Managing Migraine Symptoms Ever had a migraine? They are not fun if you’ve experienced one. A migraine can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on just one side of the head. It's often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can cause significant pain for hours to days and can be so severe that the pain is disabling. Warning symptoms known as aura may occur before or with the headache. These can include flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling on one side of the face or in your arm or leg. Causes Though migraine causes aren't understood, genetics and environmental factors appear to play a role. Migraines may be caused by changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway. Imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin, which helps regulate pain in your nervous system may also be involved. Researchers are still studying the role of serotonin in migraines. Serotonin levels drop during migraine attacks. This may cause your trigeminal nerve to release substances called neuropeptides, which travel to your brain's outer covering (meninges). The result is migraine pain. Other neurotransmitters play a role in the pain of migraine, including calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). Migraine triggers A number of factors may trigger migraines, including:
- Hormonal changes in women.
Fluctuations in estrogen seem to trigger headaches in many women. Women with a history of migraines often report headaches immediately before or during their periods, when they have a major drop in estrogen
- Others have an increased tendency to develop migraines during pregnancy or menopause
- Hormonal medications, such as oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy, also may worsen migraines. Some women, however, find their migraines occur less often when taking these medications.
- Foods. Aged cheeses, salty foods and processed foods may trigger migraines. Skipping meals or fasting also can trigger attacks.
- Food additives. The sweetener aspartame and the preservative monosodium glutamate (MSG), found in many foods, may trigger migraines.
- Drinks. Alcohol, especially wine, and highly caffeinated beverages may trigger migraines.
- Stress. Stress at work or home can cause migraines.
- Sensory stimuli. Bright lights and sun glare can induce migraines, as can loud sounds. Strong smells — including perfume, paint thinner, secondhand smoke and others — can trigger migraines in some people.
- Changes in wake-sleep pattern. Missing sleep or getting too much sleep may trigger migraines in some people, as can jet lag.
- Physical factors. Intense physical exertion, including sexual activity, may provoke migraines.
- Changes in the environment. A change of weather or barometric pressure can prompt a migraine.
- Medications. Oral contraceptives and vasodilators, such as nitroglycerin, can aggravate migraines.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Ever heard of GERD? Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach. Many people, including pregnant women, suffer from heartburn or acid indigestion caused by GERD. Doctors believe that some people suffer from GERD due to a condition called hiatal hernia. In most cases, GERD can be relieved through diet and lifestyle and dietary changes; however, some people may require medication or surgery. What Other Factors Contribute to GERD? In addition to Gastrointestinal Reflux and Hiatal hernias, dietary and lifestyle choices may contribute to GERD. Certain foods and beverages, including chocolate, peppermint, fried or fatty foods, coffee, or alcoholic beverages, may trigger reflux and heartburn. Studies show that cigarette smoking also causes GERD, as well as obesity and pregnancy. What Are the Symptoms of Heartburn? Heartburn, also called acid indigestion, is the most common symptom of GERD and usually feels like a burning chest pain beginning behind the breastbone and moving upward to the neck and throat. Many people say it feels like food is coming back into the mouth leaving an acid or bitter taste. The burning, pressure, or pain of heartburn can last as long as 2 hours and is often worse after eating. Lying down or bending over can also result in heartburn. Many people obtain relief by standing upright or by taking an antacid that clears acid out of the esophagus. Heartburn pain is sometimes mistaken for the pain associated with heart disease or a heart attack, but there are differences. Exercise may aggravate pain resulting from heart disease, and rest may relieve the pain. Heartburn pain is less likely to be associated with physical activity. But you can’t tell the difference, so seek immediate medical help if you have any chest pain. How Common Is Heartburn and GERD? More than 60 million American adults experience heartburn at least once a month, and more than 15 million adults suffer daily from heartburn. Many pregnant women experience daily heartburn. Recent studies show that GERD in infants and children is more common than previously recognized and may produce recurrent vomiting, coughing, and other respiratory problems. Are you having an increased amount of heartburn or indigestion and think you may have something else going on? Make an appointment with your doctor today.
Natural and Quick Anxiety Remedies When You Need Them Everyone has anxiety at some point in their life. When anxiety strikes, you need fast relief. Here are six ways to tame your mild anxiety, prior to seeing your doctor. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem in the U.S., affecting about one out of five people at any given time, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Anxiety can take many forms — generalized anxiety disorder (constant worrying about everyday things), obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder. While medications to treat these anxiety conditions are often an important component in the management of anxiety, there is also many natural, do-it-yourself techniques that can help calm you down, either in place of medications or as a supplement to them. Next time you're too tense to cope, consider trying one of these natural options for relief.
