The Migraine Headache Allergy Connection

The Migraine Headache Allergy ConnectionMost everyone has had a headache at some time, but there are people who cannot function on a daily basis due to headache pain. Many people go to physicians for headaches, in fact, headaches are the ninth most common cause of physician visits. Some headaches are caused by serious medical conditions and may need medical treatment.

Migraines, which come on an average of 1-2 times per month, may last anywhere from 3 hours to 3 days each. The pain, may vary from throbbing to moderate, often comes on gradually. Sometimes it starts on one side of the head and then switches sides. People report seeing lights, rainbows and blurred vision. There may also be loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting.

More women than men complain of headaches. Usually migraine patients have a family background of headaches 80% of the time. 43% of migraine sufferers complain of eye symptoms. According to many studies, most sufferers have other symptoms: hay fever, eczema, travel sickness and a history of digestive tract problems.

The Allergy Connection

Migraines are often a reaction to an allergen, which in turn, irritates the blood vessels. In migraines, an artery, most commonly the superficial temporal artery, becomes constricted at first, then the same segment of the artery becomes widely dilated, and overstretched. The pressure of the blood carried in the artery increases the pain, whereas compression of the artery with the hands on the side of the head over the dilated segment will cause relief of pain. The control of blood vessel tone is through the autonomic nervous system. Thus many natural treatments are directed at the nervous system and blood vessels.

Triggering Agents

The most common triggering agents for migraines are alterations in serotonin metabolism (a deficiency), food allergies (in order of the most common- wheat, citrus fruit, eggs, tea, coffee, chocolate, milk, salt, corn, cane sugar, yeast, alcohol, cheeses, onions), low magnesium levels, hormonal imbalances, histamine-induced platelet aggregation (blood platelets sticking together). Migraine headaches can also be triggered by eyestrain, poor posture, stress, sleep excess or deficiency, weather changes, blood sugar imbalances and drug use. (Dr. Dana Myatt)

Other studies cite triggers like hypoglycemia, tension, depression, tobacco, birth control pills, vasodilator drugs, water retention, menstruation, wind exposure, and sun exposure. There may also be factors that aggravate migraines such as poor air, constipation, getting cold, noise, carbon monoxide poisoning, very low / high blood pressure, altitude changes (air travel), bright or flashing lights (a recent study showed 30% were in the sun when the migraine started), loud or low frequency noises, electromagnetic fields (cell or portable phone), emotional stress or trauma, strong odors (including news print), pet allergies, and others. (Dr. Ron Roth and Lancet)

Can Foods Cause Migraines?

When allergy producing foods were avoided there was a dramatic fall in the number of headaches per month, 85% of patients becoming headache-free (Lancet) Migraine users may want to stay away from food with dairy and wheat.

Eating too many varieties of foods at one meal is a common cause of headache. The many chemicals from the various foods, even though naturally produced, still make war inside the system. For people with headaches it is wise to take two dishes at a meal of very simple foods. (Dr. Agatha Thrash).

Natural Relief

* When the headaches first starts, applying an ice pack can provide quick relief. The ice pack can be placed on the top of the head or on the forehead.

* Tension headaches result from stress and reduced blood flow to the brain, causing the neck muscles to tighten. To soothe the neck muscles apply heat. Applying a heating pad or taking a hot bath can provide relief.

* A massage can relieve stress and relax the muscles in the neck and other parts of the body. With the fingertips, massage the scalp and temples, using a circular motion.

* A hot foot bath with a cold compress or ice pack over the painful area can also be helpful.

* Studies show that Feverfew and Ginkgo reduce migraines and vascular headaches. The leaves of the Feverfew contain parthenolide, which inhibits the production of substances that dilate blood vessels and cause inflammation. Ginkgo also relieves ringing in the ear, and dizziness often associated with headaches. Feverfew and Ginkgo are available at health food stores.

* Ginger relaxes blood vessels in the head and reduces swelling in the brain. It activates natural opiates in the brain that relieve pain. Ginger can be taken in the form of tea or in tablets available at health food stores.

Where to Find Help

For information on headaches contact: The National Headache Foundation (888) NHF-5552. Always consult a physician before proceeding with any remedies. Headaches can be a sign of a very serious medical condition that can lead to death.

Since diet can play a part in migraines, reducing allergy producing foods is recommended. If you can’t afford the $100 food allergy test from your alternative medicine provider, you can instead try going 1 month each without wheat, dairy, and yeast. Those are the most common offenders. If any of them is involved, you should notice a difference!


Detecting And Treating Swimmers Ear

Swimmer’s ear is an infection that affects many children. Despite its name, swimming is not the only causative factor. You child could show the symptoms even after taking a shower. This infection is usually caused due to unclean water that comes into contact with your child’s ear.

This problem could lead to itchiness, pain and hearing loss of your child. It is very important to take your child to a doctor and get the problem treated as soon as possible because it can spread and become dangerous if not treated properly.

Signs of Swimmer’s Ear

The first and most major sign of the condition is the pain that your child will feel, especially when the ear is pulled. Movement of the jaw like a chewing movement may also bring up the pain. You may also start to notice some swelling in the area. The lymph nodes might also become tender. In time, you will also find a discharge from the ear. Usually, this discharge is colorless in the beginning but it starts to turn yellow or become puss-like. Hearing loss and redness around the area is also a common phenomenon.

Possible Complications

If the symptoms are not treated immediately, it can lead to a lot of future complications. Immediate complications will include loss of hearing and a lot of itching in the ears. Long term effects can include spreading of the infection to other parts of the ear, including the skull bone. If this happens, it can be dangerous, especially if your child suffers from diabetes. In this case, malignant otitis externa can occur which will then have to be treated by high-dose antibiotics that will have to be given through the vein.

