There are so many things to love about the holiday season: the decorations, the gaily wrapped gifts, the songs, the traditions, the parties. Along with the parties, however, comes a binge of indulgence in sweets. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional treat, but we do tend to overdo it at this time of year.
If you have a painful throbbing in your head, you may be very uncomfortable but think it couldn’t be a migraine because it’s not debilitating. Or you don’t have the shimmering lights in your vision or nausea and vomiting that you’ve heard usually accompanies a migraine.
Regardless, you could still be suffering from a migraine and not know it. Or you could have an ordinary headache with several of the symptoms of a migraine. The symptoms of headaches and migraines can vary so much from person to person that it can sometimes be difficult even for doctors to tell the difference.
So why does it matter, then? Can’t you just pop a couple aspirin, slap on an ice pack and say you’ve got a painful headache? No, because the treatments are different for each, and sometimes a headache is more than that. That’s why your concierge doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter, Florida, want to explore the different types of headache, including migraine, and help you decide when to get seek medical attention.
A migraine is not technically a headache, but a neurological disorder that includes a constellation of symptoms, with a painful, long-lasting headache at the center. Its main symptom is a severe throbbing pain or pulsing sensation in the head, which feels like a very bad headache, usually on one side of the head, but in a third of migraine attacks, both sides are affected. It is often—but not always—preceded by what is known as an “aura,” strange tricks of vision that can encompass anything from a blind spot in the vision to flashing or shimmering lights to wavy or zigzagging lines. Migraines are also usually, but not always, associated with such symptoms as nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to lights and noises, and can also include a pins-and-needles sensation in the arms and legs or a weakness or numbness on one side of the face or body.
One or two days before the onset of a migraine, patients often experience subtle body signals (called “prodrome”) that can alert them to an upcoming migraine. These changes can include neck stiffness, constipation, increased thirst and urination, food cravings, frequent yawning, and mood swings from depression to euphoria. To complicate the issue even further, it’s possible to have many of the migraine symptoms, especially the aura, without the headache. The primary signature of a migraine, however, is the extreme incapacitation associated with the headache pain involved.
Other headache types
Just because a headache isn’t officially classified as a migraine doesn’t mean it can’t be painful or even somewhat debilitating. And there are several types:
• Tension headache, the most common, is usually felt around the head and scalp and the back of the head or neck. Often called “stress” headaches, they are further divided into episodic and chronic, depending on how often they occur, and can be uncomfortable but don’t normally restrict regular activities.
• Cluster headaches, most often experienced by men, are called that because they tend to occur in clusters or groups, sometimes several in a day over a period of weeks or months, then they disappear, often for years. Because they can be quite painful and occur on one side of the head, they are sometimes difficult to distinguish from migraines.
• Sinus headaches are frequently misdiagnosed, but in general, they must be accompanied by nasal congestion, watery eyes, and fever, due to the infection in the sinuses that causes them.
There are a number of other types of headaches, categorized by their causes, such as menstrual headaches, ice cream headaches, and caffeine headaches, among others. The most serious (i.e. dangerous) is the so-called “thunderclap” headache which occurs suddenly like a clap of thunder and causes extreme pain. This is a medical emergency that must be investigated immediately.
For common headaches, many people find relief with over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications, ice packs, and rest. Others swear by less conventional treatments such as caffeine, ginger, hot showers, acupuncture, or even massaging the temples with lavender or peppermint oil. It’s helpful to determine the cause of frequent headaches, so keeping a diary of symptoms can help pinpoint triggers.
Because symptoms and treatments of the different headache types overlap, if these typical home remedies don’t work, it’s best that you come and see us for an evaluation. There are numerous new prescription drugs available to treat migraines, as well as other more stubborn headaches.
Sometimes a headache isn’t “just a headache,” so if your headaches are debilitating, let us know. We can help.
The flu killed 80,000 Americans last year and was responsible for the hospitalization of another 960,000. Then there are those whose symptoms didn’t reach such drastic levels, but who spent many miserable days suffering the effects.
So our concierge family practice doctors in Jupiter, FL, at MD 2.0, were pleased to note that last month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the first time in 20 years approved a new drug designed to help alleviate the symptoms of the flu. Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil) is a single-dose oral prescription drug intended for patients 12 years of age and older who have been experiencing symptoms for no more than 48 hours.
The difference in Xofluza
Just in time for flu season, Xofluza joins other antiviral treatments currently available, including Tamiflu and Relenza. The difference between Xofluza and other antiviral drugs is in the way it’s administered. It is the only antiviral that can be taken as a single dose to be effective. Others must be taken over several days or inhaled as a powder. While Xofluza did not work any better in clinical trials than its competitors already on the market, it’s the convenience of the single oral dose that sets it apart. The most common reported side effects of Xofluza were diarrhea and bronchitis.
“With thousands of people getting the flu every year, and many people becoming seriously ill, having safe and effective treatment alternatives is critical,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., said in a statement. “This novel drug provides an important, additional treatment option.” Xofluza was expected to be available “within the next several weeks.”
“Xofluza is unique in that it acts to inhibit replication of the flu virus in the first place, at a step much earlier than the current medications available . . . which only block release of virus that has already been produced from a host cell,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City told CBS News.
Dr. Debra Birnkrant, director of the Division of Antiviral Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, hailed the addition of Xofluza to the arsenal of weapons against the flu.
“Having more treatment options that work in different ways to attack the virus is important because flu viruses can become resistant to antiviral drugs,” she said on the FDA’s website.
