07 December 2005

Part I: Festive rush triggers migraines

The holiday season should be a time of relaxation and joy. But it can be the most painful time of the year for many migraine and headache sufferers. Here's advice.

The December holiday season should be a time of quiet relaxation and festive joy for the family. But for many migraine and headache sufferers it is one of the most painful and difficult times of the year because it exposes them to many of the factors that trigger their headaches.

That’s the word from Dr Elliot Shevel, Maxillo-Facial and Oral Surgeon, and medical director at The Headache Clinic.

"The combination of summer heat, rich food, stress and noise serves to trigger headaches for many patients. For people who are predisposed to migraines and headaches, the stress of last-minute shopping, overcrowded malls and noise is almost guaranteed to trigger an attack. The good news, however, is that headache and migraine sufferers can take a number of steps to prevent or treat their headaches," says Shevel.

Signs of a migraine
The South African Medical Journal recently published a ground-breaking paper by Shevel which sheds new light on understanding the factors that make migraines and headaches a category of its own. The symptoms of migraine include throbbing head pain, nausea and sensitivity to noise and light. An attack can last between four and 72 hours. Migraines are also hereditary and three times more prevalent among women than men.

It is important that migraine patients, and those who live and work with it, understand that migraine pain is a real neurobiological disease that can be treated following proper diagnosis, says Shevel.

“Although patients can try to avoid triggers such as noisy shopping malls, this may come at the cost of reducing their quality of life and day-to-day functioning. People who suffer from migraine symptoms are urged to seek treatment so that they do not have to live with this debilitating condition,” says Shevel.

Headaches are usually complex conditions that may need to be diagnosed and treated by a number of specialists working together. Shevel therefore recommends that people suffering from migraines and headaches seek help from a multi-disciplinary team of medical experts.

Information supplied by The Headache Clinic.

November, 2005

Related articles:

Part II: Holiday time, headache time
Part III: Managing summer headache risks
Part IV: Headache? Relax and take a deep breath


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