Posts Tagged ‘chronic migraine headaches’
Friday, June 15th, 2012
Migraines correlate with many mood disorders like depression and anxiety. So, how do you find true happiness if chronic pain is part of your life? Here are 4 tips that are scientifically proven to increase your happiness and overall sense of wellbeing, even if you suffer from chronic migraine headaches.
1) Give yourself some TLC. The way you treat your body affects your mood, as well. When you take good care of your body, you increase happiness, energy, and responsiveness to migraine therapies. Eat a healthy diet of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lots of water. Include at least 20-30 minutes per day of light exercise. Learn how to breathe deeply and keep your back straight. Allow yourself plenty of nighttime sleep. Supplement with beneficial vitamins, minerals, and herbs.
2) Keep on the sunny side! The power of positive thinking has been the focus of many studies on chronic pain such as migraines. Researchers found that pain sufferers who remain optimistic about their condition and try to stay in a good mood, despite physical pain, are most likely to respond well to pain treatment and find lasting relief.
3) Be your own best migraine advocate. Repeat to yourself: “I am bigger than my disease. Migraines don’t own me. I can learn how to manage my life around migraine disorder. The right treatment for me is out there- I just need to find it.” By telling yourself that you are powerful and capable, you increase your chances of fulfilling your self-prophecy. On the other hand, saying things like, “I can’t deal with this migraine” is self-defeating and a sure path to depression.
4) It’s okay to be wrong (even if you’re not). You’re going to get plenty of well-meaning advice from people about how to cure migraines. Everybody knows somebody who’s related to someone else who cured his or her migraines just by quitting chocolate. Take it in stride, and resist the urge to set the record straight next time somebody asks why you let your “really bad headaches” keep you at home so often. A person can only handle so many uphill battles in life, and this one is just not worth the sweat off your brow.
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Like this? Read more:
Migraines, Women, and Depression: 9 Myths and Truths
Can Anxiety Attacks cause Migraines?
Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Monday, February 20th, 2012
If you’re in the middle of filing for disability because of migraine headaches, you might want to take some notes: Recently, a US court rejected one migraine patient’s request to access her ADA rights after losing her job because of migraines. Why was she rejected, and what could she have differently to sway the judge in her favor? Here are some key points to consider before making your own appeal for disability from chronic migraine headaches.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Since the 2008 amendments that were made to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the following three guidelines are used to determine who may file for disability:
- 1) A person must suffer from a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,” the impairment being one that is recognized under ADA law.
- 2) A person must be able to identify one or more appropriate “major life activities,” which may include the ability to work and/or care for oneself.
- 3) A person must prove without doubt that the impairment substantially limits one or more of those activities.
Alethia Roselle Allen versus SouthCrest Hospital
Ms. Allen worked for several years as a medical assistant for SouthCrest hospital, performing tasks such as assisting doctors in medical procedures, calling in prescriptions, and discussing lab results with patients. For the first few years, when she worked for Dr. Matthew Stevens, she was fine.
However, upon transferring to Dr. Adam Myers, Ms. Allen started to suffer severe migraine headaches. While migraine headaches are not new to her- she used to get chronic migraines at the age of 18- this was her first time experiencing migraines since, while under employment for the SouthCrest hospital group.
During that year, Ms. Allen had to leave work because of migraines and chest pains, and she went straight to ER. She resigned from her position at SouthCrest hospital, stating that migraine headaches and hypertension made it impossible for her to perform her job duties.
“…sometimes it was like I could get up and my head was still banging. But I wasn’t dizzy or I wasn’t nauseated. So I could keep moving. Then other times, those are the times that I didn’t go to work.”
A few months after leaving her job, Ms. Allen stopped getting chronic migraines. Nine months later, during the time of her deposition, Ms. Allen, still unemployed, had not suffered a migraine headache since her resignation.
Disability from migraines- denied
It seems obvious from looking at her history that migraines, which are an ADA-recognized disability, kept her from performing a “major life activity” (employment), and that her employer failed to accommodate to her needs. Why then was she denied her ADA right for compensation?
Did migraines keep Ms. Allen from accomplishing major life activities like “working” and “caring for herself?”
According to Ms. Allen’s own words, she was able to complete her work duties during business hours while suffering from migraines, but would then “go home after work and crash and burn,” meaning that once she got home, she was unable to care for herself, nor do anything other than take migraine painkillers and go straight to bed.
“On the days I had headaches I would go home after work and “crash and burn.” That is to say, I could not function or take care of any of the routine matters of caring for myself. I could not do anything other than go home and go straight to bed.”
