JRA.... Journal of a Radical Arthritis Chick

Here I give advice, speak of my experiences and give information to those who want to better understand Rheumatoid Arthritis. I am NOT a medical professional, and you should always seek advice from a doctor.

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Location: MA, United States

Hello everyone! I am 28 years old and was diagnosed with JRA (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis) when I was just 3 years old. I've had my battles with this disease over the years, and have decided to create a blog. I want to share my stories and adivce with other RA chicks, or anyone interested, to raise awareness and get insight from others. Feel free to comment/question me about anything. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh head, why do you cause me so much pain?

I dedicate this blog to anyone who has suffered from severe headaches/migraines.  I personally don't suffer from headaches, just every once in a great while, I'll get a bad migraine.  I know a few people who have such bad headaches, even the medicines don't seem to work well.  I have done some research into different tactics to help headaches.  I hope this helps some find relief. 

Note: I am not a doctor, this blog is a general guide and is not intended to replace professional medical advice.

1. Painkillers:  You may want to think twice before taking painkillers like aspirin, or Tylenol.  After looking into research into why, I found two main reasons why.  (Both of these statements were not written by me, I found them on them an informational website)
     A. Rebound headaches can occur in people who take these medications or others more than 10 times per week,and especially if the person takes the maximum recommended dose (or more) each time they take the drug.  It is very harmful to overdose. If your problems get worse contact a doctor immediately. As the body develops a tolerance to the medication, headaches begin to worsen and become more frequent, resulting in a cycle of increasing dosages and more frequent medication use.
    B. All drugs, including these commonly used OTC medications, have potential side effects, and frequently taking these drugs increases the risk of life-threatening side effects. Some of these side effects, such as Reyes Syndrome, a potentially fatal disorder which occurs in children who have taken aspirin, can occur after just one dose. That is why in most countries aspirin is contra-indicated in children under 16 years old. Paracetamol is generally a safe drug and usually will cause liver damage only if you exceed the maximum stated dose which is 4g/daily in 4 divided doses. Liver damage from acetaminophen may develop over long periods of time.

2. Relax.  Even if the headache isn't brought on by stress, relaxing can help.  Meditation like Yoga, can really help speed up your road to recovery.

3. Take a nap.  Sleep almost always helps alleviate a headache, even if it's just a quick cat-nap.  During rest, your body relaxes and recuperates.  Sleep is one of the best medicines for you.

4. Drink some water.  Dehydration is a common cause for headaches.  Even if you don't feel thirsty, you could still be dehydrated.  Make sure you're drinking your daily dose of 8 glasses of 8oz of water.  It makes a big difference.

5. Drink a cup of coffee or herbal tea.  Caffeine constricts the blood vessels, which can lessen the head pain.  Be careful though, because too much caffeine may lead to a migraine.  That's why it's usually a better idea to go for an herbal tea, like a green tea.  If taken in conjunction with a painkiller, caffeine can also speed up the medicine's effect, and as a result some painkillers include caffeine. Alternately, you can drink cola.
If you're a heavy caffeine or soda drinker, you may experience headaches as part of caffeine withdrawal. A jolt of caffeine will usually help, but in the long run, it's best to break your addiction. 

6. Massage.  Having you, or someone else, massage your temples, neck and shoulders, can help eliminate tension in the head.  If you can afford it, having a professional massage done would help.

7. Reflexology. Reflexology is used as a treatment for all sorts of ailments, and clinical studies seem to confirm its effectiveness for some, including headaches. Use the thumb and index finger of one hand to apply pressure to the fleshy area between the thumb and index finger of the other hand. Hold this for a minute or two. This doesn't seem to work for everyone, but for some people, this provides immediate relief. The relief may be temporary, or you may get rid of your headache entirely.

8. Aromatherapy.  It can be very relaxing and has been used for centuries for helping with stress and headaches.  Using in conjunction with meditation and yoga, can also be very rewarding.

9. Ice or Heat.  Depending on the person, it has been sworn by some that either of these can work.  Some claim an ice pack on the back of the neck, a heat pack applied to the head or a hot shower, can help ease the tension in the head.

10. Contact your doctor.  If none of these methods work, and the headaches have gone on for weeks, it is time to see the doctor.  Some people suffer from chronic headaches, and some more heavy duty medicines may be in order.

Below is a list of herbs and foods that have been shown to help eliminate headaches.
-Try mixing some Pepperoncinni Juice with some Tabasco sauce. (WARNING: Pepperoncinni is a very spicy food, so if you don't like spicy stuff, I'd stay away)
-Peppermint: For hundreds of years peppermint has been used as a headache remedy. From tea to extract, there are lots of ways to enjoy peppermint. Be warned that peppermint is not the thing to take if you have heartburn or similar stomach acid problems.
-Passionflower is a calming herb. Taken as a tea before bed, it can help you sleep. At least one clinic trial has found it to lower anxiety. It is also believed to have anti-inflammatory and pain killing properties. Great for migraine!
-Ginko: The leaf of the ginko tree is an extremely popular herb for headache, but the medical evidence is still hotly disputed. Ginko is said to improve the flow of blood and get more oxygen to the brain, hence not only relieving headache but improving memory and alertness as well. There are some nice teas sold with ginko and peppermint, so why not give it a try? Note that Ginko is one of those herbs that can cause side effects when taken with headache medications, including aspirin and lithium.
-Pepper: Yes, that's right – the pepper. Many peppers have an ingredient called capsaicin, which among other things seems to raise the pain threshold. It's gained attention in the medical world in recent years especially for its treatment of cluster headaches, and it's often given in the form of a nasal spray.
-White willow bark is an especially popular herb for headache because it works much like an aspirin, relieving your headache pain and causing the inflammation to go down. Like any painkiller, it should not be taken long term. Once again, be very careful about taking willow with other painkillers and medications - check with your doctor!


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