Headache Cure?


| 3 Comments
Thumbnail image for brain_shock.jpg

            

            After posting a blog about rebound headaches and talking to one of my classmates, I decided to do a follow up blog on two of the most common types of headaches/migraines people get, what they are and research that has been done on the headaches or treatment plans.  There are many more types than I have listed, but I chose the most common ones to discuss and hopefully help anyone out there who's having problems with them as well.  If you want to know more about rebound headaches or what happens during headaches in general you can look at my other blog here.

Cluster Headaches

            Cluster headaches are a type of chronic headaches.  According to MedlinePlus, they are also four times more common in men than in women.  They also are known to be hereditary and run in families.  Also on MedlinePlus, scientists say they "appear to be related to the body's sudden release of histamine or serotonin."  It may also involve the "hypothalamus", which is in the lower area of the brain. 

There are severe headaches that come out of nowhere.  They normally occur after falling asleep and are on one side of the head.  This is also a headache known to make people have pain behind one eye; but also affects anywhere from the "neck to the temples" (on one side).  It can also cause a stuffy nose, a flushed face and visible symptoms affecting the eye (redness, tearing).  They can occur daily for several months or years without stopping, but commonly have spurs of not getting them as well.  Here are the most common listed things on MedlinePlus that can trigger the headaches: alcohol, cigarette smoking, high altitudes, heat, preserved meats, medicines and cocaine. 

If you have been diagnosed with cluster headaches here's the treatment involved in stopping them.  First, try to avoid any of the "common listed" things that can trigger these headaches.  If you do then patients are told to treat the pain immediately and also try to prevent them before occurring.  Regular painkillers and OTC medicines take too long to stop them so the best bet (as of now) is prescription medications which can include Triptans, steroid medicines (such as prednisone) and injections of dihydroergotamine (DHE).  These all have specific side effects and must be reviewed with a doctor to see what works best for you.

Tension Headaches

            Tension headaches are often referred to as "stress headaches" and are the most common, affecting thirty to eighty percent of adults and three percent with chronic headaches (webmd.com).  These can be episodic or chronic.  Normally occurring in the middle of the day, they can last for thirty minutes or several days nonstop.  They get worse and worse the more frequently they occur.  The pain varies throughout the day but it usually always there.  It is a throbbing feeling that "affects the front, top, or sides of the head."  People normally describe being irritable, fatigue, sensitive to light/noise, muscle aching and have problems sleeping/ staying awake.  If they are chronic, they rarely keep people from doing their daily tasks.  Here are the most common causes of tension headaches: not enough sleep, poor posture, emotional/mental stress, depression, anxiety, fatigue, hunger and overexertion.  They can also be triggered by environmental factors like problems with family, friends, work and school.

            The easiest way to treat tension headaches is catching them early when they are still mild and not as frequent.  People will normally start with OTC pain relievers to ease the pain.  If that does not work, doctors usually prescribe a stronger pain reliever or muscle relaxant.  When these become chronic doctors will turn to "preventive treatments" which are medicines taking before getting the headaches.  These include antidepressants, blood pressure medications and anti-seizure medications.  Overall, medicine cannot cure them entirely and in all circumstances the person must recognize stressors and try to deal with them better; which could also be taken care of with stress management/relaxation trainings.

New Treatment Plan Revealed

            For both types of headaches people have stopped them by doing the solutions listed above and adjusting their lives so they don't trigger them as frequently.  For some people though, even avoiding all the triggers they will still continue to get chronic headaches.  A new study found a solution to these impossible headaches.

            A new study on sciencedaily.com stated "electric stimulation of the peripheral nerve reduced average headache intensity by more than 70 percent." Billy Huh, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor at The University of Texas and is a medical director of the Department of Pain Medicine there and helped with the research.  The procedure involves "a thin insulated wire that's implanted in the back of the head (occipital nerve) or in the forehead above the eyebrow (supraorbital nerve).  This delivers electric pulses to block the headache pain."  The study involved 46 patients who received peripheral nerve stimulation for seven years.  They were followed up with to ask about the results of the treatment and their satisfaction with it.  The study found that the "headache intensity and frequency reduced significantly."  The average number of headaches per month was half as often and 90 percent of the patients said they were satisfied with the treatment.  The complications that can occur are electrode migration, equipment problems and infection; but are said to lessen and become more accurate as they practice this on more patients.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for article-2092704-0906DADE000005DC-812_474x410.jpg

Overall, I think this sounds like a great discovery that could truly help with chronic headache sufferers.  The few problems I found with this study were only 46 people being tested on and the severity of the complications.  It said one complication is "electrode migration" which is more severe than it sounds.  When these are inserted they can "puncture a blood vessel leading to a stroke or stroke-like symptoms."  Also, if the patient has any cognitive dysfunction it could worsen and the procedure could affect the cognitive circuits that control the following; depression, laughter, memory problems, or other psychiatric features.  Since "doctors only pay attention when they think they're right", I would want to see the count for how many people had a stroke or other physical disabilities after the procedure because it could be a file drawer problem!  Once there's more research on it and more evidence of being beneficial, it might be the first known thing to take away people's chronic headaches for good.



Cluster Headaches:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000786.htm

Tension Headaches:

http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/guide/tension-headaches?page=2

New Treatment Plan Revealed:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131013163311.htm

Conclusion:

http://mdc.mbi.ufl.edu/surgery/am-i-a-candidate-for-deep-brain-stimulation-intro/what-are-the-risks-of-deep-brain-stimulation

Picture:

http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/electrical-shocks-help-the-brain-do-math

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2092704/500-electric-shock-machine-boost-learning-memory--scientists-worry-misused.html 


3 Comments

Alyssa,
This is an awesome post! I kept reading it and thinking of questions or comments only to find an answer or rebuttal. It's very interesting that they have classified headaches and there are remedies for them. I am one of the fortunate few that that rarely get a headache but I'll definitely try one of these treatments next time.

Alyssa,
This is an awesome post! I kept reading it and thinking of questions or comments only to find an answer or rebuttal. It's very interesting that they have classified headaches and there are remedies for them. I am one of the fortunate few that that rarely get a headache but I'll definitely try one of these treatments next time.

From someone who always seems to have a headache, I thought your post was very informative and interesting! Speaking from personal experience, I know what triggers my headaches and have had to learn the hard way on how to avoid them. For me, one of the biggest factors is lack of sleep from being too busy and just generally feeling stressed out. While over the counter medicines help, one thing that works especially well is yoga. It helps to clear my head and all the tension goes away. According to yogajournal.com, the onset of tension headaches could stem from our posture, which is why yoga can be extremely beneficial. Yoga helps you to focus on your body's alignment and makes you more aware of how you hold yourself. You can read more here, http://www.yogajournal.com/health/121 and see how practicing yoga could be very helpful with getting rid of headaches once and for all.

Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

Life after death
I'm sure you have heard stories of people on their death bed who have come back to life after…
An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?
We have all heard the expression, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." My question is, does eating…
Accents are weird
I have always wondered why people have accents. Why cant I look at a Spanish word, with all the…

Old Contributions