- Laugh it off. Laugh. Laugh out loud. Laugh at anything. Make yourself laugh.Even if you do a fake laugh, you get an instant hit of dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical that controls feelings of reward and pleasure. If you're too tense to laugh on your own, try using technology.. For example, find a laugh track phone app. Just google phone apps for laughing.
- Schedule relaxation. Consider sitting down and looking at your schedule. Find some time to schedule it in and put it on your calendar if necessary. Studies helping shy men with social anxiety found that a period of relaxation helped them, lowering their heart rates after they interacted with people.
- Ask your doctor about taking GABA. Gamma-aminobutyric acid, (GABA) is a brain transmitter that counteracts the action of another neurotransmitter, glutamate that increases your excitability.The supplement may help calm anxious people. Studies have shown that individuals who ate chocolate enriched with GABA before tackling an arithmetic task were less stressed after completing it than those who didn't have the GABA-infused chocolate.
- Try lavender. Try lavender essential oil to calm yourself,The smell of lavender is very relaxing. You can put it into diffuser, spritz it on yourself during the day, or rub it gently into your temple.
- Ground yourself. When anxiety hits, do something tangible and change the subject within your brain. For example, take your house keys out of your pock, run your fingers along the keys. Or grab an ice cube and hold it as long as you can. That sensation will give you 'grounding and distract you from the anxious feelings.
- Face the fear. If something makes you scared, and gives you anxiety, face your fear. If you feel shy, go out to social functions. Scared of heights, climb higher than you have before and face your height fear. Exposure therapy, or facing the fear, helps you learn to live with risk and uncertainty.
Five Healthy Snacking Ideas If you’re trying to eat healthier or lose weight, we have a few ideas for you on the snack front. Snacking is normal, it’s hard not to snack a little bit throughout the day, but make sure you’re choosing healthy snacks instead of items that are bad for you. Snacks should generally be a combination of a protein, healthy fat and fiber. Though, they should not be a substitute for a meal. The key is to make sure you’re snacking smartly. Snacks should be a combination of a protein, healthy fat and fiber. You don't need to be a calorie counter, but it’s important to note — so your snacks don’t become meals — that they should be kept to approximately 150-200 calories. Seven Healthy snack ideas include: 1. Roasted Artichoke Hearts Artichoke hearts are ridiculously easy to make (see simple recipe here), They satisfy that crunchy craving while providing fiber and beneficial nutrients such as anti-inflammatory phytochemicals that are great for your overall health. The fiber will help you feel fuller longer and feed those beneficial bacteria in your gut. 2. Beetroot Dip A combo of greek yogurt and beets is the base for this dip (see beetroot dip recipe here). It is loaded with protein, which helps keep your hunger at bay by providing satiety and boosts your metabolism too. Plus, the beets offer beneficial nutrients such as B vitamins, iron and magnesium. Feel free to load up on the raw veggies, but keep the dipping to a few tablespoons. If beets aren’t your thing, you can simply grab your favorite Greek yogurt and top it with berries, sliced almonds or coconut flakes instead. 3. Rosemary Spiced Nuts Rosemary spiced nuts (see the spiced nut recipe here) are nutrient powerhouses packed with protein, fat and fiber, all which help to curb cravings so you don’t overeat at your next meal. They are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants such as vitamin E. Grab a small handful next time you’re hungry or give these rosemary spiced nuts a try. Adding herbs such as rosemary will make your snacks feel extra satisfying. 4, Apple Fries and Dip These may not be the real fries you are used to, but they are just as tasty (see Apple fries recipe here). The apple slices are high in disease-fighting antioxidants and flavonoids, while the peanut butter and Greek yogurt dip packs in healthy fats and protein. For an extra flavorful and nutritious boost, sprinkle cinnamon to help control blood-sugar levels and keep your metabolism in check. Use a medium-size apple and 1-2 tablespoons for each dipping session. 5. Veggie Chips Baking your favorite veggies make for great snacks. Make veggie chips (such as these kale chips or roasted beet chip recipes) to create the perfect salty, crunchy snack without all the processing and additives that come with packaged chips. Munch on these nutritious, tasty chips (approximately 1 cup) for a simple way to sneak in some extra veggies and keep you fueled all day long. These are a start, but make sure to ask your doctor for additional help with your weight loss or diet goals.