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Getting Personal About Headaches

Published: June 20, 2009

Headaches are often a nuisance—and occasionally a nightmare.  Here are four strategies from experts at the National Headache Foundation (NHF) to help Post readers chart the right course to headache relief:

1.   Take frequent headaches seriously. Although help is usually available, surveys show that most people with headaches that interfere with family, social, and work life do not seek medical help.
2.   Learn all you can about your headaches.
3.   Keep a log of your headaches and look for clues to triggers and solutions.
4.   Take control and get the help and care you need—and deserve.

There are more than 300 types of headaches.

“No one has the same combination of headache pain, frequency, impairment, or triggers,” says Dr. Roger Cady, director of the Headache Care Center in Springfield, Missouri.  “So, the approach to headache care needs to be as personal as the headaches.”

The NHF is launching a new series of resources on their Web site. The first one, Chart Your Course to Relief, is an interactive tool designed to quickly connect people to the specific information they need and in a way that is not overwhelming, according to Suzanne Simons, executive director of the NHF.

It’s Personal

Erin Hamlin

Erin Hamlin

World champion luger Erin Hamlin knows firsthand the life-altering effects of headaches. Despite suffering a debilitating migraine on the day before the 2009 Luge World Championship in Lake Placid, New York, Hamlin went on to win gold, becoming the first U.S. woman to win the World Championship title. She has since learned about NHF resources and is committed to not only getting relief, but also to helping others as a spokesperson for the organization.

“I want to feel like I have some control over my headaches,” Hamlin says. “With my travel and training schedule, I can’t afford to be down. I owe it to my country, teammates, fans, and family to be at the top of my game, and learning more about my headache patterns with these NHF tools is helping me—and others—achieve that.”

Hamlin, age 22, will now carry the title of World Champion to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Think You Might Have Migraines?
Think “POUND.” Talk to your doctor if your headache symptoms match the following descriptions from Mayo Clinic physicians:
P (pulsating pain), O (one-day duration of severe and untreated attack), U (unilateral or one-sided pain), N (nausea and vomiting), and D (disabling intensity).

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