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Frequently Asked Questions About Headaches

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    1. Are Migraines Hereditary?

    Yes, migraines have a tendency to run in families. Four out of five migraine sufferers have a family history of migraines. If one parent has a history of migraines, the child has a 50% chance of developing migraines, and if both parents have a history of migraines, the risk jumps to 75%.

     

    2. Can Migraines Be Prevented?

    Yes. You can reduce the frequency of your migraine attacks by identifying and then avoiding migraine triggers. You can keep track of your headache patterns and identify headache triggers by using a headache diary.

    Recalling what was eaten prior to an attack may help you identify chemical triggers.

    Stress management and coping techniques, along with relaxation training, can help prevent or reduce the severity of the migraine attacks.

    Women who often get migraines around their menstrual period can take preventive therapy when they know their period is coming.

    Migraine sufferers also seem to have fewer attacks when they eat on a regular schedule and get adequate rest.

    Regular exercise -- in moderation -- can also help prevent migraines.

    3. What Pain Medications Are Responsible for Causing Rebound Headaches?

    Many commonly used pain relief medications, when taken in large enough amounts, can cause rebound headaches. Drugs once thought of as "safe" are turning up as the likeliest culprits. These include:

    • Aspirin
    • Sinus relief medications
    • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (Aleve)
    • Sedatives for sleep
    • Codeine and prescription narcotics
    • Over-the-counter combination headache remedies containing caffeine (such as Anacin, Excedrin, Bayer Select)
    • Ergotamine preparations (such as Cafergot, Migergot, Ergomar, Bellergal-S, Bel-Phen-Ergot S, Phenerbel-S, Ercaf, Wigraine, and Cafatine PB)
    • Butalbital combination pain-relievers (Goody's Headache Powder, Supac, Excedrin)

    While small amounts of these drugs per week may be safe (and effective), at some point, the continued medication use can lead to the development of low-grade headaches that just will not go away.

    4. Can Allergies Cause Headaches?

    It is a misconception that allergies cause headaches. However, allergies can cause sinus congestion, which can lead to headache pain. If you have allergies, the treatment for your allergy will not relieve your headache pain. The two conditions generally must be treated separately. See your doctor to ensure proper treatment.

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