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Migraine Headaches: Diagnosis

 

So, just who’s at risk for developing migraine headaches?  If other members of your family suffer with this type of headache, your chances of getting them is increased.  But 

even if there is no history of migraine headaches in your family, you still may be at risk if you’re young and a female.

Women, it seems are three times more likely to experience the symptoms of a migraine than men.  We’ve noted that many migraines are triggered by hormonal changes in the body.  It’s shouldn’t come as much as a surprise then that many women report changes in their migraine experiences during their pregnancy or when they’ve reached menopause.  If your headache frequency fluctuates during these times, then taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy may only worse your headaches.

Once you suspect that your headaches are true migraines, how can you tell for sure?  Your health care practitioner has several methods at his disposal to pinpoint exactly what type of headaches you’re experiencing.

Your health-care practitioner may first schedule you for a computerized tomography or CT.  This is an imaging procedure which uses a series of computer-directed X-rays.  This provides the medical experts with a cross-sectional view of your brain. Armed with this your health care practitioner can rule out a possible tumor, infection or other problem which may be at the root of your frequent headaches.

Another tool your health care practitioner may utilize is magnetic resonance imaging, better known as an MRI.  This particular device uses radio waves and a powerful magnet that produces an extremely detailed cross-section view of your brain.  This is just another tool your health care practitioner uses to help diagnose the presence of tumors, strokes, or aneurysms as well as various neurological diseases and other brain abnormalities.  These may all contribute to the occurrence of the headaches.  The MRI is also a method to evaluate the vessels that supply blood to the brain.

Your health care practitioner may also suspect that meningitis or the bleeding of a blood vessel outside of the brain may be the underlying problem of your pain.  In this case she may recommend that you undergo a spinal tap.  This procedure involves the insertion of a thin needle between two of the vertebrae in your lower back.  This injection extracts a portion of your cerebrospinal fluid for analysis.  The process itself takes about 30  minutes.  If your health care practitioner recommends this, you should be prepared to experience a headache at the completion of the process, since you system will experience a drop in your cerebrospinal fluid pressure.





Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.

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Greg Cryns
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