According to the court, the fact that Ms. Allen had to retire to bed immediately upon coming home from work, though unusual, does not prove that she was any less able to care for herself than other people who choose to go to sleep early every evening. In other words, her need to use sleep to escape her migraine symptoms don’t, according to ADA law, differentiate her from other people who forgo “caring for themselves,” i.e. eating and washing, in favor of going straight to bed.
Did migraines keep Ms. Allen from working under a broad range of jobs?
According to her own words, Ms. Allen was able to work in her previous station, in the office of Dr. Stevens, without suffering from migraines. It was only after she moved to Dr. Myers’ office, a much more harried and stressful environment, that she started getting regular migraine attacks.
This probably hurt her case the most, as according to ADA law, “an employee must be significantly restricted in the ability to perform either a class of jobs or a broad range of jobs in various classes as compared to the average person having comparable training, skills, and abilities.” Because she was able to work for one doctor and not the other, she failed to prove that her migraines prevented her from working in her basic professional field, or her “major life activity of work.”
What she failed to prove
Here are some points that could have significantly improved her case and proven that migraine headaches significantly interfered with her “major life activity of caring for herself:”
- Because of migraines, Ms. Allen had to go to bed earlier than usual.
- Ms. Allen’s migraine medications made her sleep longer than usual.
- Because of her migraine medication, she woke up later in the morning than usual.
- Because of having to go to sleep early to relieve her migraines, Ms. Allen was unable to care for herself, stating specific activities that she was unable to perform.
- On evenings when she had migraines, her ability to care for herself was significantly compromised.
Please tell us…
- Have you been successful in obtaining disability compensation due to suffering from chronic migraines?
- Do you have any advice to offer migraine sufferers contemplating filing under their ADA right?
- As always, we welcome your comments!
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Read more about migraine law:
Migraines at Work- Can my Employers Fire me from my Job?
Social Security Disability for Migraine- 5 Tips for Filing
Cindy McCain Gives Voice to Migraine Syndrome
5 Free Ways to Support your fellow Migraine Headache Sufferer
Allen v. SouthCrest Hospital
Tenth Circuit Holds Employee’s Migraines Not a Disability Under ADA
Thursday, June 9th, 2011
“It’s just Stress” and other Fallacies- The truth about Migraines: Migraines are debilitating neurological disorder that interferes with daily life, in and outside of the home. Chronic migraine headaches are one of the leading causes of disability, and account for millions of hospital visits to ER every year. Migraine symptoms, such as pulsating head pain, intense nausea and stomach cramping, acute sensitivity to strong scents, loud noise and bright lighting, make life unbearable for the migraine sufferer.
Still, families, friends and coworkers of migraine patients have difficulty relating, as there are many incorrect stereotypes and misconceptions that surround migraine illness, regardless of the best efforts of migraine awareness groups, such as M.A.G.N.U.M. and the World Headache Alliance, and online migraine support sites such as Migraine.com, Help for Headaches and WebMD- Migraines. (See Top 20 Websites for Migraine Headache Patients.)
Below is a list of 6 oft-repeated myths about migraines:
Migraine Myth #1: Migraines are like any other headaches.
Not true. Clenched muscles, usually in the upper back, shoulders, and neck regions, cause tension headaches. Common stress headache pain can range from mild to moderately severe; over-the-counter pain medications are sufficient treatments for the common headache.
Migraine headaches are a neurological illness. Constricted blood vessels cause migraine headaches, and the pain fluctuates between moderate to debilitating. The triggers that cause migraines are numerous: food, weather, stress, hormones, light, scents and sleep disturbances. Only a neurologist who specializes in migraine therapy can recommend proper treatment. Migraine Pop Quiz: How Well do you Understand your Headaches?
Migraine Myth #2: There’s no real cure for migraines.
Actually, there’s no one cure for migraines. Many factors need consideration when finding an effective migraine treatment; the task can sometimes seem fruitless. Don’t let pessimism keep you from finding migraine headache relief. Seek a qualified neurologist who specializes with migraines, and stay informed by frequently visiting online migraine forums and blogs. Alternative Migraine Treatments: Thinking outside of the Botox
Migraine Myth #3: Stress only triggers stress headaches, not migraines.
Stress is the leading cause of all headaches, including migraines and tension headaches. So how does one tell the difference between a migraine attack and a stress headache? Migraine pain attacks one side of the head only. Tension headaches are described as a tight band circling the head.
Migraine Myth #4: Migraines are associated with mental illness.
