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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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Migraine and Headache Terms

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Headache history: a description of your headache symptoms and characteristics, as well as a description of previous treatments for headaches

Hemiplegic migraine: temporary paralysis (hemiplegia) or sensory changes on one side of the body; the onset of the headache may be associated with temporary numbness or a stroke-like weakness on one side of the body, dizziness, or vision changes.

Hemorrhage: bleeding within the brain

Hormone headache: a headache syndrome common in women that is often associated with changing estrogen (a hormone) levels that occur during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause

Hydrocephalus: abnormal build-up of fluid in the brain

Idiopathic: not traceable to a direct cause; occurring spontaneously; of unknown cause

Immune system: the body's defense system or protective network designed to fend off invasion by harmful substances, including bacteria, viruses, and harmful chemicals, and to act as a surveillance system against the development of cancer

Inflammation: a process in which the body's white blood cells and chemicals can protect us from infection and foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses

Lethargy: being indifferent, apathetic, or sluggish; also characterized by sleeping too much

Lumbar puncture: also called a spinal tap, it is the removal of spinal fluid (called the cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) from the spinal canal; the fluid is withdrawn through a needle and examined in a laboratory. This diagnostic procedure is only done to rule out conditions that may be affecting the brain and spinal cord. This test is used only if the symptoms warrant it. It can cause a headache for a few hours afterward.

Lyme disease: a disease, caused by a tick bite, that can affect many organs and joints; Lyme disease can affect the nervous system and cause headache symptoms.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): a diagnostic test that produces very clear images of the human body without the use of X-rays; MRI may be recommended if you are getting daily or almost daily headaches. MRI may also be recommended if a CT scan does not show definitive results. In addition, a MRI scan is used to evaluate certain parts of the brain that are not as easily viewed with CT scans, such as the spine at the level of the neck and the back portion of the brain.

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