Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Getting Ahead of Pain

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Getting Ahead of Pain

Article excerpt

AT LEAST four million Australians suffer chronic headaches, while three million suffer from migraines.

Chronic headaches, caused by everything from the stress of daily living to workplaces full of bright lights and computer screens, affect 84 per cent of adults at least once a year, according to a study by pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

Migraines can occur once or twice in a lifetime or every week or month and for some sufferers, almost daily.

Only 25 per cent of migraine sufferers say get warning symptoms such as cravings for sweet food, or excessive yawning, while around one fifth experience aura, which includes dots or flashing lights and blind spots.

Sufferers may also get a stiff neck, sore eyes, throbbing sinuses, violent sickness or stomach ache and find lights become painfully bright, noises excruciatingly loud, or smells nauseating.

Add lethargy, inability to concentrate, yawning, depression, dizziness, hallucinations, blind spots, pins and needles, even one-sided temporary paralysis in rare cases and you can see why migraines are so debilitating.

Many migraine sufferers believe that food is a trigger. In fact, chocolate, cheese, citrus fruits, seafood and red wine, as well as processed meats containing nitrates have long been suspected culprits.

Fluorescent lighting and strong smells such as industrial fumes or perfume are other possible triggers.

Studies also suggest that compounds that inhibit the release of the feelgood neurotransmitter, serotonin, are involved in migraines, as are sex hormones, with vulnerable times being pregnancy, menopause and certain times during your menstrual cycle.

There's a genetic link involved in migraines too. About 90 per cent of people who suffer migraines have a close relative who also has the disorder.

aHeadaches can also be a symptom of a more serious problem, such as high blood pressure, for up to 10 per cent of those who suffer them.

Most tension headaches will respond to relaxation exercises, osteopathic manipulation or a pain killer. However migraines generally need something stronger.

Medications used at the onset of migraines include aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, paracetamol, anti-nausea drugs and triptans (e. …

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