You still need a flu shot
While the antiviral medications, including Xofluza, can reduce symptoms and help them recede faster than a placebo, they are not an instant curative. Nor do they prevent the flu or prevent you passing it on to others. If you contract the flu, you will still have to endure several days of misery, and you will still be contagious while exhibiting symptoms. So it’s best not to catch it all all.
“[S]easonal flu vaccine is one of the most effective and safest ways to protect yourself, your family, and your community from the flu and serious flu-related complications,” Gottlieb said. “Yearly vaccination is the primary means of preventing and controlling flu outbreaks.”
We concur. Last month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report showing that less than 40 percent of adults in the U.S. received flu shots last winter, the lowest rate in seven years and probably one reason that last season’s flu outbreak was the deadliest since the 1970s. Of the 183 children who died last year, 80 percent had not been vaccinated.
You can help boost your immunity by exercising, eating healthfully, washing your hands often, and getting enough sleep, but there’s still no better way to prevent the flu, or lessening symptoms and its complications, than by receiving a flu shot.
“Yearly vaccination is the primary means of preventing and controlling flu outbreaks,” said Gottlieb.
And if you or your children do come down with the flu, contact us immediately. The sooner you receive Xofluza or other antiviral medications, the better they will work.
Your concierge family practice doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter, Florida, realize that to some people “exercise” is a chore. But study after study demonstrates the health benefits of regular movement, as well as the dangers of little-to-no exercise.
The danger of not exercising
Here’s another study that underscores the dangers of the sedentary lifestyle. Published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), this one found that a lack of regular exercise is as detrimental to health as smoking, diabetes, and heart disease.
“Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker,” Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told CNN. The senior author of the study, he called the results “extremely surprising.”
“We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this,” he added. “[Being unfit] should be treated almost as a disease that has a prescription, which is called exercise.”
Researchers investigated 122,007 former patients at Cleveland Clinic who were tested on a treadmill between January 1, 1991 and December 31, 2014. They found those with the lowest level of fitness, i.e., a sedentary lifestyle, had a risk of death almost 500 percent higher than those who were the most physically fit.
This is only the latest study to document the danger of the sedentary lifestyle. Here are just a few others:
- A Texas study published in January found that for people over 50, regular exercise reversed the effects of aging, including hardening of the arteries and less efficient heart muscle action.
- Another showed a 40 percent decrease in cancer deaths among those who were more active than their sedentary counterparts.
- In the famous Nurses’ Health Study, those who exercised for a half-hour or more a day halved their risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Another Texas study found that men who were considered physically active lowered their stroke risk by two-thirds.
There are many others, and they all reach similar conclusions: A lifestyle that includes little physical exercise is deadly.
Too late to start?
But what if you’re no longer in the so-called “prime of life”? It’s a little late to bother with exercise, isn’t it? The answer is a resounding no. One study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology tracked the progress of 33,000 Swedish men from 1998 to 2012 who began exercising at an average of age 60. They reduced their risk of heart failure by 21 percent.
The important thing to remember when starting an exercise routine later in life is to start slowly, don’t push yourself, and work your way up to maximum fitness level. You may never compete in the Olympics, but you’ll notice improvements in every area of your life.
Benefits of exercise
Whatever age you begin regular exercise, you’ll begin to notice the positive effects within days. According to the Mayo Clinic, here just 10 of the many benefits of regular aerobic exercise:
- Losing weight and keeping it off
- Increased stamina
- Warding off viral illnesses like colds and flu
- Reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer
- Control of chronic conditions including coronary artery disease
- Strengthening the heart muscle to slow the pulse, pump blood more efficiently, and improve blood flow to the entire body
- Boost the “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins or HDL) while lowering “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins or LDL) helping to reduce plaque buildup in the arteries
- Reducing tension, anxiety, and depression
- Helping maintain mobility and brain function in older age
- Living longer.
We cannot stress this enough: Regular exercise is vital to your overall health and well-being. If you’re tired of feeling tired and dealing with various aches and pains, pick an exercise and go for it. Just be sure to check with us first.
Last year, 80,000 Americans died from complications of the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The 2017-18 flu season death toll was the highest in nearly 40 years, and almost twice as high as what health experts would typically consider a “bad” flu season. It also lasted longer—from November to March—than any recent flu outbreak.
If the idea of consuming all the eggs, steak, butter, and whipped cream you want while still losing weight appeals to you, you may think you’ve found your heaven-on-earth in the popular “keto” diet. As with all unusual ways of dieting, it is often unsustainable over the long term. Which may be a good thing as this type of eating can sometimes lead to negative health consequences.
Some four million Americans consume probiotic supplements thinking they’ll improve their health. Claims for these supplements range from improved digestion and intestinal function to better-looking skin to boosting mood and relieving anxiety. With such wide-ranging health claims, it’s no wonder that consumption of probiotics has surged in recent years.
One of the unfortunate aspects of living in southern Florida is the near-constant exposure to high humidity and warmer temperatures. These conditions become even more pronounced following tropical storms and hurricanes, and unfortunately they are ideal breeding ground for mold.
Everyone wants that “magic elixir” that will help them live longer and healthier. So when the news and the Internet are full of the Next New Thing that promises to cure a host of illnesses and add years to your life, your concierge family doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter, Florida, typically receive questions from our patients about its efficacy.
Whenever a new study comes out on an old topic—in this case, the relative benefits or risks of egg consumption—your concierge family practice physicians at MD 2.0 in Jupiter, Florida, receive numerous questions from our patients about it. So we’d like to try to clear up the confusion regarding this kitchen staple.