Sara Lindberg

Here’s Why a Migraine Can Make You Feel Incredibly Nauseous

Here’s Why a Migraine Can Make You Feel Incredibly Nauseous

If you feel a queasy, uneasy sensation in your stomach during a migraine attack, it’s probably not from the late-night takeout you ate. According to a 2017 study in the Journal of Pain Research, nausea occurs in about 58% of people during a migraine episode—and that’s a conservative assessment.1 Data from an older, self-reported survey published in the journal Headache found most people experience vomiting and nausea during an episode, with estimates closer to 70 to 90%, respectively.2For non-migraine folks, those numbers may seem surprising. After all, throbbing head pain and visual disturbances are typically viewed as the telltale signs that a migraine is on the horizon. So, how can symptoms that happen way down in the stomach have anything to do with the above-the-neck signs that most people associate with a migraine? For people living with migraine, nausea is just another piece of this complex puzzle.Fortunately, we have some answers about why you feel nauseous with a migraine, and more importantly, tips on how you can stop the pain and discomfort before it goes too far.What causes migraine with nausea and vomiting?The who and why of migraine attacks are already a bit of a mystery, but symptoms can be Clue level head-scratchers. Even though nausea tops the list of migraine symptoms for many people, why this happens is not clear-cut. The good news is experts have a few theories that shed light on the link between migraine and nausea.Migraine involves certain areas of the brainstem.A migraine commonly includes things like nausea, but sometimes vomiting and diarrhea too. Jack Schim, M.D., F.A.H.S., F.A.A.N., co-director of the Neurology Center of Southern California, tells SELF that experts think at least part of this is due to migraine affecting different brainstem areas involved in autonomic functions—the things your body just does automatically—such as digestion. The idea is that migraine attacks irritate the nerves that activate this system, triggering those not-so-fun symptoms.Migraine decreases serotonin levels.Another theory according to Medhat Mikhael, M.D., pain management specialist and medical director of the non-operative program at the Orange Coast Medical Center’s Spine Health Center, is that migraine decreases serotonin levels in the brain, which is believed to contribute to nausea. Serotonin is generally known as the happy chemical keeping our mood on an even keel (among many other important functions in the body). So, it’s no surprise that a decrease in our feel-good chemicals could have noticeable side effects. Dr. Mikhael also says that a decrease in serotonin can trigger motion sickness, another uneasy feeling.Migraine triggers changes in blood vessels in the brain.It’s thought that migraine attacks change blood vessel diameter in the brain. Typically, the diameter increases in size and tugs on the meninges (shock absorber between your skull and brain), which causes throbbing or pulsating pains. “When these changes affect parts of the brain that regulate nausea and vomiting, you may experience stomach problems,” Clifford Segil, D.O., a neurologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California tells SELF.He says one area of the brain, in particular, is on the shortlist of suspects that may trigger nausea and vomiting in people with migraine. That area is called the rostral dorsal medulla and essentially relays sensory information from the spinal cord to the brain. According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Headache and Pain, nausea in the prodrome phase of a migraine—basically the opening act—is linked to activity in this part of the brain.3Migraine causes a certain neurotransmitter to be released.Migraine pain is linked to the release of a neurotransmitter—one of your body’s messengers—called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).4 In fact, certain migraine medications act on this very thing to try to stop a migraine attack from occurring in the first place. Dr. Schim says this neurotransmitter is also prevalent in the gut, which could have something to do with that I’m-going-to-hurl feeling when you have a migraine.Types of migraine and headaches that can cause nauseaBy now you’ve probably figured out that migraine attacks are complicated—we don’t yet know exactly what triggers all the symptoms. What we do know is that certain types of migraine are more likely to cause nausea and vomiting. Oh, and to make matters even more confusing, some headaches—that are not migraines—may also make you toss your cookies.

Can You Get Pregnant on Your Period?

Can You Get Pregnant on Your Period?

