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Headache

Headache: Nonvascular
 

Headache without vascular cause. The most commonly diagnosed condition in the United States with 70% of these caused by muscle tension. Causes include suboccipital muscle spasms from injury (whiplash), postural strain (caused, for example, by a computer screen angled incorrectly), pillow too large that forces flexion of the neck during rest. Usually gradual onset, but tends to persist in cyclical patterns of tension and relaxation. In time, patterns will be held in tension as somatic dysfunction leads to segmental malposition.

Symptoms

Most commonly arising from tension in the suboccipital musculature; generally do not throb but are felt as a constant dull ache in various areas of the head and neck; areas of pain are varied because they are often referred pain zones from trigger points in neck and skull muscles.

Nutrients Involved

Vitamins C, E, B3, B6, B-complex, calcium, magnesium

Suggested Nutritional Supplementation

Note for all headaches:

If headaches worsen with exercise, or urinary nitrates (urinary nitrates reflet systemic nitric oxide levels), consider low systemic nitric oxide levels - nitric oxide modulates vasodilation.

Dietary Suggestions

Headache: Vascular / Migraine

Headaches from vascular disturbance. There are several types of vascular headaches:

Migraine: Periodic throbbing headaches. The prodrome seems to be due to a vasoconstriction of the cerebral blood vessels (or the vessels leading into the brain), while the headache itself seems to be due to a vasodilation of the blood vessels with subsequent congestion of tissues; seen more often in women and is thought to affect up to 20-30% of the population; usually begins between the ages of 10-30, and remissions commonly occur after age 50, suggesting a hormonal cause; definite familial component.

Hypertension: The headache is typically throbbing and located in the occiput or vertex. It is paroxysmal. There is a history of renal or cardiovascular disease.

Cluster (histamine headaches): Much more frequent in men; associated histaminic symptoms.

Miscellaneous: Toxic states; infections, alcoholism; uremia; lead; arsenic; morphine; carbon monoxide poisoning; encephalitides; headache is moderate in intensity; there is a history of exposure to a toxin or other signs and symptoms that would point to an associated microorganism.

Symptoms

Migraine: May be unilateral or bilateral, often located about or behind an eye and spreading to one or both sides of the head; frequently there is nausea and vomiting with a desire for darkness and quiet; the headache lasts from hours to 1-3 days; classic type has a prodrome of various symptoms: scintillating scotomas, mood swings, dizziness and tinnitus, dazzling zig-zags, perhaps feeling of impending doom. Physical and neurological findings between attacks are unmarkable; during attacks there may be transient neurological signs.

Hypertension: Physical exam will reveal hypertension with retinopathy, edema, and cardiac findings. Generally, the hypertensive headache is associated with advanced hypertensive disease or attacks of potentially serious hypertension.

Cluster: Headaches are paroxysmal; often wake the patient at night; abrupt onset of severe pain that lasts 1-2 hours; occur typically in clusters of days to weeks and then are not experienced again for months or years; unilateral with associated histaminic symptoms (lacrimation, plugged nose, ptosis, cheeks flushed and ecdemic); remissions may occur, lasting for years or permanently. The physical exam shows facial vasocilation, pupillary constriction, injected conjunctiva; tenderness to palpation of external and common carotid arteries.

Miscellaneous: There is a history of exposure to a toxin or other signs and symptoms that would point to an associated microorganism.

Course and Prognosis

In general, migraine and cluster headaches are chronic conditions that recur and are not cured by conventional treatment. Although they are both benign, the pain can be debilitating and cause much morbidity. Conventional treatment usually involves ergotamine prophylaxis and narcotic analgesics. The hypertensive headache is correctable by controlling the patientís hypertension. If uncontrolled, then serious hypertensive sequelae may occur (e.g. stroke). The toxic headache is treated by dealing with the toxic exposure and ridding the body of the substance. Prognosis for migraine headache is favorable if thorough assessment and avoidance of triggers, along with biochemical/metabolic therapy is undertaken.

Nutrients Involved

Suggested Nutritional Supplementation

Migraine Headache

At Onset:

Preventive Maintenance

Hypertension Headache

Cluster

Toxic Headache

Note for all headaches:

If headaches worsen with exercise, or urinary nitrates (urinary nitrates reflet systemic nitric oxide levels), consider low systemic nitric oxide levels - nitric oxide modulates vasodilation.

Dietary Suggestions

 
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