There is a high correlation between migraines, depression and anxiety, but that does not mean that all migraine patients have emotional disorders or need antidepressants. There is currently no proof that mental illness of any kind causes migraines. However, one must take into account the emotional strain chronic migraine sufferers experience. It is common for migraine patients to go through phases or depression, nervousness or anxiety while learning to cope with their condition. Stop Your Next Panic Attack in 4 Simple Steps
Migraine Myth #5: Migraine attacks always impair your ability to function.
The symptoms of migraines can range from moderate to severe. At its worst, migraine pain can be excruciating to the point that the only option is to take your medication and wait out the storm in a dark, quiet room. The fact that you are able to withstand head pain while running errands, working at the computer or trying to relax doesn’t contradict the nature of migraines, nor does it mean that you must endure the suffering. Top 10 Headache Symptoms that Point to Migraines
Migraine Myth #6: Migraineurs are usually hypochondriacs.
This is probably the most hurtful notion of all, because it forces the migraine sufferer to bear the burden of proof. Short of carrying around a brain scan imaging report, there’s little one can do prove to a skeptic that your headache symptoms are not imaginary. You can’t see a migraine; the debilitating symptoms are unobservable to all except a qualified neurologist. But the proof is available through multiple medical reports, scientific breakthroughs and social statistics.
Read more about migraine stigma and coping mechanisms:
Migraine Sufferer to World: It’s not just a Headache, People!
10 Clues your should Include in your Headache Diary Today
Monday, May 30th, 2011
Millions of Americans suffer from chronic migraine headaches. So why do you feel all alone? Your closest family members and friends don’t always understand the depth of your pain, but know that there are vast communities out there who can help you understand your migraine symptoms, share their experiences with migraine remedies and provide emotional support.
When Alice had a migraine, she found even the pretty things were too much to bear.
Here are 20 excellent migraine resources, listed in alphabetical order, including non-profit headache research sites, personal blogs and chronic migraine patient forums:
1) ACPA – American Chronic Pain Association: To provide support to patients diagnosed with chronic migraines and to their families, to help them find appropriate healthcare, education and to raise public awareness about migraines.
2) American Pain Society: Another excellent resource for finding out about recent advances in migraine treatment and other pain management tools.
3) Blog Carnival: A rotating collaboration of blogs which address health issues such as migraine headaches.
4) The Daily Headache: Blogger Kerrie Smyres writes about the issues migraineurs want to know about, including research, opinions and forum.
5) Head Wise: Migraine blogger Steph shares some inspiring life stories about her battle with migraines.
6) Help for Headaches: Managed by leading migraine expert Teri Robert, author of “Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches,” Help for Headaches is a great landing base for all topics related to migraines and other headache symptoms. Robert’s posts can also be viewed on Migraine.com and Health Central’s My Migraine Connection.
7) LiveJournal: Online migraine patient support group.
8) MAGNUM: The National Migraine Association: Their mission is to raise public awareness about migraines as a debilitating neurological illness. Find out how you can help.
9) Meetup: Find out about local migraine support groups, and meet other headache sufferers in your area.
10) Migraine.com: Join the largest virtual community of migraine patients and experts on the web. Migraine.com features articles written by some of the top experts in migraine treatment, education and social issues, including the Migraine Girl, Teri Robert, Diana Lee, Prof. Joanna Kempner and Dr. Whyte.
11) The Migraine Action Association: Formerly a British association, this website features quarterly newsletters, a telephone hotline and current migraine information.
12) Migraine Chick: You’ve seen her pics on some of our blog posts. Blogger and artist Deborah Leigh shares her unique, thought-provoking attitude about the social impact of migraines on our culture.
13) MigrainePage.com: Online community of migraine sufferers. Participate in chat discussions, forums or the online migraine journal.
14) Migraine Puppet: Anecdotes about life and pain management, and an updated list of blog posts by fellow migraine patients.
15) Migrainista: Unique, nostalgic and sometimes controversial insights by blogger Migrainista.
16) The National Headache Foundation: The world’s largest non-profit voluntary organization for finding migraine treatment clinics, resources and local community programs.
17) Painfully Speaking: Blogger Jessica opens up about her battles with chronic headache pain and anxiety.
18) Somebody Heal Me: Famous blogger Diana Lee writes about chronic pain management and headaches, and shares her database of sites, blogs and organizations which deal with a variety of health issues.
19) WebMD- Migraines: WebMD is a comprehensive website which provides health tips, information, slideshows and support for medical issues from A to Z; their migraine page is particularly helpful.
20) WHA- World Headache Alliance: Migraine news, global headache awareness activities and links to support groups.
Some good reads:
Migraines Caused by Eye Strain? Tinted Glasses can Help
Migraine Sufferer to World: It’s not just a Headache, People!
