GPS for Your Headaches
Head pounding? Here's your roadmap to the most common headache pains and how to get relief asap
Throbbing pain accompanied by nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to light and sound. About one third of people will experience a "classic aura," according to Jeffrey Lazarus, M.D. This is like a warning signal -- a flash of light, dizziness or nausea -- that occurs anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes before the headache pain.
Your blood vessels are constricting and dilating. As your nerve endings stretch, pain chemicals are released, giving you that hit-by-a-train headache you dread.
Shortcut to relief:
For quick relief, build yourself a migraine panic room -- a dark, quiet place where you can relax and give yourself a break from pain-causing stimuli. "Unfortunately, over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen can often lead to rebound headaches when you suffer from chronic migraines," says Dr. Lazarus. "If you're taking the medication too often and you stop taking it, you'll just be stuck with another headache."
Down the road:
If your migraine headaches become chronic, meaning you experience debilitating pain multiple times a month for long periods, you may want to consider more creative options. Dr. Lazarus specializes in medical hypnosis, coaching patients to recognize the signs of oncoming migraines and stopping them by creating a focused, empowered state of mind. "There is something we call highway hypnosis," says Dr. Lazarus. "We've all had the experience of driving in the car, thinking deep thoughts, and we miss our turnoff. We're not asleep, we were simply in a highly focused state of mind." Teaching patients how to be in this highly focused state allows them to realize things they could never do before -- mentally putting a "stop sign" on oncoming pain. Dr. Salvado suggests Botox treatments for those with chronic migraines (more than 15 days a month warrants Botox treatments). "The whole procedure takes about five minutes. I inject the Botox across the forehead and between the eyebrows. It lasts about three months and often provides drastic relief."
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