According to data published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the fertile window starts five days prior to ovulation and ends on the day of ovulation1. Moreover, the research shows that pregnancy rates peak three days before ovulation and reaches almost zero at two to three days after ovulation.And while some people can pinpoint ovulation based on symptoms alone, others have no idea their bodies undergo massive changes just to release one tiny egg. Fortunately, there are a few signs that may help you track ovulation. According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the first signs to look for are changes in cervical mucus, such as an increase in clear, wet, and stretchy discharge. After ovulation, secretions become cloudier and thicker, and you may notice less of it.You can also check your basal body temperature, which increases slightly—we’re talking less than a half a degree—after ovulation. The best way to monitor temperature changes is to take it every morning before getting out of bed. Make sure you get a thermometer designed to measure basal body temp, as it will measure much smaller increments than a regular thermometer you’d use to check a fever. You’ll need to do this for several days, if not weeks, to determine any patterns. More specifically, look for the rise in temperature. If you ovulate, it typically occurs two to three days before this increase. Once you figure out your ovulatory window, you can use this information to time when you have sex in the future.That may seem like a lot of work, so if tracking these symptoms feels a bit overwhelming, consider an over-the-counter ovulation kit (you can find First Response and Clear Blue at your local pharmacy). These handy devices allow you to test your urine for the surge of hormones that occurs before ovulation. Some even display the optimal days for pregnancy, based on predictions of when you may ovulate.You can also consider using an ovulation calculator, which can help provide an estimate of your fertile window. It does not guarantee pregnancy, nor should it be considered a fool-proof form of birth control, because each person’s fertile window is different. Plus, it can change month to month for the same person. Period tracking apps can also be helpful.Are you fertile if you have your period?If you have regular periods, there’s a good chance you are ovulating. However, there are times when an ovary does not release an egg even though you are having regular bleeding. This is called an anovulatory cycle, and is associated with abnormal uterine bleeding. According to the Cleveland Clinic, about one in 10 people with ovaries and of child-bearing age experience anovulation at some point in their lives.Since the bleeding you experience during an anovulatory cycle can resemble menstruation, it’s important to know the general signs of ovulation and regularly track your menstrual cycles. If you notice any irregularities, such as missing periods or periods that are much heavier or lighter than usual, consider making an appointment with an ob-gyn to discuss your concerns. If you are trying to conceive and have irregular periods, consider speaking with a fertility doctor. Can sperm survive in period blood?Sperm have a sneaky way of hanging around longer than you might think. “Sperm can live up to five or six days in the reproductive tract whether a person is menstruating or not,” Dr. Haque says. If you’ve never really thought about the details of an orgasm, let this blow your mind: With each ejaculation, up to 100 million sperm are released. (And, it probably goes without saying, but it only takes one sperm to meet an egg to make a baby.)

