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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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Migraine and Headache Terms

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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

Head trauma: a physical injury to the head; head trauma can sometimes lead to headaches.

Headache diary: a form used to record a person's headache characteristics and triggers; this information will help your health care providers correctly treat your headaches.

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