10 Truths about Migraines and Myths They BUST!

June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, a dedicated time for migraine specialists and other health care providers, patient advocates and the migraine community to unite their voices to advocate for migraine recognition and treatment. The 2018 theme is “You Are Not Alone,” and it reminds people living with migraine that more than 37 million other people empathize and can feel their pain.

My wife routinely gets  headaches that might level a normal human.  While she still keeps going as if nothing is happening, I say this, not because I can feel her pain or truly know the level, but because she tells me she is in pain. If she says it, I know it would take me out, because she has superhuman pain tolerance – she labored, at home, for 36 hours without meds!

I suspect she is having migraines.  She just keeps moving.

Myths and misconceptions around migraines abound. They perpetuate themselves and feed the stigma associated with Migraines.  Below are some of the most prevalent Migraine myths and the corresponding truths as reported on Migraine.com:

Myth #1: A Migraine is just a bad headache.

Truth: Migraine is a neurological disease characterized by flare-ups most commonly called simply, “Migraines,” or “Migraine attacks.” The headache, when there is one, is only one of many possible symptoms of a Migraine attack. Migraine attacks can and do sometimes occur with no headache at all. These are classified as “silent” or “acephalgic Migraines.” There are four possible phases of a Migraine attack, and many possible symptoms. In fact, for a true diagnosis of Migraine, there must be symptoms other than headache.

Myth #2: Migraines don’t last for days, and nobody has a Migraine every day.

Truth: The “typical” Migraine lasts from four to 72 hours, but Migraines can last longer. They sometimes last days, weeks, or even months. When they last longer than 72 hours, contact about physician. Unfortunately, some people do have Migraines nearly daily and even daily. Chronic Migraine (CM) is all too real. By definition, CM is having Migraines or tension-type headaches 15 or more days per month. Although the symptoms and pain levels of CM are similar to those of episodic Migraine (less than 15 days per month), studies have shown that the frequency of the Migraines dramatically increases the burden and causes CM to have significantly higher impact than episodic Migraine. Other studies have shown that the stigma associated with CM is also higher.

Myth #3: Migraines aren’t life-threatening, just annoying.

Truth: Although a Migraine itself may not be life-threatening, complications of Migraines and risk factors associated with Migraine can be. Studies have confirmed a link between Migraine and stroke and other cardiovascular diseases and events. Studies have also confirmed a link between Migraine and suicide. Much could be written on this topic, but consider just these two statistics.

  • “Greater than 1,400 more U.S. women with Migraine with aura die annually from cardiovascular diseases compared to women who do not have Migraine.”
  • “Based on a sample of Americans, suicide attempts are three times more likely in individuals with Migraine with aura compared to those with no Migraine, whether or not major depression is also present.”

Myth #4: Any doctor will recognize and properly treat Migraine.

Truth: Mainly due to a lack of adequate physician education, this is definitely a myth. It’s also a misconception that all neurologists are Migraine specialists. They’re not; nor are all Migraine specialists neurologists.

In a 2011 report, the World Health Organization stated, “Lack of knowledge among health-care providers is the principal clinical barrier to effective headache (including Migraine) management.” This same report revealed that non-specialist physician undergraduate medical training included just four hours about headache and Migraine; specialist (neurologist) training included 10 hours.

Myth #5: Only women have Migraines.

Truth: 18% of women and 6 to 8% of men suffer with Migraines.

Myth #6: Only adults have Migraines.

Truth: People of all ages have Migraines. Some children have Migraines while very young, before they’re even old enough to tell anyone what’s wrong. With children that young, diagnosis is achieved by reviewing family medical history and observing the child’s behavior.

Myth #7: If you don’t have auras, you don’t have Migraines.

Truth: Only 25 to 30% of sufferers have Migraine with aura, and few of them have aura with every Migraine attack. Most people who have Migraine with aura also have Migraine without aura.

Myth #8: People who get Migraines are intelligent, highly-achieving, high-strung people with a “Migraine personality.”

Truth: At one time, there was a theory a set of “personality features and reactions dominant in individuals with migraine” existed that included “Feelings of insecurity with tension manifested as inflexibility, conscientiousness, meticulousness, perfectionism, and resentment”, referred to as the “Migraine personality.”  These “notions regarding a generalization of the migraine personality have not withstood the test of time; in fact,  current research suggests that there is no one dominant personality profile among those with migraine.”

Myth #9: There’s nothing that can be done about Migraines. We have to “just live with them.”

Truth: This is far from the truth. Although there is no cure for Migraine disease at this time, one dies not have to “just live with them.” With the help of a doctor who truly understands the disease, work on trigger identification and management and treatments aids in effective Migraine management. There are many options for Migraine prevention…more than ever before. There is a small percentage of sufferers, approximately 5%, with chronic and intractable (do not respond to medications) Migraines who continue to struggle, even with these options. The need for increased awareness and research funding on a federal level is largely responsible for the lack of progress in this area.