How to Identify These 16 Sneaky Migraine Triggers

How to Identify These 16 Sneaky Migraine Triggers

Another possible cause, and one you have absolutely no control over, is genetics. If one of your parents has a history of migraine, there’s a 50% chance that you’ll have the condition, too. Add both parents to the mix, and your odds increase to 75%, according to the Cleveland Clinic.Unfortunately, migraine triggers are different for everyone, so it’s hard to say if one thing will or will not set off symptoms for each person with the condition. That’s because things like genetic factors, age, biological sex, hormonal changes, reactions to physical and emotional stress, and sleep patterns differ from person to person, Medhat Mikhael, M.D., pain management specialist and medical director of the non-operative program at the Spine Health Center at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center, tells SELF.Even if you have some idea of what to avoid, personal migraine triggers can be confusing. For instance, if you ate some fancy cheese and suspected it triggered a migraine, and then you ate the same cheese a month later and nothing happened, you were probably left scratching your head.Often, one specific migraine trigger doesn’t spur an attack each time you’re exposed to it. So, a better working theory about migraine attacks might consider a combination of triggers instead of one cause alone. And there are some common culprits that seem to tip the scales towards triggering a migraine for a lot of people.Non-food-related migraine triggersWe’ll dive into food-related triggers next, but let’s start with ones that aren’t on your dinner plate.HungerYou might want to think twice before skipping breakfast, or any other meal for that matter. That’s because foregoing meals or skimping on calories causes your blood sugar to drop, which can trigger a headache or a full-blown migraine episode, according to the National Headache Foundation.Stress and anxietyStress is something we all experience to some degree. But if you’re also susceptible to migraine, any increase in life stress, worry, or anxiety can trigger a migraine. In fact, stress is a trigger for migraine attacks in nearly 70% of people who experience migraines.4 Some studies even suggest that people with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder, in particular, have an increased incidence of migraine, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, though the exact link isn’t known.DehydrationOne way to trigger a horrendous headache—including migraine—is to let yourself get dehydrated. While a lack of fluids may be the main culprit for some headaches, it seems that dehydration can aggravate a number of underlying medical conditions such as primary headache disorders, which includes our good friend migraine.5Weather changesEver thought your head was a weather psychic? You might be right. Drastic changes in heat, humidity, wind, and barometric pressure may be a migraine trigger for some people, according to the American Headache Society. While the research linking these two is sparse, it’s worth noting if you experience symptoms with the changing weather.ExerciseAccording to the American Migraine Foundation, exercise can both trigger and treat migraines. On one hand, regular exercise can reduce the frequency of migraines. That’s because exercise releases the natural painkillers in our brain called endorphins. It can also reduce stress and help us sleep better at night—two other migraine triggers. On the other hand, exercise has been known to trigger migraine in certain people. It’s not totally known why that’s the case, but it may have something to do with exercise increasing blood pressure, which affects the nerves in the brain.AllergiesAh, the smell of the outdoors. Blooming buds and tree pollen abound. For some people that may only lead to never-ending bouts of sneezing, wheezing, and congestion. But for others, these outdoor allergic offenders may also increase migraine frequency, too.7Light, sound, and smellThink about this the next time you’re considering a spritz of very potent perfume: Sensory stimuli, including bright light, loud sound, or strong smells can trigger migraine. Clifford Segil, M.D., a neurologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF that among sensory triggers, visual stimulation appears to be the most common. Some people describe migraine being provoked by bright or flashing lights, while others report being triggered by certain visual patterns.Certain medicationsMedications can be a lifesaver for many chronic health conditions, including migraine attacks. But if you deal with regular migraine episodes and take acute pain medication more than 15 days a month, you may experience medication overuse headache (MOH), according to the American Migraine Foundation. This can happen if you start taking more medication—particularly pain medications like narcotics, triptans, and others—in response to an increase in attacks. Why this happens isn’t totally understood, but it is thought to have something to do with how these medications lower your threshold for pain while simultaneously reinforcing pain pathways in the brain.Teeth grindingBruxism (teeth grinding and clenching) can trigger headaches and even migraine episodes, according to the Mayo Clinic, since clenching your teeth at night can put a lot of stress on the temporomandibular joint and the supporting head and neck muscles. While wearing a nightguard or a custom orthotic appliance might not be the sexiest look, it could help you avoid your next migraine attack.Computer screensWe’re all guilty of staring at a screen too long sometimes. But if you’re susceptible to migraine, you may want to think twice before binge-watching your favorite Netflix series. According to Sage Journals,8 spending over two hours daily gazing at a screen is associated with migraine in young adults.Too much or too little sleepSleep is another big trigger for migraine, but like many things on this list, it’s not a simple explanation. Not sleeping enough can trigger a migraine, but so can sleeping too much, according to The Migraine Trust. The idea is that basically your circadian rhythm—what tells you when it’s time to sleep and wake up—gets all out of whack and triggers a migraine as a result.Certain hormonesAccording to Dr. Mikhael, fluctuations in female hormone levels, particularly estrogen, play an important role in the pathophysiology of migraine. Around the menstrual period, estrogen levels rapidly drop causing major changes in the chemical neurotransmitter serotonin, which can trigger a migraine attack.

