SEARCH

Entries in Headaches (8)

Tuesday
Oct162012

Meningitis Scare: Spinal Tap Headaches Can Seem Like Infection

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Jim McGuire said he was relieved when doctors told him his spinal tap tested negative for fungal meningitis last week, but his feeling of panic returned the next day when a severe headache set in.

Although the headache could have been a result of his spinal tap, McGuire's doctor told him there was a chance he was experiencing the onset of meningitis -- even though he had tested negative the day before.

"It felt like there was a knife sticking in your head," McGuire, 51, said.  "I've had sinus headaches, which are more of a dull ache.  This was a very sharp pain that was constant."

And McGuire is not alone in wondering whether he is having a spinal headache or meningitis.  A spinal tap is the only way to tell if a patient has meningitis, and 40 percent of spinal tap patients get spinal headaches as a result, according to the Mayo Clinic.

More than 14,000 patients nationwide may have been exposed to fungal meningitis if they received contaminated compounded steroid injections manufactured by New England Compounding Co. in Massachusetts.  Of the 212 people who were infected, 15 have died, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday.  Another two patients developed joint infections.

McGuire spent eight hours in the hospital last Monday after he learned that he received a contaminated epidural injection for his back pain in August.  He was among about 300 patients to receive a spinal tap at Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., because of the fungal meningitis outbreak, said hospital spokeswoman Rebecca Climer.

He then had to miss two and a half days of work, lying down at home with the drapes closed because his head hurt, he said.

If McGuire had a spinal headache, it would mean that spinal fluid leaked from the puncture where doctors performed his spinal tap, offsetting the normal pressure from fluid in the spinal column, said Dr. Joshua Bederson, who chairs neurosurgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

The brain produces and absorbs four cups of spinal fluid each day, he said.  When there's too little fluid, as in a spinal headache, the brain sags in the skull, pulling on veins that connect the outer surface of the brain to the inner surface of the skull.  That's what causes the intense headache.  It usually clears up on its own without major health complications.

Meningitis headaches, on the other hand, are caused by inflammation of the membranes in the brain and spine.  They can result in permanent neurological damage and death.

But which is which?

If the headache is positional, it's probably a spinal headache, Bederson said.  The patient should get relief from lying down, but feel more pain when he or she stands up.

If the pain is constant and not positional, it may be something else.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun292012

Man Plagued by Porn-Induced Headaches

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW DELHI, India) -- A man plagued by porn-induced headaches has to take painkillers 30 minutes before watching the X-rated movies, according to a case study. The unnamed "unmarried male software professional," 24, complained of "severe, exploding" headaches that developed gradually and peaked 10 minutes into the sexy scenes.

"Progressively, he started to refrain from viewing videos as a means of avoiding headaches," researchers from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University in New Delhi, India, wrote in the case study published in the June issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior.

The cause of the man's ill-timed headaches, triggered only by porn and not by sex or masturbation, is unclear.

"This guy is interesting because he's just watching porn and not actually having sex," said Dawn Buse, associate professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and director of behavioral medicine at the Montefiore Headache Center in New York. "But he probably still gets aroused and excited, which may be even worse than having sex because there's no release."

Buse said about one percent of the population -- mostly males -- gets headaches associated with sexual activity. But even arousal can cause changes in muscle tension, nerve sensitivity and blood flow in the brain that boost the perception of pain, she said.

"It makes sense," she said. "There's definitely blood pumping through his head and his body."

Like exercise-induced headaches, sex headaches are nothing more than a nuisance, easily negated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, Buse said. But in rare cases, the pain can signal something more serious, like a brain tumor or an aneurysm.

"If someone has a stiff neck, dizziness or confusion along with the pain, they should talk to a doctor," Buse said.

The man, ready to abandon his porn-watching ways, was instead advised to take 400 milligrams of ibuprofen and 500 milligrams of acetaminophen 30 minutes in advance, to which, according to the study, "he reported significant pain relief."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun202012

Did Texas Rangers' Announcer Have On-Air Stroke?

Lee Blankenship/Workbook Stock/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It was the bottom of the eighth inning as the San Diego Padres took on the Texas Rangers when the audience heard the Rangers announcer have what sounded like an on-air medical meltdown, which some took as a sign of a stroke.

Dave Barnett's play-by-play of Monday night's baseball game took a bizarre turn when he began to speak about a botched robbery and henchman in the midst of the game.