7 Headache Categories:Which Type of Headache do you Have?
Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
Vincent Van Gogh might have suffered from hallucinations and nightmares, but he’s got nothing on the majority of chronic migraine sufferers. Migraine headache symptoms- throbbing head pain, nausea, ultra-sensitivity to bright lights and noise- make life unbearable for the millions of Americans who experience them regularly, not to mention inconvenient. ( “Of course I’m coming to your wedding! Unless I get a migraine…”)
Migraine Sufferer to World: It’s not just a Headache, People!
It’s no wonder that yesterday’s starving, tormented artist has morphed into today’s equally tormented, financially strapped migraine patient, depicting her source of grief through modern art, poetry or video montage.
Recently, the Los Angeles Times featured a story about patients with brain disorders who have learned to release their pent up emotions through creative expression. Scientists hope to learn more about the workings of the brain by analyzing their artwork.
Another piece, featuring the work of migraine sufferer and author Dr. Oliver Sacks, was published in 2008 by the New York Times; based on his book “Migraine,” this slideshow, migraine art, illustrates the classic migraine with aura through a series of geometrical images and bold, strategic grafting.
Russian artist Olea Nova is a celebrated artist who uses florid watercolors to interpret the excruciating “lightning bolt” pain described by many who suffer severe migraine headaches. This collection of migraine art delves deep into the disturbing and often macabre experiences commonly felt by victims of migraines.
More information on migraine art can be found at the Migraine Aura Foundation.
Migraine on my Mind, by Deborah Leigh, Flickr
Visual Disturbance, by Stinging Eyes, Flickr
Migraine, by quinn.anya, Flickr
Monday, April 11th, 2011
There are so many different kinds of headaches (migraines, migraines with aura, tension headaches, cluster headaches), and so many possible headache triggers that sometimes it seems like all you have to do is blink and- oh no, hear comes another headache! What am I doing wrong?
Some headaches are hereditary, but many are preventable, if you know what the common triggers and migraine symptoms are.
Here are 11 common headache triggers:
1- Weight As if you needed another excuse to go on a diet, recent studies confirm a high correlation between obesity and frequent migraines, noting that women with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 were 35% more likely to suffer from chronic migraine headaches than women who had a lower BMI; women who were morbidly obese and had a BMI of 40 were found to be 80% more likely than others to suffer migraines. Also read Weight Loss Surgery May Reduce Migraines
2- Personality Yes, it’s personal. Certain people are more likely than others to suffer headaches just because of their temperament and behavior; people who become easily agitated, obsess over minor details or have difficulty going with the flow are very likely giving themselves their own stress headaches.
3- Sex No, being a woman doesn’t guarantee migraines, although there does seem to be a correlation. Sexual activity sometimes triggers headaches, according to one study in which 46% of participants claimed that their headaches occurred following sexual intercourse.
4-day weekends Believe it or not, there is such thing as getting too much rest; oversleeping on that holiday weekend vacation could cause you to get a sleep hangover, so try to stick to the same work schedule as usual and resist the temptation to sleep in.
5- Bathroom paint Many bathroom paints emit powerful fumes which cause intense headaches, although many paint manufacturers have switched to more environmentally-friendly, odorless low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint formulas.
6- Dehydration This one should seem like a no-brainer, but many of us still neglect to keep ourselves hydrated, despite yearly warnings from health officials every summer. A dehydration can be avoided by drinking plenty of juices and herbal teas, in addition to H2O.
7- Missing meals It’s important to recognize your hunger cues when they strike, and headaches are a common symptom of malnutrition.
8- Caffeine overdose As usual, all things in moderation; one cup of coffee every now and then might relieve minor headaches, but 4 cups in a row is likely to bring on a storm of migraines. Find out if caffeine addiction is causing your headaches, and try to wean yourself off gently.
9- Being a couch potato Resist the temptation to watch The Next Food Network Star television marathon; studies show that people who are sedentary are more likely to suffer from headaches, in addition to a host of other health problems, than those who include at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 5 times per week.
10- Not getting your z’s You still thing you don’t have time for more than 6 hours of sleep per night? Studies have proven that people who sleep no more than 6 hours at night are more likely to have migraine headaches than individuals who get their proper 8 hours of sleep every night.
11- Eating the wrong food Some foods are more likely to trigger headaches in people, while some nutrients like magnesium and B vitamins are great for sustaining neurological health in migraine patients . Find out what your food triggers are and eat accordingly. Common triggers are aged wine or cheese, chocolate, MSG, beer and processed meats like salami and pepperoni.
4 Headaches that Require Emergency Intervention
20 iPad Apps for Migraine Sufferers