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Migraine and Headache Terms

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Menstrual migraine: see Hormone headache

Mental imagery relaxation: also called guided imagery, it is a proven form of focused relaxation that helps create harmony between the mind and body; guided imagery coaches you in creating calm, peaceful images in your mind -- a "mental escape."

Migraine: believed to result from abnormal brain activity and involve nerve pathways and chemicals; this in turn affects blood flow in and around the brain. Migraine disorders tend to run in families; however, the pattern of inheritance is complex. A migraine causes mild to severe pain and lasts from four hours up to a week. Migraines usually occur two to four times per month.

Migraineur: a person who has migraines

Mixed headache syndrome: a combination of migraine and tension headaches

Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors: a class of drugs used to treat depression; they also help treat headaches. People taking MAO inhibitors must be careful not to eat foods containing tyramine, as this can cause increased blood pressure.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG): a food additive commonly found in Asian food that may cause headaches in some people

Narcotics: strong prescription pain medications

Nervous system: includes the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system; the peripheral nervous system includes a network of nerves throughout the body, handling everything from regulating the heart rate to flexing the hand or foot. It also receives information, much of which is sent to the brain. This information is analyzed and coordinated by the central nervous system. The central nervous system is made up of the spinal cord and brain.

Neurologist: a medical specialist with advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscles

Neurology: the study of the nervous system

Neuron: a nerve cell

Neurotransmitter: a specialized chemical, produced in nerve cells, that permits the transmission of information between nerve cells

Nitrite: a food additive that may trigger headaches in some people; nitrites are commonly found in processed meats, such as bacon, pepperoni, hot dogs, ham, sausage, luncheon meats, and deli-style meats and other cured or processed meats. Some heart medications contain nitrates.

Ophthalmology evaluation: an eye exam performed by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) which includes a pressure test to rule out glaucoma or pressure on the optic nerve as causes of headaches

Ophthalmoplegic migraine: pain around the eye, including paralysis in the muscles surrounding the eye; this is an emergency medical condition, as the symptoms can be caused by pressure on the nerves behind the eye. Other symptoms of ophthalmoplegic migraines include a droopy eyelid, dilated pupil, double vision, or other vision changes.

Otitis: ear infection or inflammation

Paroxysmal vertigo: dizziness that is marked by sudden, intense symptoms

Paroxysmal torticollis: sudden contraction of one side of the neck muscles that causes the head to lean to that side

WebMD Medical Reference

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