"[The] Go-ahead run is at fifth ... on what Adams is insisting on calling a botched robbery. What actually happened was his henchman …," the announcer rambled incoherently.

Monday night's broadcast went silent for several seconds as Barnett's microphone may have been switched off. Many fans now fear that the veteran announcer was having a stroke.

Barnett eventually recovered, and this morning the Rangers told ABC News that the long-time announcer believed the incident "to be the recurrence of migraine headaches."

This is not the first time something like this has happened to an on-air personality on live television. Last February Serene Branson, a seasoned CBS Los Angeles reporter, gave a garbled report during the Grammys. She was later diagnosed with migraine-related symptoms.

Doctors say sometimes the symptoms pass quickly, but that incoherent speech could also warn of a stroke.

"Part of a blood vessel can rupture, such as a balloon in an aneurysm. Those need to be treated early," Dr. Jim Moody, a neurosurgeon at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, told ABC News.

Barnett did go on to finish the rest of Monday's game, but he'll sit out the next two while he undergoes further tests.

video platform video management video solutions video player


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

Botox a Boon for Some Headaches, Dud for Others

Mark Sullivan/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Research showing the wrinkle-buster Botox helps treat chronic migraines may be good news for some headache sufferers -- but it turns out that if you suffer from some other type of headache, you may be better off reaching for another remedy.

A new review of research published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrated that botulinum toxin A -- which is best known by the brand name Botox -- can benefit patients who have chronic migraines, but it does not help those who have episodic migraines or chronic tension-type headaches.

Migraine headaches can cause intense throbbing or pulsing in the head and is commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Chronic migraine patients are those who experience more than 15 migraines a month, while episodic migraine sufferers have fewer than 15 migraines a month.

By contrast, tension-type headaches are actually the most common type of headache, and patients who experience them more than 15 times a month are said to suffer from chronic tension headaches. They are usually described as a diffuse, mild to moderate pain that’s often described as feeling like a tight band around the sufferer’s head. According to the new review, all that these patients may get from Botox are fewer wrinkles.

Allergan, the makers of Botox, released a statement to ABC News following the publication of the review.

“These clinically relevant outcomes are further bolstered by real-world patient experience where treatment with Botox has resulted in headache-free days and headache-free hours, significantly decreasing the burden of the condition on their day-to-day lives,” the statement reads.

But even for migraine sufferers, it may not be a magic bullet.

“Botox works for some [migraine] patients, and when it works, it works dramatically well,” Dr. Joel Saper, director of the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor, told ABC News. “It does not work for all patients, and it’s very difficult to predict who it will work for.

“Remember, this is group data so some patients will have a dramatic benefit and some have no benefit.  Some people will declare [Botox] as a miracle and some people will call it a dud.”

The finding that episodic migraines and chronic tension type headaches had no benefit with Botox highlights the importance of having an accurate diagnosis for the type of headache.

Chronic migraines affect approximately 6 million people in the United States, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. These headaches may lead to a variety of other effects, including missed work days and frequent emergency room visits.

Plastic surgeons first found that Botox could help tame migraines when patients treated cosmetically with Botox noticed that their migraines had improved.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr232012

Migraine Headaches: New Guidelines Focus on Prevention

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- From prescription pills to poisonous plants, plenty of treatments can help prevent migraines, according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology.

The updated guidelines could help some of the country's 30 million "migraineurs" reduce the frequency and severity of their headaches.

"About 38 percent of people who suffer from migraines could benefit from preventive treatments, but only less than a third of these people currently use them," said Dr. Stephen Silberstein, director of the Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and lead author of the guidelines released Monday.

Migraines are a type of headache often accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to sound and "aura," or visual symptoms. Acute treatments can ease the ache once it's started. But people with frequent migraines are advised to try daily therapies to prevent the pain and dampen the dread of when and where the next headache will hit.

"People who have relatively mild migraines that come infrequently and respond well to acute treatments, those people don't need preventive therapy," said Dr. Richard Lipton, director of the Montefiore Headache Center in New York City. "But if you're losing more than 10 days per month to your migraines, it's probably worth taking medication on a daily basis."

Silberstein and colleagues reviewed the slew of studies on migraine prevention to tease out treatments that were proved to work from ones that were probably ineffective. Among those with "established efficacy" were anti-seizure drugs such as topiramate, blood pressure-lowering drugs called beta-blockers, and inflammation-blocking extracts from the toxic butterbur plant.