What to Expect From Addiction Treatment, Because There Are So Many Options

What to Expect From Addiction Treatment, Because There Are So Many Options

Acknowledging that you, or someone you love, may have a substance use disorder isn’t easy. Just the fact that you have come to this conclusion, though, is a positive step and deserves a shoutout. Now let’s get into what you really want to know: how to find the care you need.Thankfully, there are various levels of addiction treatment programs available that can help kickstart your journey towards recovery. Just like any other medical issue (or pretty much anything else in life), it’s not a one-size-fits-all disorder, so treatment isn’t either.Current treatments for addiction include inpatient programs, outpatient programs, behavioral therapy, medication, and group addiction counseling, among others. Whether you’re just curious about what addiction treatment entails or you’re ready to get started, we’ve broken down what you need to know to help yourself or someone you love through this process.What are the types of addiction treatments?There are two main types of addiction treatments: inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient care is designed to help you safely go through withdrawal from a substance before addressing the thought patterns and behaviors that drive the addiction.1 Outpatient services can be similar, but are meant for people who don’t need to go through the additional step of withdrawal.Most programs, both inpatient and outpatient, follow an abstinence model, which means (with help) you quit using any and all substances. With that said, complete abstinence may not work for everyone, Michele Goldman, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist at Columbia Health and a media advisor for the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, tells SELF.That’s why some outpatient services follow a “harm reduction model”—a term you might hear people use in recovery circles. This style of treatment focuses on reducing substance use to a point in which it stops causing harm to yourself or others, but doesn’t eliminate substance use 100%, according to the National Harm Reduction Coalition.So, how do you know which is best for you? It comes down to the level of care you need to safely stop or reduce your substance use. Here’s a closer look at each type of addiction treatment:Inpatient treatmentThe highest level of addiction treatment is a medically managed inpatient unit, says Dr. Goldman. That’s official language for a program that provides medical professionals to monitor you round-the-clock as you go through withdrawal from prolonged use of a substance.Known as “detox,” this process can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms2—such as seizures, tremors, vomiting, fever, or even hallucinations–which is why medically managed inpatient units are necessary for some people, says Dr. Goldman.As these symptoms run their course, your doctor may recommend various medications to help make the process less brutal.3 These are based on the substance you’re withdrawing from, but range from things like methadone for opioid withdrawal (namely heroin) to benzodiazepines (commonly known as benzos) for alcohol withdrawal. If you’re in treatment for opioid, tobacco, or alcohol addiction, your doctor or medical provider may also prescribe medication for relapse prevention. Some of these medications basically stimulate the brain in a similar way to a person’s preferred substance to reduce the urge to use.4 Other medications are used in different ways, like to block the euphoric effects of certain drugs. Anytime medications are used, a medical professional will closely monitor how it’s going to ensure you’re on the right treatment path.

What Are Drug Withdrawal Symptoms and How Long Do They Last?

What Are Drug Withdrawal Symptoms and How Long Do They Last?

“The withdrawal period of opiates like heroin and oxycontin include a very intense one to three days where patients can have seizures, uncontrollable vomiting, diarrhea, and other extreme symptoms,” Dr. Hanson says. (There are medications and strategies available to help reduce the intensity of these symptoms as much as possible.) By day three to five, symptoms are less intense, but he says patients are typically tired and in a subdued state of being.“While patients may no longer be in the pain they endured the first one to three days, they may be barely coherent,” he explains. Then, within seven to eight days, this phase is over, and the psychological work can begin.HeroinAs noted above, heroin is an opiate drug that produces withdrawal symptoms as soon as 6 to 24 hours from the last use, with a peak around 24 to 48 hours. Complete withdrawal can last about five to 10 days but may take longer for some people.2BenzodiazepinesWithdrawal for short-acting benzodiazepines like oxazepam, lorazepam, and triazolam typically begins one to two days after the last dose. Long-acting benzodiazepines such as diazepam, chlordiazepoxide, flurazepam, and clorazepate take three to seven days for symptom onset.8 The overall withdrawal period can last one to two weeks, depending upon the amount of use and length of use. That said, Dr. Hanson points out that benzodiazepines withdrawal can admittedly be very difficult., Getting through it without a relapse not only requires a strategy for handling biochemical cravings, but also addressing any psychological aspects, like the condition the benzos were originally intended to treat. (More on this in a bit.)CocaineAcute symptoms in cocaine withdrawal generally last seven to 10 days as your body rids cocaine from your system. Symptoms may begin as early as 24 to 48 hours after last use.2Are there complications from withdrawal?Withdrawing from some substances once you’ve become dependent, like opioids, alcohol, and benzodiazepines, can result in dangerous, life-threatening symptoms, especially if you try to detox on your own.Serious symptoms like seizures, hallucinations, delirium, high blood pressure, and dehydration can all cause short and long-term complications, and in some cases, death. There are medically monitored detox programs and tapering protocols that can help reduce the risk of complications and improve recovery. But these can be hard to access for many people, with the reasons behind this lack of access ranging from stigma to cost and beyond.2Are there withdrawal treatments and medications?Withdrawal symptoms from drugs or alcohol are unpleasant, causing many people to continue their substance use. Feeling nervous or scared about this process is normal, but know that you are not alone. If you want help, several treatment options may be available to you, ranging from counseling to medications to medical detox.The gold standard for safely managing withdrawal symptoms is through medical supervision. Without medical supervision, Dr. Marcum says you may suffer from seizures or other life-threatening consequences. She also recommends counseling from mental health professionals and collaboration with psychiatry to treat co-occurring mental health disorders.Dr. Hanson agrees and adds that medical detox is just one part of the process—the other half addresses the emotional and psychological issues that led to the substance use disorders in the first place. “We have gotten very good at treating patients medically through detox, but appropriate treatment for drug and alcohol withdrawal also involves trauma resolution work, which looks at past traumas that are still impacting us now and creating the symptoms of substance abuse,” Dr. Hanson says. It’s important to note that trauma isn’t always the cause of substance use.  It can also occur from simple recreation use, experimentation, or an addiction to prescription pain medications after a procedure. 