Myth #10: A Migraine is a Migraine is a Migraine. They’re all alike.

Truth: To begin with, there are several different types of Migraine. The two main types are Migraine with aura and Migraine without aura. Then there are subtypes of Migraine with aura: basilar-type Migraine, sporadic and familial hemiplegic Migraine, There’s also retinal Migraine; abdominal Migraine; complications of Migraine such as chronic Migraine, and more.

One person’s Migraines can be dramatically different from another’s and even one person’s Migraines can vary from one to the next.

Get help for your headaches and understanding of the suffering and how to handle triggers.  Find the right physician that is trained and at the ready using HealthLynked.  We are the first ever healthcare social network designed to Lynk patients with the physicians who will more closely collaborate with them than ever before using our novel applications.

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CMV is Serious – 1 in Every 150 Children is Born with Cytomegalovirus

National legislation has been passed designating the month of June as “National Cytomegalovirus Awareness Month” recommending “more effort be taken to counsel women of childbearing age of the effect this virus can have on their children”.   In this second week, the theme is “CMV is Serious”.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 1 in every 150 children is born with congenital CMV (cytomegalovirus). CMV is the most common congenital (meaning present at birth) infection in the United States and is the most common viral cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities, including deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, mental and physical disabilities, seizures, and death.

CMV is a common virus, present in saliva, urine, tears, blood, and mucus, and is carried by 75 percent of healthy infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and children who contract the virus from their peers. About 60 percent of women are at risk for contracting CMV during pregnancy, posing a major risk to mothers, daycare workers, preschool teachers, therapists, and nurses. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the CDC recommend that OB/GYNs counsel women on basic prevention measures to guard against CMV infection. These include frequent hand washing, not kissing young children on the mouth, and not sharing food, towels, or utensils with them.

CMV is Serious

  • Every hour, one child is permanently disabled by CMV
  • CMV is the leading non-genetic cause of childhood hearing loss
  • CMV also causes vision loss, mental disability, microcephaly, cerebral palsy, behavior issues, and seizures
  • 90% of babies born with CMV will appear healthy at birth
  • 400 children die from CMV every year
  • Scientific research has found a connection between CMV and miscarriage

Want to help raise awareness of CMV?  Join National CMV’s hashtag awareness campaign and share infographcs, photos, and stories on social media!  National CMV maintains a website-based tagboard – a curated public display of all social media posts with the hashtags #stopcmv and #cmvawareness. You can check out the tagboard by simply scrolling down on their homepage!

Each week of June will have a different themed awareness infographic, as well as ideas for a weekly photo that you can post to social media to tell the world about your experience with CMV. They suggest you get creative and be authentic, even if the suggested photos may not apply to your experience–all of our stories are important!

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A Once Controversial Bear Hug Now Saves Lives

At the end of the long, stark white hall, walking from work after a long day, I saw three friends laughing as they left the cafeteria of the hospital.  I couldn’t make out their faces, as they were brightly backlit by sun pouring in the large exit doors I was headed toward. Approaching closer, I could see the two ladies flanking their fellow nurse in the middle were slapping her on the back.  I thought they were really having a fantastic time!

Then, at about five feet from the group, when I could truly see their faces, it was apparent the lady in the middle was not having as much fun as the two by her sides.  While her two friends were still quite jovial – laughing as the kept hitting her, the one on the middle was clearly panicked.

She was choking.

It was 1998, a time when back slapping a choking victim was regaining prominence.  Thankfully, years of military first aid Training kicked in….I asked if she could speak, and she shook her head violently, “N O !“

The nurse in the middle was a large lady, to put it lightly.  I told her what I was going to do to help.  Wrapping my arms around her, fists below her rib cage and “j-ing” up just wasn’t working.  So, I picked her up with the same reverse bear hug and bounced her, using gravity to help.  Out popped a peppermint, right into her hand.

After many thank-yous from her and the continuing guffaws from her friends, we all parted ways – her much happier for the encounter.

A few years before, our then five-year old was upstairs with her sister, yelling, “Momma, the baby!  Momma, the baby!”  My wife bounded up to our 6-Month old’s room to find our oldest and our infant both terrified.  Our baby was gasping for air, and blood was coming from her mouth.

My wife’s first aid Training also kicked in (she was training to be a diagnostic medical sonographer at the time)….She looked inside our youngest’s mouth and could see nothing.  She finger-swept the back of her throat, and felt something lodged there…  (note:  debate is still open on mouth sweep)

My kids’ super hero mom flipped her over, held her slightly down across her forearm, commenced back blows toward her chest….and out came nothing.  She tried five more blows which only produced only more blood.