"There are many, many different treatments and they have many effects on brain physiology," said Dr. Joel Saper, director of the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor. "Some people need one kind of an effect to feel better; some need another. Some need multiple treatments at the same time."

Preventive treatments that are considered "probably effective" include antidepressants such as amitriptyline, over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen, and natural supplements such as riboflavin.

"Some people say, 'I really don't want be on a medication," said Dr. Audrey Halpern, a neurologist at NYU Langone's Joan H. Tisch Center for Women's Health in New York City. "It may be appropriate for them to start with a natural supplement or other complementary therapy to get them going."

But Halpern stressed that "natural" doesn't necessarily mean "safe."

"Some supplements may interact with other medications," she said. "It's really important for people to talk to their doctors before starting any therapy."

One natural supplement, butterbur extract, has been used to treat migraine for more than 500 years. But only recently was its migraine-fighting potential proved in a clinical trial.

"The great thing about butterbur is it has a very favorable side effect profile," said Lipton, cautioning that supplements were not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "One of the issues with natural compounds is they're very complex. It's a very complex biochemical soup."

Some of the treatments listed in the guidelines are FDA-approved to treat migraines. But many are approved for other conditions and used off-label in migraineurs.

"The fascinating thing about migraine prevention is almost all the therapies we have were developed for another purpose and discovered to work in migraine prevention by chance alone," said Lipton, describing how drugs designed for epilepsy and hypertension were found to work haphazardly in headache sufferers. "But I think we're moving into an era where we can develop designer drugs specifically for migraine."

The new guidelines are similar to those from 2000 with a few changes: Topiramate is now considered effective in migraine prevention; and gabapentin and verapamil were downgraded from "probably effective" to a category of treatments with "inadequate" evidence to support or refute its use. But experts emphasize the guidelines are not the be-all, end-all.

"They're useful as a starting point," said Saper, adding that difficult cases often required drugs not listed in general guidelines. "Many people respond well to drugs that don't help most other people, and those drugs don't get listed because there's not enough evidence of a generalized benefit."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb222012

Migraines Linked to Depression in Women

Hemera/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- According to a new study, women with a history of migraines are 41 percent more likely to develop depression than their migraine-free counterparts.

"Our study shows that migraine is a potential risk factor for depression," said study author Dr. Tobias Kurth, a neuroepidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "If you have a chronic intermittent pain condition, you may be more likely to develop depressive symptoms or even depression because you're so bothered by the pain. And it's also possible the conditions share similar pathophysiological features in the brain."

The study followed 36,154 women, 6,456 of whom had a history of migraines. Over an average of 14 years, 3,971 women developed depression -- a diagnosis much more common among migraine sufferers. Kurth and colleagues will present their results in April at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

Dr. Joel Saper, director of the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute, said the study confirms a long-suspected link between migraines and depression.

"They can intermingle with each other, and they can masquerade each other," said Saper, adding that both conditions have genetic routes. "And having one makes the other one worse."

Previous studies have found people with depression are more likely to get migraines, suggesting the risk goes both ways.

"It emphasizes the importance of treating both conditions at the same time," said Saper. "Sometimes we can treat both with the same medication."

Migraine and depression are more common in women than in men, which Saper attributes to fluctuations estrogen levels.

"Estrogen makes both of these worse," he said, describing the headaches and mood changes often triggered by the menstrual cycle. "Women are more prone to depression and more prone to migraines, and women who take oral contraceptives are often worse off."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul202011

Can High Heels Trigger Migraines?

Thomas Northcut/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As Rep. Michele Bachmann's severe migraines hit the headlines this week, The Daily Caller website reported that the Minnesota Republican has -- to her staff -- "implausibly blamed the headaches on uncomfortable high-heel shoes."

So, can wearing high-heels trigger debilitating migraines?

Dr. Lucas Bachmann, a medical resident at University of Connecticut and the congresswoman's son, told The New York Times that his mother had noticed a connection between the headaches and her wearing high-heel shoes.

"Different things do trigger migraines, and it's not easy to automatically discount that," said Dr. Joel Saper, founder and director of the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor. "But it could be more likely that she wears heels at times when she has a particularly important or busy encounter that may cause stress."