Understanding the Different Types of Addiction, From Chemical to Behavioral

Understanding the Different Types of Addiction, From Chemical to Behavioral

Dr. Lira de la Rosa recommends working with both a psychiatrist and a therapist for the most effective recovery treatment. A psychiatrist can prescribe medications that help with withdrawal, cravings, anxiety, and depression if needed. A licensed counselor or psychologist specializing in substance use disorders can help address negative patterns of thought and behavior with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). A combination of those two treatments can help you understand your triggers, learn how to manage your triggers and cravings, and find healthier ways to cope while in recovery, says Dr. Lira de la Rosa.During the process, you may also need to address other parts of your life that have been neglected, including underlying medical conditions or mental health issues. Therapy may also help you to mend relationships that were impacted while using substances.Dr. Lira de la Rosa also points out that some people may not be ready to live a life of sobriety. In these situations, he says harm reduction strategies can be used to help people cut back on substance use and have a healthier relationship with substances.On another note, relapse is often a part of the recovery process. It doesn’t mean a person or their treatment has failed. It simply means their treatment plan needs to be adjusted or revisited.Perhaps the most important part of recovery is that the person has to want to get better. “Sustained motivation is the cornerstone to treatment,” Dr. Mou says, but the onus is not only on the person in treatment. The treatment team also has a responsibility to help keep the person motivated in their recovery journey, he says.What are the treatment options for behavioral addiction?Treatment for behavioral addiction is typically centered around therapy, but can also include medication. “You may benefit from individual therapy to address triggers and withdrawal symptoms, as well as learning new ways to engage in healthier behavior,” Dr. Lira de la Rosa says.Like chemical addiction, common treatments for a behavioral addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing. The goal is to change the patterns of thought and behavior and develop new coping skills.How to help yourself or a loved one during addiction recoveryIf you’re concerned about substance misuse or behavioral addiction, know that you are not alone. Finding support and practicing self-compassion can help you on your journey to recovery. Here are a few tips that can help you get started:Find a support personConfide in a family member, friend, or mentor who you trust. Forging a bond with a close contact can help you through difficult moments, but keep in mind that professional help may also be necessary.If you’re helping a loved one through addiction recovery, Dr. Lira de la Rosa says it’s also a good idea to seek support for yourself. “You may experience a range of emotions in this process, and having your own space to talk about your experiences can be beneficial,” he says. You can also then model positive behavior for your loved one.Reach out to a mental health professional specializing in substance use or behavioral addiction.Dr. Lira de la Rosa explains that mental health clinicians can provide a space for you to explore your concerns, your addiction history, and help you determine what treatment options are available for you. If you’re not sure where to start, reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It can help put you in touch with local treatment centers, support groups, and more. If you don’t have insurance, it can also direct you to the appropriate state-funded treatment programs.

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