She called 911. Our six-month-old was gasping for air in distress.  All three were terrified.  I was at work.  Thank God for their mom.  I would have fallen apart.

You never want to see your littlest loved one loaded into an ambulance.  My wife rode along, and a neighbor took our oldest.  I got the call you never want:  “LT Horel, this is EMT Smith.  There is nothing you can do, so make sure you drive the speed limit and come to Sacred Heart Hospital.  Your wife is here with your daughter.  She is being given the best possible care; she is going into surgery to remove a foreign object blocking her airway.  Your wife needs you to be here with her.  Drive safely.  That’s all you can do now.”

Luckily, the object was the disposable cover of an otoscope – that curious tool used to look into your ears and the back of your throat.  Our neighbor was an ER doctor, and the neighborhood kids played with his all the time, evidently.  My oldest thought it would be something fun for her and her sister to play with, too.  A baby often sees something new and investigates by putting in their mouth, so pop it in she did.

Just enough air got through, and while things were touch and go then, that little lady has grown up to be an incredible teacher in the Bronx.  I will never forget how she looked on this day; she was a pitiful little bundle of distressed and confused baby for whom the Heimlich failed.  Not because mom didn’t do everything right; Instead, because of what was in her throat, and how it was lodged.


Today marks the 44th anniversary of the invention of the Heimlich maneuver —a method for saving a choking victim with a bear hug and abdominal thrusts to eject a throat obstruction.  Given life in 1974, it has become a national safety icon, taught in schools, portrayed in movies, displayed on restaurant posters and endorsed by medical authorities.

It is the stuff of breathless, brink-of-death tales – like the two true stories above – and those told over the years by icons like Ronald Reagan, Edward I. Koch, Elizabeth Taylor, Goldie Hawn, Cher, Walter Matthau, Carrie Fisher, Jack Lemmon, the sportscaster Dick Vitale, the television newsman John Chancellor and many others.  Dr. Henry J. Heimlich, the thoracic surgeon and medical maverick who developed and crusaded for the antichoking technique, has been credited with saving over 100,000 lives.  He passed just two years ago.

The Heimlich maneuver, when he first proposed it, was suspect — an unscientific and possibly unsafe stunt that might be too difficult for laymen to perform and might even cause internal injuries or broken bones in a choking victim.

But the stakes were high. In the 1970s, choking on food or foreign objects – like toys, which my five-year-old thought the otoscope cap was – stood as the sixth-leading cause of accidental death in America.  Choking resulted in some 4,000 fatalities annually, many of them children. A blocked windpipe often left a victim unable to breathe or talk, gesturing wildly to communicate distress that mimicked a heart attack. In four minutes, an oxygen-starved brain begins to suffer irreversible damage. Death follows shortly thereafter.

Standard first aid for choking victims, advocated then by the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association, consisted of a couple of hard slaps on the back or a finger down the throat. But Dr. Heimlich believed those pushed an obstruction farther down in the windpipe, wedging it more tightly. He knew there was a reserve of air in the lungs and reasoned that sharp upward thrusts on the diaphragm would compress the lungs, push air back up the windpipe and send the obstruction flying out, like that peppermint.

His solution — wrapping arms around a victim from behind, making a fist just above the victim’s navel and below the ribcage, then thrusting up sharply.  Worked on dogs, so why not humans?  His ideas, published in The Journal of Emergency Medicine in an informal article headlined “Pop Goes the Cafe Coronary,” were met with skepticism.

Anticipating resistance from his peers, Dr. Heimlich sent copies to major newspapers around the country. Days later, a Washington State man who had read about it used the maneuver to save a neighbor.

Other cases began to hit the headlines. A 5-year-old Massachusetts boy saved a playmate after seeing the maneuver he had seen demonstrated on television. Testimonials flooded in…. Dr. Heimlich was on his way to celebrity.

In a profession that then frowned on self-promotion, he was regarded as a publicity-seeking eccentric, if not a crackpot. But as saved lives accumulated into mounds of real evidence, skeptics were silenced, state and federal health authorities endorsed the technique, and its popularity spread. Today, it is known to millions from the internet, television, films, pamphlets, books, newspapers and magazines, talked up in families and taught in schools, often with videos provided by the Heimlich Institute.

According to WikiHow, there are four ways to perform the Heimlich.  They all follow a similar format.

For a standing person

Determine if the person is truly choking.

A choking victim will often have their hands around their throat. If you notice someone making this gesture, look for other choking signals. You should only perform the Heimlich on a choking person. Look for the following

  • Cannot breathe or experiencing loud, difficult breathing
  • Cannot speak
  • Inability to cough effectively
  • Blue or gray color to lips and fingernail beds
  • Loss of consciousness
Let the person know you’re going to perform the Heimlich or abdominal thrusts.