Bachmann tried to ease the worries of a crowd in Aiken, S.C., Tuesday, assuring those assembled that she could control her migraines with medication, and they would not impede her ability to serve as president, playing down reports that the migraines have prevented her from doing her job.

Her spokeswoman told ABC News Tuesday that the migraines have not interfered with her presidential campaign or her ability to serve as a member of Congress. She denied reports that Bachmann's migraines had "incapacitated" her in the past.

"Twelve percent of Americans suffer from migraines, so if you're saying that Americans who suffer from migraines can't do their jobs, then I think you're going to run into problems," said Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota congresswoman.

But doctors who specialize in treating migraines say that while they can't speak for Bachmann, many migraine sufferers experience headaches that can incapacitate them.

"The World Health Organization has ranked migraines in its top 20 incapacitating disorders during an attack," said Dr. Jan Brandes, assistant clinical professor in the department of neurology at Vanderbilt University. "They can be as incapacitated as someone who suffers from quadriplegia."

Brandes says about 10 percent of migraine sufferers experience debilitating headaches, but some studies put the number at 50 to 80 percent. Women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men.

"Two to three days of debilitation is not unusual," said Saper. "You have not only the pain, but you have nausea, sometimes vomiting, a visual aura and other neurological disturbances as well as a mental fog that can be caused by the pain or the headache itself.

"We grade these things from one to five," Saper said. "If it's a very severe four or five, some people can't get out of bed. They're dizzy or they vomit, and they're just in bad shape."

Medications can also affect the ability to function, because they often have a sedative effect or cause nausea while making the pain go away.

People experiencing severe migraines might also not be able to think clearly and be unable to move, because any movement at all can exacerbate the pain.

"Migraine is a complex neurological disorder, and I fully understand why people with migraine and even doctors make associations all the time, which are very interesting and need further study to prove whether they are valid or not," said Dr. Allan Purdy, professor of neurology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

"In neurology," he continued, "we have to be very careful to ensure balance but still be open-minded to all ideas, as we really to date do not know the exact cause of migraine however we are getting there with better and new science every day."

At the event in South Carolina Tuesday, Bachmann told the assembled crowd, "I've maintained a full schedule between my duties as a Congresswoman and a presidential candidate traveling across this nation. I have prescribed medication I take on occasion whenever symptoms arise and they keep my migraines under control. But I'd like to make it abundantly clear, my ability to function effectively will not affect my ability to serve as Commander in Chief."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

On Migraines and Michele Bachmann

Medioimages/Photodisc(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- The migraine headaches that afflict GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann do not prevent her from doing her job, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

"Twelve percent of Americans suffer from migraines, so if you're saying that Americans who suffer from migraines can't do their jobs, then I think you're going to run into problems," said Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota congresswoman.

But doctors who specialize in treating migraines say that while they can't speak for Bachmann, 55, about 10 percent of migraine sufferers experience headaches that can be incapacitating.

"The World Health Organization has ranked migraines in its top 20 incapacitating disorders during an attack," said Dr. Jan Brandes, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Neurology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. "They can be as incapacitated as someone who suffers from quadriplegia."

Dr. Joel Saper, founder and director of the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor, said, "Two to three days of debilitation is not unusual. You have not only the pain but you have nausea, sometimes vomiting, a visual aura and other neurological disturbances as well as a mental fog that can be caused by the pain or the headache itself.

"We grade these things from 1 to 5," Saper said. "If it's a very severe 4 or 5, some people can't get out of bed, they're dizzy or they vomit and they're just in bad shape."

Medications can also affect the ability to function because they often have a sedative effect or cause nausea while making the pain go away.

People experiencing severe migraines might also not be able to think clearly and be unable to move, because any movement at all can exacerbate the pain.

"Many people want to be in a still, dark place with very little sound," Vanderbilt's Brandes said. "People are not really functional during this kind of attack."

Bachmann's camp is calling "bogus" a report by The Daily Caller which alleged the Minnesota congresswoman's migraines could "incapacitate" her "for days at a time."

On the campaign trail Tuesday, Bachmann herself responded to the article, saying "I've maintained a full schedule as a Congresswoman and a presidential candidate traveling across this nation. I have prescribed medication I take on occasion whenever symptoms arise and keep my migraines under control. My ability to function effectively will not affect my ability to serve as Commander in Chief."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio