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Percy Harvin of the Vikings Collapses on the Field

In a scary scene yesterday, Percy Harvin, wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings, fell to the ground during practice.  He collapsed on the field and was taking, by ambulance, to the hospital.  He was admitted to the hospital over night and released today.  What are migraines?

Medical issues that can be seen and felt are easy to understand, like an Achilles tear or broken bone.  However, the severity of “softer” issues that can not be felt or seen are a little more difficult to appreciate. So, what is a migraine?

ANATOMY

Migraines continue to be a mysterious disease that we do not understand fully.  However, environmental and genetic factors play a role.  It is believed that during a migraine, serotonin levels drop, causing the brain to release proteins.  These proteins travel to the outer covering of the brain (the meninges) and cause the pain.

CAUSES

Although we do not understand all of the triggers for migraines, it is known that hormonal changes in women, stress, foods (salty, MSG, aged cheese, red wines, and chocolate), bright lights, loud sounds, the sun, physical exertions, medications, and changes in sleep patterns can all cause an attack.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Migraines are headaches that can increase in intensity slowly or occur suddenly.  They can cause severe pain for hours or even days. For some, during a migraine attack, dark, quiet areas are the only environments that can be handled.  Many people will have nausea and vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound.

Some migraines can be triggered by flashing lights and bright lights.  Many people describe the sensations such as “auras”, flashing lights, blind spots, or tingling in the arm or leg before an attack occurs.

Migraines can start in childhood, adolescence, or in early adulthood.  Patients can experience severe pain with activity, pain on one side of the head, pulsating or throbbing pain, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE

If you have had a series of severe headaches or migraines, you should see a health care professional for evaluation and treatment options.  Furthermore, if you have any of the following:  a severe headache with or without fevers, a stiff neck, rashes, mental status changes, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness or trouble speaking, a headache after a head injury, a constant headache that is made worse after coughing, exertion, straining or a sudden movement, you should also seek medical attention.

TREATMENT

Although there are no cures for migraines, medications can be used to stop an attack or even decrease the frequency and intensity of attacks.  These medications range from over the counter medications to strong prescription medications.  A physician must oversee the use of these medications, as different patients respond to different medications differently.

OUTCOMES

Most patients return to healthy, active lifestyles after the migraine attack has passed.  The biggest goal is trying to understand and avoid triggers of attacks.

Dr. P

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All material published through this blog/website is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. Patients and consumers should review the information carefully with their professional health care provider. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Dr. Parekh and Duke University will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages arising from the discussions in this blog.

 

 

Locations

  • N.C. Orthopaedic Clinic
  • Durham Regional Hospital
  • Davis Ambulatory Surgery Center
  • Duke Hospital North
  • Duke Ambulatory Surgery Center

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