Tell the choking person you want to help them. Let them know you know the Heimlich Maneuver and are going to perform it on them.

Wrap your arms around the person’s waist.

Stand with your legs separated to best support your body. Gently wrap both arms around their waist. Lean them forward slightly.

Position your hands.

With one hand, make a fist. Which hand you use does not matter. Position your fist below the ribcage, but above the navel. Then, wrap your other hand around your fist.

Make a series of thrusts.

To make a thrust, press hard and quick into the abdomen. Pull inward and upward as you press. It should feel like you’re trying to lift the person off the ground.

  • Make the thrusts quick and forceful.
  • Perform five abdominal thrusts in quick succession. If the object is still not dislodged, repeat with five additional thrusts.
Perform back blows.

If the object is not dislodged with the Heimlich maneuver, do back blows. Deliver five blows to the person’s back with the heel of your hand. Aim for the area between the shoulder blades.

Press down hard, as you need to use enough force to dislodge the object.  However, keep the force confined to your hands. Do not squeeze the area surrounding the person’s ribcage or abdomen.

Call emergency services.

Call emergency services if the object is not dislodged. Preferably, have someone else call emergency services after the Heimlich fails the first time and you are performing another round of back blows. When an emergency service worker arrives, they can get the object dislodged. At this point, stay away from the choking person

For an infant

Hold the infant face down.

To start, find a firm surface. Lay the infant on the firm surface with their face down. Make sure the infant’s head is turned so they can breathe. Kneel near the infant’s feet.

You can also place the infant on your lap face down.

Give the baby five quick blows to the back.

Use the heel of your hand. Deliver five quick blows to the area between the infant’s shoulder blades. Hopefully, an object will pop out quickly.

With an infant, be firm in the blows but do not use harsh force. You do not want to press too hard, as this could hurt an infant. Gravity combined with back blows can provide adequate force to dislodge the object.

Turn the infant over.

If no object pops out, turn the infant over. Support their head with your hand, keeping the head slightly lower than the feet.

Give the infant five chest thrusts.

Place your fingers on the lower half of the infant’s breastbone. Make sure to keep your hand in the middle of your infant’s breastbone and not to one side of another. Press down five times in a series of chest thrusts. If you see the object become dislodged, stop giving chest thrusts.

Call emergency services if the object fails to come out.

Immediately call 9-1-1 if the object does not become dislodged. As you wait, repeat the back blows and the chest thrusts. Repeating the steps may cause the object to become dislodged while you’re waiting.

There are also methods for a victim lying on the ground and for performing the lifesaving technique on yourselfYou can find those here….


Back to the man and the history of the maneuver itself.   Dr. Heimlich developed and held patents on a score of medical innovations and devices, including mechanical aids for chest surgery that were widely used in the Vietnam War, procedures for treating chronic lung disease and methods for helping stroke victims relearn to swallow. He also claimed to have invented a technique for replacing a damaged esophagus with stomach parts, but later acknowledged he learned a Romanian surgeon had been using it for four years prior to his published article.  No one is sure if he really knew, but he was invited to Romania after he learned to meet the man and champion the procedure.

No one knows how many lives have been saved by this technique, although reported choking deaths declined after its popularization. The Heimlich Institute claims 50,000 lives saved in the United States alone. A 2009 Op-Ed article in The New York Times estimated that 100,000 people had been rescued from choking. The American Medical Association, which endorsed the technique in 1975 and gave it the name Heimlich maneuver, says it saves unknown thousands annually.  Most likely go unreported these days, like the case of the jovial nurses above.  Just a matter of a day in a hospital hallway.

In 1984, Dr. Heimlich, the recipient of many honors, won the Albert Lasker Public Service Award, one of the nation’s most prestigious medical science prizes, for a “simple, practical, cost-free solution to a life-threatening emergency, requiring neither great strength, special equipment or elaborate training.”  A surgeon well regarded by many, while considered a crackpot self-promoter by some, used what would be considered social campaigning to get the word out, appearing on TV and publishing in every print piece who would honor the request.  Omni magazine, in a 1983 article, quotes him saying, “I can do more toward saving lives in three minutes on television than I could do all my life in the operating room.”

A novel invention that saves lives and represents a paradigm shift.  That’s what we designed our platform to be.  At HealthLynked, we have built a healthcare ecosystem established for a higher purpose – Improving HealthCare.  Through the efficient exchange of information, we ensure patients get the best care possible by consolidating relevant health information for providers in one, easy to access and secure location.   Think of it as a great big, medical bear hug!

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Sources:

NYTimes.com

WikiHow.com

 

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