Wednesday, September 6, 2017

If you get Migraines, you need to know this.


I don’t suffer from migraines but for a while, I thought I did. It turns out that the debilitating, days-long, nauseating headaches I got were a reaction to a common artificial sweetener. Finding out that I needed to avoid anything with Aspartame totally changed my life. However, I have several close friends and family who suffer from migraines and getting relief for them is not as simple as cutting out Diet Coke.


That’s why when Med-IQ contacted me about working with them to share information about preventing and treating these headaches, I really wanted to help. As someone who teaches Public Health and who suffered myself, I was happy to share information that will help people get better, faster treatment and relief. 

Part of working together meant getting expert information. I spoke with Robert G. Kaniecki, MD (Chief of the Headache Division and Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) and Stewart J. Tepper, MD (Professor of Neurology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth) to find out more about chronic headaches and what patients can do to get the best possible care. During our conference call a couple things stood out. 

Are you having really bad headaches? Or are they chronic migraines?
This distinction is important. Getting the right diagnosis quickly speeds up the process of getting the most appropriate treatment. Headaches and migraines are different, and chronic migraines are different still. You know that your headaches might be migraines if: 
  • Untreated, they last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours and
  • They are accompanied by nausea and/or light/sound sensitivity
  • They may be chronic migraines if you're suffering headache symptoms of any kind 15 or more days of the month
Three most important things patients should know
The most important thing a patient can do to get diagnosed and treated appropriately is to show up at their appointments ready to tell their docs exactly what is going on. And these headache physicians were really, really specific about the type of things docs want to hear. 

Basically, to get the best diagnosis and treatment, you need to show up and talk about three things: 
  • Time: How many days per month do you have headaches and approximately how long do they last?
  • Symptoms: Do you have nausea with the headaches? What about throbbing? Any other symptoms? Light sensitivity? Noise sensitivity?
  • Impact: How does the headache impact your life? What level of disability do migraines cause? Does it prevent you from going to work or school? Are you unable to take care of your children? Does it inhibit your ability to move through your day? This is critical information to share.
The headache doctors I spoke with really wanted patients to know that if they showed up at their first appointment ready to outline those three points, they would most likely receive a much quicker diagnosis and clearer path to prevention and relief. 

I know this sounds really simple, that communication with your doctor can make a big difference in the quality of your treatment. But since most of us only get a few minutes of actual face time with our physicians, it’s really important to make the most of it by telling them exactly what can help them help you feel better.


This post is sponsored by Med-IQ and supported by an educational grant by Teva Pharmaceuticals The goal is to improve patient outcomes through education.

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2017

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