Migraines: More than a headache
CBS correspondent Serene Branson experienced one of the worst nights of her life during her post Grammy on-air report in 2011. On live television, her speech was slurred and her language garbled as viewers watched in horror, believing she was suffering from a stroke. Later, the public learned that she was enduring a migraine, a common ailment that Americans undergo everyday.
James Faremouth, D.O., physician at Millennium Physician Group’s Walk-In Medical Clinic in Port Charlotte, says these symptoms can develop from the neuronal activity, which causes pain, inflammation and ultimately the slurred speech. “These neurological symptoms are seizure-like and are associated with complex migraines,” Dr. Faremouth says.
Garbled speech is not the only side effect that occurs with a migraine. “Blurred visions, photophobia and nausea are other common symptoms of migraines,” he says.
It can be challenging to distinguish between a headache and migraine. “Migraines come with clinical characteristics, sensitivity to light (and) auras,” Dr. Faremouth says. “It also depends on the time of the day when diagnosing a migraine.” Symptoms dictate the diagnosis of migraine. “It’s looking at the package deal with a migraine,” the doctor says. “You have to look in the headache bag and see what comes with it.”
Migraine symptoms are only one part of the package; treating the migraine is a whole different story. “It is time to see the doctor when it is the worst headache of your life and the headache stays for a long time,” Dr. Faremouth says. “Also, if you are experiencing the neurological symptoms of slurred speech, blurred vision, it is time to see a physician.”
If you are unable to make it to your primary physician, a local walk-in medical center is a good choice for those experiencing “the worst headache of your life,” Dr. Faremouth says. “They are certainly good for migraines. I tell my patients if you feel like you are going to die, then go to the emergency department. If not, come into the Walk-in Medical Center.”
Dr. Faremouth treats migraines with a prescription for pain. He also offers osteopathic manipulation. “Osteopathic manipulation can help with migraines that are more in the neck,” he says.
Osteopathic manipulation is the process of applying manual pressure to relieve pain throughout the musculoskeletal system including soft tissues and joints outside the spine.
“I see and treat everything,” he says, but headaches definitely are something I see often. It can be hard to diagnose a headache in older patients because you have to be concerned that the headache is not an aneurism … or a stroke.
“Take your medication if you have been diagnosed with migraine aphasia or chronic migraines,” he says. “It is essential to take the medication before the migraine becomes full blown. If you have not been diagnosed, over-thecounter medication such as Tylenol or Advil are good choices to alleviate the pain as well as an anti-nausea medication that can help block the nauseating feeling caused by the pain of the migraine.”
There are also simple at-home treatments that can help with the migraine. Dr. Faremouth suggests lying down in a dark room with a cold compress. “Caffeine can also help with a migraine — a glass of soda or a cup of coffee … keeping hydrated can help to block migraine.”
Knowing what causes migraines can help. “Certain triggers such as stress, anxiety and smells can often trigger a migraine,” the doctor says. “It’s a good idea to stay away from fragrance departments at stores if you know a smell could trigger a migraine.”
Those who suffer from migraines may have a genetic link. “Most likely the reason for migraines is that they are hereditary,” Dr. Faremouth says. ¦
— Dr. James Faremouth, D. O., practices at the Millennium Physician Group Walk- in Medical Center in Port Charlotte. To learn more, visit www.MillenniumPhysician.org.