Headache Triggers and Diagnostic
Non-invasive vs. Invasive Techniques
The first step to battling a headache is to avoid triggers which
may lead to the onset of a headache. Many of these triggers work by serving directly as a
vasodilator, or by causing something like serotonin or a chemical like tryamine to dilate
- Foods: ages cheese, alcohol, caffeine, high is salt, MSG, nitrites (preservative),
- Low blood sugar. Especially during period of long sleep or after missing meals.
- Stress (not a cause, but may aggravate).
- Poor sleep habits.
It is also important obtain an accurate diagnosis of headache.
Especially in order to rule out other possible neurological disorders.
- EEG - Measuring brain activity may locate malfunctioning areas.
- Computed tomography - Viewing density of structures can differentiate between swollen
vessels vs. brain tumors.
- MRI - Provides information about the structure and biochemistry of the brain.
- PET - Proper blood flow may be analyzed.
- Eye exam - Evaluates the functioning of eye muscles and their associated cranial nerves.
Many rule out aneurysm.
- Thermography - Compares skin temperatures.
- Relaxation techniques - relaxing the body and its muscles
- Biofeedback - voluntary control of visceral functions
- Surgery - e.g. nerve removal
This type of drug acts upon the receptor site sensing the pain. These drugs stop the
sensation of pain by preventing the mediator release of substances like prostaglandin and
- Aspirin and OTC's
- Steroidal pain inhibitors
This type of drug changes the structure causing the problem, i.e. peripheral arteries
and blood vessels.
- Anti-inflammatory agents
- Serotonergic drugs may also be classified here
These drugs mimic the effects of endorphins. Higher levels of endorphins have been
associated with diminished sensation of pain.
These drugs excite or suppress neurotransmitter systems associated with headache pain,
- MAO inhibitors
- Tricyclic anti-depressants
- Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors
This type of treatment is still being developed. It will involve the expression of the
necessary proteins in headache suffering patients by giving them the proper genetic
sequence information (mRNA, etc.) The problem right now is not knowing what proteins are
needed, but being able to express them in human tissue.
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