HeadWay (You didn’t miss it)

If you subscribe to the ezine HeadWay, you may be wondering if you missed the January issue. No, you didn’t. I decided that, this month, discretion is the better part of valor, and I have had to cut back a bit on my regular writing (temporarily, I hope!).

But I’m looking forward to a new edition of HeadWay in February!

HeadWay (first issue)

The first issue of HeadWay (2003)

If you’re not aware of HeadWay, it’s an ezine that’s been published almost monthly for almost 13 and a half years. HeadWay keeps you updated on headache and migraine news topics, usually in a more in-depth way. It also helps define common terms that you’ll see when learning about various headache conditions.

Topics covered over the years include “off-label” medications, how to prepare for an emergency, evaluation of supplements, how to talk to your doctor effectively, menstrual migraine, combo drugs, vertigo, inexpensive treatments, and much more.

But there’s another benefit to subscribing to HeadWay. Subscribers are like a special executive committee here – they have their own special mail room which they can use to submit thoughts and ideas that influence not only HeadWay but online articles as well.

So if you’re not one of HeadWay’s 10,000+ subscribers, why not subscribe today? It’s free!

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10 Headache and Migraine News Highlights from the past 3 Months (January 2017 edition)

Thanks again for visiting, learning, commenting, and sharing! Here’s a quick summary of the recent posts that have been most popular. You’ll see three in bold – up to this point, they’ve had the most “likes” on Facebook. I hope this site continues to be a help to you!

  1. Laser Therapy (LLLT) for Migraine
  2. Approaching the Finish line: CGRP Inhibitors
  3. When Taking a Shower Hurts: Migraine and Depression
  4. MSG, Migraine, and New Treatments
  5. Ketamine: An Option for Migraine and Depression?
  6. Cluster Headaches Causes
  7. Shocking Poll: The Limits of Diet
  8. The Migraine Expert in Your Pocket
  9. New Study Questions Preventative Migraine Drugs for Kids
  10. Is Your Doctor a Certified Headache Specialist?
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Live in the UK? Help Discover the Links between Weather and Pain

Say whatever you want about the UK, the one thing there is lots of is – weather. What better place to research the link between chronic pain and weather changes?

Cloudy with a Chance of PainThe research project is called Cloudy with a Chance of Rain. If you live in the UK, you could have the chance to participate, and get cutting-edge information about the research. But you do need to sign up this week.

We have long known that there is a link between weather and pain symptoms. But Cloudy with a Chance of Rain will allow us to see precise, information in a way that hasn’t been possible before. Being a part of this project, you’ll be able to participate in a personal way. Are you noticing a pattern in the data? You can contact the researchers and share your insights. And by identifying patterns, we may be able to better manage and treat chronic pain.

If you would like to participate, here are the requirements:

  • You must live in the UK
  • You must be over 17
  • You must have an Android or iOS smart phone
  • You must have chronic pain
  • You must sign up this week (Friday is the deadline)

The study is being done headed up at the University of Manchester, and is sponsored by Arthritis Research UK, so obviously you’re welcome if you have arthritis. But any kind of chronic pain qualifies, including chronic migraine or chronic daily headache.

This study is about a lot more than just “forecasting pain”. These types of links can help us to better understand pain, to better treat pain, and to help us to make choices that will improve our quality of life.

To sign up, follow this link. Remember, the deadline to sign up is January 20th.

Via The Migraine Trust

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Unused Paid Time Off? Use it to Fight Migraine…

Because of the drastic under-funding of research for migraine, I’m always interested in new ways to get that research going. Thanks to a start up, those in the United States now have a unique way to donate.

It may seem odd to those in other developed countries, but in the United States there is no national law making paid leave a requirement. But many of those who get the privilege, for whatever reason don’t use it.
Paid Time Off ExchangeNow I certainly recommend you do use it – it’s important for your health, productivity, and creativity. But the fact of the matter is, at certain times you may not be able to use it, or you may have friends and family who have unused paid time off that they haven’t used.

Depending on a company’s policy, this can lead to a lot of confusion in the books over the years. But some companies have used this new start up to organize this paid time off (PTO) and use it to help other employees, the employees who weren’t using it, and even charities – ah hah!

There may be people you know who qualify – and who can give some of their PTO to the Migraine Research Foundation. The startup is called PTO Exchange, and the Migraine Research Foundation is one of the registered charities.

If you’re in the USA, please tell your family and friends about this opportunity to give to migraine research. 100% of their donation will go directly to cutting edge research. Some companies may want to consider using PTO Exchange for the first time. Share on Facebook, Twitter, and at your next dinner party – let’s see if we can find some funding to fight migraine!

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Cluster Headaches Causes

As with any type of pain, the agony of this super-intense headache raises the question – what exactly are cluster headaches causes? In other words, why am I in such incredible pain?

There are actually two questions to ask. First, what may actually trigger a cluster headache attack at a certain time? But the other question is – why is it that a certain trigger results in a headache for one person, but not another? In other words, what is the cause of the disease in the first place?

But before we get into cluster headaches causes, make sure you understand what cluster is. Here is a handy infographic contrasting migraine with cluster: cluster headache vs migraine

So why does one person get cluster headache attacks, while another person doesn’t?

There has been some research done into the possibility of a genetic cause, or at least genetic factors that contribute. For many years now, researchers have recognized that family members of a cluster patient are more likely to have cluster themselves. In late 2016, a study from Italy was published in the Journal of Headache and Pain, indicating some possible genetic variants that seem to increase a patient’s risk (A genome-wide analysis in cluster headache points to neprilysin and PACAP receptor gene variants.).

Most often when we talk about cluster headaches causes, we end up discussing the brain and nervous system. We know, through modern imagine techniques, that the hypothalamus is involved, as has long been suspected. The trigeminal nerve in the head seems to be important, especially in the process that causes symptoms such as eye pain, tears and congestion. Other possible indirect cluster headache causes are related to a nerve cluster behind the nose (the sphenopalatine ganglion), histamine, and the blood vessels themselves. Read more about these factors here: What is behind the dreaded Cluster Headache?

All that being said, there is still nothing we can point to with certainty. Cluster may indeed be caused by a number of factors working together – for example, even someone who is predisposed genetically may not get cluster because other physical factors are lacking. There are other behavioural factors, such as a history of smoking, which seem to play a role.

But what actually kicks off a cluster headache attack (or, what triggers a cluster period)?

Cluster isn’t as closely connected to “triggers”, such as food or hormonal changes, as migraine is. There are some factors which have been related to periods of cluster headache attacks, including smoking, sleep apnea, and the season of the year (autumn being the highest risk time of year).

Once the cycle has started, there may be other individual cluster headache causes. Alcohol is commonly reported, as well as strong chemical fumes. A hot day, or getting “overheated” during exercise seems to trigger attacks for some. However, when you’re not in a “cluster period”, these things will not trigger attacks at all.

Cluster is hard to research because it is so rare. However, we are learning more and more about the brain, and the last 30 years has brought us incredible advances in understanding. Many of these new revelations about cluster headache causes have brought new treatments to the forefront, such as deep brain stimulation for chronic cluster headache patients.

Further reading: Cluster headaches causes and treatments (Medical News Today)

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