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{3} march 1, 2009

Your HEALTH

TOPIC OF THE WEEK

Migraine

BUSTERS

IDENTIFYING WHAT TRIGGERS MIGRAINES CAN PREVENT THEM from occurring. Keeping a “migraine diary” can help pinpoint triggers, such as missing meals, hunger, extreme tiredness, sleeping in, glare, flickering light, loud noise, strong perfumes, certain foods (such as cheese, chocolate, citrus fruit, dairy products and fatty foods), alcohol, stress or relaxation after stress. In some cases the headache is preceded by an “aura” consisting of visual disturbances (blurred vision, flashes of light or jittering zig-zags of light), nausea, a strange feeling or THE DOCTOR smell, cravings for sweets, food or drink, pins and needles or even difficulty speaking. This aura may last Dr Cindy Pan for 10 to 60 minutes, fading as the headache kicks in, or possibly persisting. Most migraines respond best to being treated as early as possible, so as soon as you become aware of an imminent attack, lie down in a dark, quiet room and relax. Hot or cold compresses on the forehead may help. There is a wide range of medications available, so talk to your doctor about which are most suitable for you. People who suffer very frequent, severe migraines may benefit from taking daily preventive medicine to decrease the frequency of attacks.

Dr Cindy Pan has had over 10 years of clinical practice. Her books include Pandora’s Box: Lifting The Lid On Life’s Little Nasties (HarperCollins) and Playing Hard To Get (HarperCollins). She appears on television, lectures and speaks about all aspects of health, relationships and wellbeing.

ANYONE WHO HAS SUFFERED FROM A MIGRAINE knows the warning signs: nausea, visual disturbances, sensitivity to light and smell, the infamous “aura”, loss of appetite and the progressive throbbing of one side of the head. The challenge in treating migraines is that there are so many potential causes. Simple things such as food or chemical allergies are relatively easy to treat, but other causes can include hormonal influences, emotional triggers, muscular or postural causes, medications, too much or too little sleep, humidity changes, THE NATUROPATH dehydration and excessive alcohol intake. Useful strategies include keeping a food diary; Leah Hechtman taking supplements such as magnesium and B vitamins; herbal medicines such as feverfew; essential oils such as lemon, lavender, and peppermint; hot or cold applications and regular stress-relieving activities. See a qualified osteopath or chiropractor if you have any postural concerns. Have regular massages to relieve back and neck tension or spasm. Make sure your eyesight has been checked recently.

Leah Hechtman is a naturopath and fertility specialist. She is a lecturer, author, researcher and industry consultant and has her own clinical practice in Sydney, NSW. She specialises in fertility, reproductive and psychological health. For more information visit www.naturalhealthfertility.com

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Migraines