage boy’s junk food-based diet: blindness. In a case report published in the Annals of Medicine, researchers from the University of Bristol offer a cautionary tale for healthcare practitioners about the unexpected consequences of a deficiency-deprived diet, emphasizing the permanent damages it can cause to vision and the nervous system. The patient, a 14-year-old boy at the time, was first taken to his primary care practitioner complaining of fatigue. Blood panel tests showed that he had a vitamin B12 deficiency but otherwise was in good health. His doctor prescribed B12 injections and nutrition counseling. By the following year, the teenager had begun to develop vision and hearing difficulties, but tests still came back normal. These visions disturbances continued worsening over two years until he was eventually referred to a neuro-ophthalmologist. At 17, the boy was legally...

Fragmented Sleep Linked to Future Migraines, Study Says

March 3, 2020 | 4:28pm

Migraine sufferers are two to eight times more likely to suffer from sleep disturbances, and nearly half of migraineurs identify sleep deprivation as a trigger. Now, a new study published in the journal Neurology shows how fragmented sleep – the act of involuntarily waking up throughout the night – can trigger migraine headaches up to two days later. Investigators from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA conducted a prospective study of 98 adults who suffered from episodic migraines. For the study, participants were asked to log information on sleep, migraines, and other health behaviors in an electronic diary. In addition to self-reported data, researchers also analyzed data collected from a wrist actigraphy device. Over the course of six weeks, participants reported 870 headaches, with an average of 8.4 headaches per study volunteer. The average sleep duration was 7.7 hours. Surprisingly, the results of the study suggested that neither poor sleep quality (not resting during the night) nor short sleep duration (less than 6.5 hours) were associated with migraine...

Can Light Therapy Improve Migraines?

April 8, 2020 | 5:05pm

Some 5,000 years ago, it wasn't uncommon to find Egyptians sitting under shinning rays of colored light, hoping to find relief for all kinds of ailments. In special purpose-built rooms, colored crystals were strategically placed at different angles to allow sunlight to filter through them and shine different colors. These colors were associated with things like fertility, healing, protection, and more. Light therapy, also called phototherapy (or chronotherapy when light is combined with colors for added benefits), has been around for thousands of years. But Egyptians weren't the only ones harvesting the powers of the sun; experts have found evidence suggesting that ancient Greek, Roman, Chinese, and Indian civilizations all benefited from chronotherapy. Now, new research shows that our ancestors were probably onto something when they decided to use concentrated sunlight therapeutically. Light therapy has evolved quite a bit over the past five millennia. One of the first to study the therapeutic effects of light in modern medicine was an Islandic physician named Niels Finsen. In 1903, Dr. Finsen was awarded the Nobel Prize in...

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