News to Noodle

I’m tired of complaining, so here’s some news and information.

Children May Outgrow Migraines

A majority of adolescents with migraines either stop having headaches or develop less-severe ones as they reach adulthood, new research shows.

Of the 55 children studied, 40% had remission by their early 20s, while 20% shifted to less troubling tension-type headaches, according to the report, published in the Oct. 24 issue of Neurology.

Migraine Study Brings Men New Headaches

. . . [M]en who experience migraine attacks have a 24 percent increased risk of suffering from major cardiovascular problems and a 42 percent increased risk of suffering a heart attack.

Web Health Info Seekers Tend Not to Check Sources

Only one-fourth of Americans who search the Internet for health advice regularly check the source and date of the information they find to assess its quality. . . .

Just 15 percent of those surveyed said they always checked the source and date of the health information found online, while another 10 percent said they did so most of the time. Three-quarters of those surveyed said they checked the source and date sometimes, hardly ever or never, Pew said.

I’m appalled by these numbers. There’s too much bad information online to accept it at face value. I never use a source that I’m even slightly skeptical of.

[via Kevin, MD]

Oh, the pain of it all! Oh, the pain!

An ER doc’s take on distinguishing real pain patients from drug seekers:

I occasionally wish my job demanded something more than a valid DEA license, and decision-making skills beyond “yes narcs” and “no narcs.” It just drains the carpe right out of your diem to start the day off in a series of ugly little dogfights over drugs with people whom, to put it charitably, you have concerns about the validity of their reported pain.

Now please don’t jump to conclusions here. Pain sucks, and in the common event that I know to a reasonable certainty that someone is suffering, I am quite free with the narcotics. That’s a big part of my raison d’etre. The problem is that increasingly, it seems that the chronic pain complaints far outnumber the acute pain complaints, and treating chronic (or recurrent) pain in the ED is fraught with difficulty to say the least. You don’t know the patient, they come to the ED over and over for the same thing, they are demanding (both in terms of time expended and emotional energy), some are dishonest, there always seems to be some barrier to treatment which requires ED therapy (“Doctor out of town,” “Lost prescription,” “Only a shot works,” “Threw up my pills,” etc), and there is never objective evidence of physical disease.

[via Kevin, MD]

Sensitivity to Pain Explained

Stabbing back pain or the aches of arthritis send some people to bed in misery while the same distress seems easily tolerated by others. Why does pain hurt some people more than others? Scientists finally have an answer.

It involves a single molecule under control of a gene that acts like a dimmer switch. A “bright” or high setting excites sensory nerves to produce more of a chemical called BH4. For scientists, BH4 has one meaning, but for sufferers, it might as well mean “Big Hurt.” Lower settings block BH4, protecting people from the wrench and bite of chronic pain.

New Report Finds Pain Affects Millions of Americans

One in four U.S. adults say they suffered a day-long bout of pain in the past month, and one in 10 say the pain lasted a year or more, according to the government’s annual, comprehensive report of Americans’ health. . . .


Grand Rounds at Doctor Anonymous

This week’s Grand Rounds is up at Doctor Anonymous.

Not familiar with this blog carnival? It’s a weekly glimpse into posts around the medical blogosphere. You can find the Grand Rounds archives on Blogborygmi.

So Tired, So Frustrated

That sums it up. I’ve been exhausted since Thursday, was exhausted and had terrible migraines on Saturday, Sunday and today, and had a moderately painful headache lingering yesterday. No treatment seems to be working. Not that I’m surprised.

D, my acupuncturist and herbalist, and I agree that the headache-specific acupuncture points weren’t working for me. We’ve switched to a stress-reducing/anxiety-relieving/calming treatment. I had needlings Thursday, Friday and yesterday. I was exhausted before I went to every appointment — and still am — but my headaches haven’t escalated any of the evenings after a treatment.

I’m no longer simply grateful for the few hours of energy and clarity I got with one of my earlier treatments. Now my thoughts are about the mind that I’ve lost, the severity of which I only truly grasped after I had it back for a while. It’s been a month and I don’t see the mental fog lifting again.

It’s hard to not be discouraged.

It’s Hard to Be Thankful

Living with illness can make even the most optimistic person feel defeated. Rae from Limbodacious has written (yet another) beautiful post about a recent realization.

“. . . [O]n one particularly beautiful autumn day, Husband and I decided to take some of our dogs out for a nice walk. As we rounded the corner coming back towards our house, I was overcome by one of those lovely moments where everything that you hold dear is all in your line of sight. I saw my loving husband that works so hard to make me happy, our charming house that we have fixed up with our own hands, our dogs that never allow our lives to be dull, all on our darling tree-lined street in a friendly and safe neighborhood.”

“And I just thought, wow… my life sucks.”

It’s worth clicking through to the full post.

Chug! Chug! Chug!

Chugging beer is a skill I’ve never acquired; I’m not any good at doing shots either. I would have been better off improving these skills than chewing my fingernails off studying for exams.

Choking down the Chinese herbal tea formula — animal parts, twigs and all — that my acupuncturist devised is now part of my routine. The full grocery bag that I brought home yesterday held a week’s worth of herbs in seven bulging lunch sacks.

Coupled with D’s warnings about the tea’s vile taste — in China the saying is that if a tea tastes good, the formula isn’t good — and the potential of vomiting, the smell the bag emitted was ominous. Even better, it takes an hour to cook and I have to drink it after dinner, but three hours before bed. Mmm, we ate a tasty dinner with the odoriferous concoction simmering on the stove.

The recipe takes four and a half cups of water and is supposed to cook down to one cup; I wound up with two. Afraid that I would change the tea’s potency if I let it reduce to a single cup, I reluctantly took on the challenge.

Even without a chorus of frat boys cheering me on, I drank it all. It was truly awful but not as gross as I expected. Until I hit the bottom where all the sludge accumulated. Still, no vomiting and no horrendous aftertaste (unlike beer).

I see D again today (my insurance covers 45 acupuncture visits a year, so I’m going to cram in as many as I can). I hope he can impart the secret to making only one cup; I don’t think I can repeat last night’s feat.

Gusty, 100% Chance of Rain

Rain_cloudSeattle’s weather matches my headaches today. Wind gusts challenge the trees. They’re holding up so far, but I’m sure many plants won’t make it through the day. Just like I won’t make it through the day without the severe pain I’ve felt intermittently all morning taking me down.

A 100% chance of rain is a given with daily headaches. Some days I’m blessed with a drizzle of pain. Others a bad migraine is sure to strike.

Today’s unlike Seattle’s usual pattern. The secret that Seattleites don’t want others to know is that it does rain every day, but normally it’s a drizzle. The past couple weeks have brought heavy rains and flooding.

I’d love for my headache patterns to match typical Seattle rains. The last two months I’ve had little reprieve from daily deluges.

Beyond the metaphorical, the two are often connected. I’m not sure about other headache types, but studies have shown that weather is a migraine trigger. The biggest culprits: A combination of high or low temperatures and humidity, major changes over one or two days, high or low air pressure, changes in air pressure.

While you can’t control the weather, you can minimize its impact by checking forecasts and reducing or avoiding controllable triggers (stress, too little sleep, skipping meals, etc.) when weather conditions look bad.

At least that’s what all the articles and websites say. I’ve never tracked it and have no relevant anecdotes. All I know is that I don’t want to be imprisoned by another ungovernable variable.

Grand Rounds at The Rumors Were True

This week’s Grand Rounds is up at The Rumors Were True. Not familiar with this blog carnival? It’s a weekly glimpse into posts around the medical blogosphere. You can find the Grand Rounds archives on Blogborygmi.