Treatment for Swimmer’s Ear

Professional medical treatment is essential if your child is suffering from this condition. Here are some ways that doctors usually treat this problem:

• Antibiotic drops are most commonly given for a period extending to two weeks
• If there is a lot of swelling, a wick may have to be put in and drops might have to be put through this way so that they get to the ear canal
• Medicine to reduce the inflammation as well as pain relief medication is also often given along with the antibiotics in order to provide relief to the child
• Oral antibiotics for bad infections that have spread beyond the ear
• Acetic acid drops

In order to have temporary relief before you can get to the doctor, try placing something warm against the ear to ease the pain. Usually, proper treatment will get rid of this infection but those suffering from chronic symptoms could have to undergo continuous treatment in order to avoid any major complications.

Learn How and When to Use a Wrist Brace

How to use Wrist Braces

1. Generally due to the way the wrist is bent during sleep, the most intense pain is felt when you wake in the mornings. So the best time to use a brace is during the night, put them on just before you go to bed.

2. Make sure that the carpal tunnel wrist braces that you have chosen fit perfectly, they should not be too tight (will restrict blood flow) or too loose (will not provide support) or else they will not give you any relief.

3. If you experience pain when typing or other work that involves the flexing of the wrist, you should do that work with the carpal tunnel wrist braces on.

4. Make sure that if you have pain in just one wrist, that you purchase the wrist brace for the appropriate wrist. Do dot buy a generic wrist brace as they could make your condition worse.

From my own experience these are the most important requirements of any hand brace:

1. The brace must have a structure that will enable your wrist to be exactly in line with your forearm. You should not be able to bend or rotate your wrist alone with the brace on.

2. The straps should have velcro as the fastening mechanism. This will ensure that you can make the brace as tight or loose as required to fit your hand snugly. Do not purchase braces that have no fastening mechanism (ie. made of elastic material) or ones that have buckles, as they will not enable a perfect fit.

3. Material: Ensure that the material is breathable, this will allow air circulation and prevent sweating and dampening the glove.

So Your Lower Back Hurts

Low back pain is one of the most common ailments people suffer from and approximately 8 out of 10 people will deal with back pain at some point in their life. That’s a lot of people… are you one of them?

Out of all of the various forms of back pain, lower back pain is by far the most common and there’s a good explanation for this. Any idea why?

It’s not car accidents, it’s not work-related injuries, and it’s not a lack of prescription medications either. Lack of movement and use is the number one cause of back pain!

I bet your orthopedic specialist or chiropractor didn’t tell you that, did they?

It’s the lack of movement in various muscles over years that leads to muscle imbalances and uneven wear and tear on your body, especially the spine. For example, how many times a day are you bending, leaning, or twisting.

Here’s what the typical person’s day is like:

  • Wake up
  • Eat breakfast (hopefully)
  • Drive or ride to work
  • Sit at desk
  • Eat lunch
  • Sit at desk some more
  • Drive or ride home
  • Eat dinner
  • Sit on couch and watch tv
  • Go to bed

Notice the trend here? That’s an awful lot of sitting and not moving. Well, this is what leads to serious muscle imbalances and so what do we do, we go to the gym and perform exercises that only make the imbalances worse!

The key to eliminating back pain (nearly any ache, pain, or injury for that matter) is to identify the muscle imbalances that are pulling the spine, bones, and joints out of place and then stretch the tight muscles while strengthening the weak muscles.

How do I know this? Well, as certified personal fitness trainer and post-rehabilitation specialist, I have worked with hundreds of individuals with back pain and the conditions that ranged from sciatic pain, to bulging discs, to spinal fusion, and others. In working with these individuals I discovered some startling facts.

1. Many people who seek professional help are often mis-diagnosed and end up following a treatment plan that fails to eliminate the cause of their back pain.

2. Nearly all of the individuals I worked with were able to eliminate their back pain, or significantly improve their condition even though all of the traditional treatments failed them (physically therapy, chiropractic care, cortisone injections, anti-inflammatory medications, surgery, etc).

Even more amazing is the fact that most of these individuals were able to eliminate their back pain in a matter or days or weeks simply by performing a handful of exercises and stretches! These weren’t your basic exercises or the standard back stretches and stomach exercises most “experts” recommend – these were specific exercises and stretches prescribed based on the individual.

Many of these people had suffered for years and years with aches, pains, and stiffness and lived inactive lives because of their back pain.

3. Most treatment plans offered only address the symptoms and don’t address the cause, which usually delivers just temporary relief for the individual.

In addition to helping hundreds of others eliminate back pain, I also have had personal experiences with back pain and other various conditions such as tendonitis, muscle strains and sprains, and more. In every single situation the traditional treatments did nothing but treat the symptoms (often times not successfully) and the only approach that gave lasting improvements and relief was targeted stretches and exercises.

Have you tried traditional treatments and found little relief? I am not saying these treatments are not effective at temporarily reducing the pain or inflammation, but I am saying nearly all fail to get rid of the underlying cause of the problem.

So how do you identify these muscle imbalances? Well, it isn’t easy but with a basic understanding of how your body works you can at least start looking at your situation and find out which muscles are over worked and too strong and/or tight and which ones are too weak and stretched out.

It also helps if you can find a qualified health professional who specializes in identifying muscle imbalances. Unfortunately, there are still few professionals who use what I call the “common sense approach.” However, your best bet is to look for a personal fitness trainer that is trained and certified in post-rehabilitation, a manual physical therapist, or an osteopath. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions… you need to take charge of your health care and be sure to quiz them to find out what type of an approach they take in treating back pain.