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Migraine and Headache Terms

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Chronic progressive headaches: see Cluster headaches

Chronic nonprogressive headaches: see Tension headaches

Classic migraine: another term for migraine with aura

Cluster headaches: headaches that have a characteristic grouping of attacks; cluster headaches occur one to three times per day during a cluster period, which may last two weeks to three months. Cluster headaches are the least common type of primary headache. These headaches are considered a vascular type of headache, like migraines. The pain of a cluster headache is generally very intense and severe.

Common migraine: another term for migraine without aura

Computed axial tomography (CAT) scan: a diagnostic test in which X-rays and computers are used to produce an image of a cross-section of the body; a CT scan of the head may be recommended if you are getting daily or almost daily headaches. It can also be used to rule out other conditions that may contribute to headaches.

Confusional migraine: migraine associated with a temporary period of confusion often initiated by a minor head injury

Cyclic vomiting: uncontrolled vomiting that occurs repeatedly over a certain period of time

Decongestant medications: drugs that can be used to relieve headaches associated with sinus infections; decongestants help relieve headache symptoms, because they constrict blood vessels that cause headache pain. However, decongestants should only be used as directed, as they can be habit-forming.

Electroencephalogram (EEG): a test in which the electrical signals of the brain are recorded; electrical activity detected by electrodes, or sensors, placed on a person's scalp are transmitted to a machine that records the activity.

Electromyograph (EMG): a test that measures the electrical activity in the muscles to determine the amount of muscle tension; small, flat metal sensors, called electrodes, are attached to the skin (usually on the forehead). The electrodes measure the electrical activity in the muscles directly underneath the electrodes and adjoining muscles. The electrical activity of the muscles will be measured and displayed as numbers or electrical waves on a screen that the person can view.

Encephalitis: inflammation of the brain, usually caused by bacteria or infection; encephalitis is a serious cause of headache.

Endorphins: hormone-like substances produced in the brain that have pain-relieving properties; some scientists believe that people who suffer from severe headaches have lower levels of endorphins than people who generally do not have headaches.

Epilepsy: a group of conditions marked by recurrent seizures over a prolonged period of time (with no identifiable short-term cause)

Episodic: occurrences that come and go with or without a regular pattern

Food additives: also called food preservatives; these are substances contained in certain foods that can trigger headaches. MSG, nitrates, or phenylethalamine are examples of food additives.

Guided imagery: see mental imagery relaxation

Headache: a general term that refers to a persistent or lasting pain in the head region

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