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Hormone changes can jump-start migraines



DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My daughter, who is 41, has been getting really bad migraine headaches just before her periods. Is it due to menopause? — V.M.

ANSWER: Her headaches are not due to menopause. They come from her menstrual cycle, and they’re called menstrual migraines. A migraine sufferer often can identify things that give rise to a headache — foods, alcohol, physical exertion, too little sleep, too much sleep, hunger, bright lights and loud noise. For quite a few women, menstrual periods trigger the headache. The sudden drop in the female hormone estrogen that takes place at the time of a menstrual period precipitates headaches in these women.

Your daughter can take medicine prior to her anticipated menstrual period to prevent the headache. Naprosyn or one of the many other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, taken two days before the period begins, often can avert menstrual migraines. They should be taken for as long as the headache has lasted in the past.

Another approach is birth-control pills. The ones that stop periods for six months to a year are particularly useful. Seasonale and Lybrel are two such preparations.

Most migraine sufferers are aware of the triptan drugs — medicines that have had a huge impact on migraine treatment. There are seven such drugs, and I won’t mention them all. Maxalt and Relpax are two of these drugs. The triptans should be used as the antiinflammatory drugs are used — two days before onset of periods and continued for the length of the usual migraine.

The headache booklet describes the common kinds of headaches and their treatment. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 901W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My 21-year-old grandson has weighed 130 pounds for the past six years in spite of drinking protein shakes, taking weight-gain pills and eating rich, calorie-laden foods. He is 6 feet 1 inch tall. Why can’t he gain weight? His self-esteem is zero because of his appearance. He loves to swim but is ashamed to appear in bathing trunks.

A doctor told him to live with it. Is that the answer? Any help you can give will be appreciated. — D.T.

ANSWER: Your grandson isn’t on the lean side. He is truly skinny. If this isn’t a family trait, it needs to be looked into more seriously.

Malabsorption syndromes should be considered. These are illnesses where nutrients cannot pass through the intestinal wall into the body. Celiac disease is an example. There are many more. Granted, most of these illnesses have other symptoms but, at times, those other symptoms can be so mild that they’re ignored.

Trouble with endocrine glands is another possibility. The thyroid gland, the adrenal glands, the testes and the ovaries have important roles in growth and development.

Genetic illnesses constitute a group of disorders that can manifest with nutritional signs.

I have many pat answers on how to gain weight. Your grandson needs more than pat answers.

Readers may write Dr. Donohue at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

©2009 North America Synd.

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