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Migraines and headache disorders are common ailments that can cause a slew of unpleasant symptoms. From dull, sharp or throbbing pain to dizziness, nausea and vision issues, treating these disruptive conditions can improve quality of life for chronic sufferers. Here are some of the most commonly asked migraine questions:

Q. What are some of the most common causes of migraines?

A. For people prone to migraines, headaches can be triggered by strong odors that are usually artificial in nature, foods preserved with nitrates, stress, sleep deprivation, hunger, a change in the weather (particularly low-barometric pressure systems) and menstrual cycles.

Q. What treatment options are available?

A. Accurate diagnosis of the headache type is essential to relieve acute symptoms and prevent additional attacks. Some people have migraine headaches caused by myofascial trigger points in their neck or skull base muscles, requiring treatment of the trigger points. Obstructive sleep apnea requires a different treatment approach involving positive airway pressure ventilation, weight loss and possible surgery. Others may suffer headaches related to overuse of medications used to treat them, such as non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. Patients are weaned off these medications and onto something that does not have the same potential.

Q. What can be done to prevent migraines?

A. There are many treatment options available, from dietary supplements and oral medications to injections of Botox. People who have a strong family history of migraines may actually have a disorder of their mitochondria, which are microstructures in each cell that produce energy. The headaches may improve with over-the-counter supplements, such as riboflavin, carnitine and CoQ10, which can improve mitochondrial cofactors.

Q. When should someone seek medical attention?

A. It is reasonable to seek medical attention for migraines when the headaches occur with such frequency and severity that they disrupt a person’s daily activities. This threshold varies from person to person and will depend on individual circumstances. Someone should seek medical attention if they develop headaches without any identifiable cause, especially if they haven’t previously suffered headaches, or if the person notices a neurologic effect on their headaches (visual changes, weakness of an extremity or sensory loss).


Learn more about neurology services at Fairfield Medical Center.