June 7, 2007
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact: Jerry Carey
Phone: (856) 566-6171
UMDNJ Specialist: Know Your Summer Headache Triggers
- June 3-9 is National Headache Awareness Week -
STRATFORD - For most people, BBQ grills, lawn mowers and relaxing by the water are all signs of summer fun, but for many others they are also the "triggers" that can send them inside, to a darkened, air-conditioned room in a desperate struggle to cope with the effects of a migraine headache.
"More than 30 million Americans suffer from painful, throbbing migraines that can last anywhere from several hours to several days," said Dr. Loretta Mueller, director of the University Headache Center at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine. "For these people, a variety of warm-weather triggers can cause the onset of an attack."
In a survey by the National Headache Foundation, 85 percent of people who experienced migraines said that environmental factors triggered their migraines. Among the factors most commonly cited were changes in altitude or barometric pressure resulting from flying or a sudden weather change; intense smells or vapors; bright or flickering lights, such as sunlight reflected off water or sand; extreme heat and changes to daily diet, sleep or work routines.
"Many of the foods commonly associated with summer months can be migraine triggers, too," Dr. Mueller said. "Alcohol is probably the most common, but other foods to watch out for are ripened cheeses such as cheddar, stilton, brie or camembert; meats that contain a lot of preservatives such as sausage, lunch meats and hot dogs; and any foods that contain the preservative monosodium glutamate (MSG). Caffeine can be both a cause and a cure. A morning cup of coffee helps some people avoid headaches, but drinking large quantities of caffeine and then stopping can stimulate withdrawal symptoms that could lead to a migraine."
Dr. Mueller also recommends keeping a "headache diary" to identify headache triggers along with medication or lifestyle changes that result in a successful treatment. A headache diary should include the date, time, length, severity and symptoms of the headache, any possible food or environmental triggers as well as a note about the effectiveness of any medication.
To request an interview with Dr. Mueller, please contact Jerry Carey, UMDNJ News Service, at (856) 566-6171 or (973) 972-3000.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.