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Migraines and Stress: Oct Event Recap

Alicia Pyle and Sheila Walker (with her Ninja) at the lecture

We had a nice turnout for the lecture, given that it was the night before Halloween. This is probably because migraines are such a common problem. Ninety percent of headaches are a form of migraine, but only 20% are properly diagnosed.

Dr. Kachmann began the lecture by explaining the science behind what migraines are and what causes them. It all comes down to a burst of serotonin from the brain stem. Serotonin usually makes us feel good, but it also dilates the vessels in the brain and can lead to painful irritation--that's the headache you feel. Triptans, the main class of drugs used to treat migraine, are a serotonin agonist, meaning they modulate the levels of the neurotransmitter in the brain. The other useful drug is Toradol, an anti-inflammatory.

Migraines usually go through three stages:

1. Prodrome:

mood changes, fatigue, auras, speech problems

2. Migraine

usually one-sided, intense headache, nausea, vomiting

3. Postdrome

this is the zombie-like stage that follows the headache, usually including mild

depression (though the relief of being headache-free tends to cancel it out).

Now to the good part--how to prevent migraine. Dr. Kachmann laid out 20 steps to avoid the problem. Here I'll go into the first ten.

1. Exercise regularly

2. Get 7-9 hours of good sleep every night

3. Remove dietary triggers (this will involve some experimentation to identify what causes the headaches)

4. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day

5. Practice good stress management

6. Form and maintain strong social bonds with family and friends

7. Find your source of spiritual fulfillment, whether in church, in nature, or wherever else best suits you

8. Listen to music

9. Experiment with supplements (Magnesium 400mg, Q-10, Riboflavin)

10. Find the preventative medicines that work best for you.

One of the main ideas Dr. Kachmann discussed (with the help of my wonderful girlfriend Alicia Pyle, who he's been helping deal with her own migraines) is that migraines aren't about any one cause or trigger; rather, they occur when multiple triggers are pulled, pushing you over a threshold. For Alicia, if it's the wrong time of the month (with the attendant hormones), and she has lots of stress, eats high-sugar foods, and drinks red wine, that mix almost always leads to a migraine.

Finally, once again we raffled off a Ninja blender, courtesy of Sheila Walker of 3 Rivers Pharmacy (where Dr. Kachmann gives free consultations Friday mornings). And we were even treated to a song by Alicia after she shared her story.

Next month's lecture will be on the gut biome and how it affects your overall health. Sign up for the newsletter to make sure you get details sometime next week.

And thanks again to all who attended!


Alicia's improvised song about migraines.


You can see Dr. Kachmann's Access TV Shows Mondays at 6:30 pm or Wednesdays at 6:00 pm on Comcast channel 57. 

You can hear him on the radio at 95.7 WELT on Tuesdays at 12:00 pm and Thursdays at 8:00 am.

You can attend one of his monthly evening lectures at the Kachmann Auditorium in Lutheran Hospital (check Facebook for event details).

Or you can visit him after 9:00 am on Fridays at Three Rivers Pharmacy on North Anthony, where he gives free consultations.

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