Magazine article Working Mother

Focus on Feeling Great

Magazine article Working Mother

Focus on Feeling Great

Article excerpt

This Month's Expert

Julia Cassetta, MD

Assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Columbia Presbyterian Eastside Center for Women's Health in New York City

Q I seem to get more migraines in the summer. What's going on?

A: There may be a seasonal link. Migraines-intense, throbbing headaches that usually affect one side of the head-are often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to both light and sound and can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. High heat and humidity and sudden shifts in weather or barometric pressure (such as during storms, which occur frequently in the summer) are sometimes triggers. Other common culprits are caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, an increase in physical activity, changes in sleep patterns and-though there's less evidence to support this-exposure to bright light. We don't know why migraines develop, but one theory is that these triggers lead to an abnormal release of neurochemicals such as serotonin in the brain and cause a sudden constriction and dilation of the blood vessels in the head, neck or scalp. Others believe migraine sufferers may be born with a hypersensitive nervous system that makes them prone to developing these headaches. The best way to prevent migraines, or at least reduce their severity, is to try to avoid things that you know may bring them on. Also, talk to your doctor about anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin and ibuprofen) or triptans, a type of medication that can be taken at the earliest signs of a migraine. If your headaches are chronic and disabling, ask your doctor about preventive drugs such as beta blockers, antidepressants or serotonin antagonists, which can be taken daily to decrease the intensity or frequency of attacks.

Q: I know that the new federal dietary guidelines recommend three dairy servings a day, but that seems like a lot. Are calcium-fortified juices and supplements just as good? What else can I do to strengthen my bones?

A: The recommended daily dose of calcium is 1,000 milligrams (mg) for premenopausal women, up to 1,500 mg for postmenopausal women and 1,200 mg for pregnant and nursing women, which translates to around three or four servings of dairy products a day. A serving can be 8 ounces of yogurt, an 8-ounce glass of milk or about two slices of cheese. Calciumfortified juice is a good alternative and is also effective at helping maintain bone health and strength. It's a good idea to always try to get calcium from foods first, because the body absorbs nutrients from foods more efficiently than from supplements. …

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