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Headaches-Migraine


Headaches can be caused by many things, including illness, stress and lack of sleep. They may also be triggered by several common foods, and simply changing your diet could be the most effective treatment. Once you and your doctor have ruled out other potentially more serious causes for your headaches, take a look at what you eat every day and see if eliminating common trigger foods eliminates your headaches.

A migraine is a common type of headache that may occur with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. In many people, a throbbing pain is felt only on one side of the head.

Some people who get migraines have warning symptoms, called an aura, before the actual headache begins. An aura is a group of symptoms, including vision disturbances that are a warning sign that a bad headache is coming.

Migraine headaches tend to first appear between the ages of 10 and 45. Sometimes they may begin later in life.
• Migraines occur more often in women than men,
• Migraines may run in families.
• Some women, but not all, may have fewer migraines when they are pregnant.

A migraine is caused by abnormal brain activity, which is triggered by stress, certain foods, environmental factors, or something else. However, the exact chain of events remains unclear. Today, most medical experts believe the attack begins in the brain, and involves various nerve pathways and chemicals. The changes affect blood flow in the brain and surrounding tissues.

Migraine attacks may be triggered by:
• Alcohol
• Allergic reactions
• Bright lights
• Certain odors or perfumes
• Changes in hormone levels (which can occur during a woman's menstrual cycle or with the use of birth control pills)
• Changes in sleep patterns
• Exercise
• Loud noises
• Missed meals
• Physical or emotional stress
• Smoking or exposure to smoke

Symptoms
Vision disturbances, or aura, are considered a "warning sign" that a migraine is coming. The aura occurs in both eyes and may involve any or all of the following:
• A temporary blind spot
• Blurred vision
• Eye pain
• Seeing stars or zigzag lines
• Tunnel vision

Not every person with migraines has an aura. Those who do usually develop one about 10 - 15 minutes before the headache. However, it may occur just a few minutes to 24 hours beforehand. A headache may not always follow an aura.

Migraine headaches can be dull or severe. The pain may be felt behind the eye or in the back of the head and neck. For many patients, the headaches start on the same side each time. The headaches usually:
• Feel throbbing, pounding, or pulsating
• Are worse on one side of the head
• Start as a dull ache and get worse within minutes to hours
• Last 6 to 48 hours
Other symptoms that may occur with the headache include:
• Chills
• Increased urination
• Fatigue
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea and vomiting
• Numbness, tingling, or weakness
• Problems concentrating, trouble finding words
• Sensitivity to light or sound
• Sweating

Symptoms may linger even after the migraine has gone away. Patients with migraine sometimes call this a migraine "hangover." Symptoms can include:
• Feeling mentally dull, like your thinking is not clear or sharp
• Increased need for sleep
• Neck pain

Treatment
There is no specific cure for migraine headaches. The goal is to prevent symptoms by avoiding or changing your triggers.
A good way to identify triggers is to keep a headache diary. Write down:
• When your headaches occur
• How severe they are
• What you've eaten
• How much sleep you had
• Other symptoms
• Other possible factors (women should note where they are in their menstrual cycle)

When you do get migraine symptoms, try to treat them right away. The headache may be less severe. When migraine symptoms begin:
• Drink water to avoid dehydration, especially if you have vomited
• Rest in a quiet, darkened room
• Place a cool cloth on your head

Many different medications are available for people with migraines. Medicines are used to:
• Reduce the number of attacks
• Stop the migraine once early symptoms occur
• Treat the pain and other symptoms

If you have frequent migraines, your doctor may prescribe medicine to reduce the number of attacks. Such medicine needs to be taken every day in order to be effective.
 

Dietary Treatment:
Dietary modifications that exclude common food triggers may help you pinpoint just what is causing your headaches. Although the list of potential food triggers is long, the most common are chocolate, red wine, caffeine, MSG, Aspartame, cured meats, aged cheese, nuts, nitrate, sulfites, alcohol and ice cream.

Recent studies show that omega-three fatty acids, the kind found in fish oil, may help prevent migraines. Caffeine, found in coffee, tea and colas, as well as more "hidden" sources like chocolate and some medications including Anacin, Excedrin, Actifed can exacerbate headache.

Headaches may also be triggered by chronobiologic factors (sleep schedules), hormonal changes, environmental factors, head or neck pain (of another cause), physical exertion, stress and anxiety and trauma to the head. Dietary factors such as alcohol and tyramine containing foods are also known triggers. Tyramine is an essential amino acid made in the body. It is a protein found in foods, which is chemically broken down and used by various cells in the body. Tyramine cannot be found on food labels, but its sister chemical phenylalanine can and should be avoided.

 

Food Groups  Foods Allowed  Foods to Watch/Caution
Beverages • Decaffeinated coffee and colas
• Caffeine sources should be limited to 2 cups a day including coffee, tea, colas
• Fruit juices, club soda
• Wine (especially red)
• Beer
• Vermouth
• Champagne
• Non-alcoholic fermented beverages
Milk • Whole
• 2%
• Skim
• Chocolate
• Buttermilk
Dairy Products • Cottage cheese
• Velveeta, American or synthetic cheese
• Yogurt in 1/2 cup preparations or less
• Ice Cream
• Aged or processed cheeses including cheddar, swiss, mozzarella, parmesan, romano, brick, brie, camembert, gouda, gruyere, emmantaler, stilton, provolone, roquefort, blue
• food containing cheese such as pizza, macaroni and cheese, yogurt and sour cream
Meats, Poultry, Fish • Freshly prepared meats, fish, poultry
• Eggs
• Tuna fish
• Aged, dried, salted, smoked, cured or processed meats and those containing nitrates
• Pickled, dried or smoked herring
• Chicken livers
• Sausage, bacon, salami, pepperoni, bologna, hot dogs, pates, liverwurst, and marinated meats
• Any meat prepared with tenderizers
Vegetables Asparagus, string beans, beets, carrots, spinach, pumpkin, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, broccoli, potatoes, onions cooked in foods, Chinese pea pods, navy beans, soy beans  Raw onions, fava or broad beans, lima beans, pea pods, snow peas, pickles, olives, sauerkraut
Fruits Apples, applesauce, cherries, apricots, peaches  Limit to 1/2 cup per day: oranges, grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple, lemon, lime, avocados, bananas, figs, raisins, dried fruits, papaya, passion fruit, plums
Breads, Cereals •Commercially prepared yeast products leavened with baking powder such as biscuits, pancakes, coffee cakes, etc.
• All cooked and dry cereals
• All pasta
• Homemade yeast breads
• Fresh coffee cake
• Donuts
• Yeast and yeast extracts
• Sourdough breads
• Breads or crackers containing cheese, chocolate and nuts
Flavor Enhancers /
Food Preservatives
  • Foods containing MSG, nitrates, nitrites, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, Chinese foods,
• Instant foods such as canned soup, TV dinners
• Processed meats
• Potato chips
• Self-basting turkeys
• Many boxed food items
Nuts and Seeds   • All nuts, peanuts, peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds


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