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HeadWay, Issue #097 -- Combinations: More Complicated, More Effective
July 31, 2012

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In this month's issue:

Combinations: More Complicated, More Effective

Don't miss these articles... (and get involved)

Say what?!  Gluten

Combinations: More Complicated, More Effective

This is how we make migraine treatment (and cluster treatment, and tension type headache treatment - et cetera) more complicated... and more effective.

It's by mixing treatments together.

Yes, it sure does make things more complicated.  And with so many treatments available today, it means that it's simply impossible to try all the treatments with all the combinations.  But it does mean that more people are being treated with success.

Why Combinations Work

Why can't there just be a silver bullet that cures your headaches?  Why are combinations so effective?  Here are a couple of reasons...
  • Multiple factors are likely triggering your attacks.  Because the causes of headache disorders are probably complex issues in the brain, we treat various parts of the chain reaction that bring on your symptoms, including things that can trigger an attack.  For most people, there are multiple things that can be treated - or that must be treated - in order to stop attacks.
  • Synergy. Excuse the cliché, but treatments often work together in a synergistic way.  That is, adding two treatments together make each individual treatment more powerful than it would be on its own.  In this case, 2+2=5.

How to avoid Combination Disaster

Too many people take a hodge-podge approach to combining treatments, and as a result they miss treatments that could actually help!  Don't let this happen to you!
  • If possible, add one at a time.  A good rule of thumb for many treatments is to try them for 90 days.  It's hard to be patient, but the truth is many treatments do not start to work right away.  Even if they do, it takes time to really see how much of a difference they make.  If you can, try a treatment for 90 days.  If it helps, you can try adding another treatment.  If it doesn't work, try something else, or take a break.
  • Keep a detailed diary.  It's absolutely essential to keep a detailed diary of which treatments you're trying and how your symptoms (not just headaches) are changing.  Our memories are far less reliable than we think.  For help, check out A Migraine Diary: The Lazy Way
  • Think about different types of treatment.  If you're just thinking about medications here, you're missing out on a lot of cutting-edge migraine research.  Think about complimentary treatments (such as chiropractic treatment and biofeedback), think about lifestyle changes (such as exercise or a gluten-free diet), think about cutting out triggers (such as raw onions or certain types of hairspray), think about addressing comorbid diseases (things that tend to go along with headache disorders, such as depression or IBS), and think about dietary supplements (such as magnesium or butterbur).  Search for information on these and more here.
  • Try tried and true combinations.  Some medications and dietary supplements come in combinations that have helped a lot of people.  Consider, for example, Migrelief or Foreverwell, or medications such as Treximet.
  • Be cautious about giving up on a specific treatment.  Of course if you have major side effects or an allergic reaction, you're going to avoid a certain medication or supplement.  Otherwise, be cautious about putting it on the "never try again" list.  Sometimes a medication that doesn't work in one combination will help a lot in another.  Other times, a medication that doesn't work will come in a different form that works well (for example, listen to this podcast on gastric stasis).
  • Keep up with the news.  No, I don't mean the TV commercials and big news stories.  I mean keep up with the latest information on reliable websites that will help you decide which treatments are proving to be helpful by research and common use.

Don't miss these articles...

Here are some of the most important articles posted at Headache and Migraine News recently:Do you want to get involved?  Here are a couple of ideas.  If you know of a great headache or migraine specialist in the Chicago area, leave a comment here.  Also, here's your chance to post a favourite recipe and possibly get a migraine cookbook in your mailbox!

Say what?!  Gluten

Gluten-free diets are an increasingly popular (and successful) migraine treatment.  But - what exactly is gluten?  I've been reading the Complete Gluten-Free Diet & Nutrition Guide by Alexandra Anca and Theresa Santandrea-Cull - here is their definition:  Gluten is a component of the protein found in the endosperm portion of the wheat kernel.  Its large size makes it hard to digest.  Instead of getting broken up the way most food does, gluten continues through the system and may be perceived as toxic to the body's immune system.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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