Posts tagged with "headaches"

Kaelen Felix Illustrates a Dental Health Article for 360 MAGAZINE

COVID Stress x Teeth

By Justin Lyons

Coronavirus obviously affects all-around health, but it’s also taking a toll on mental health.

With a pandemic, a recession, social injustice and a majorly impactful presidential election coming in just over a month, who isn’t stressed and tense?

Dr. Cathy Hung says headaches, jaw pain or severe discomfort near the ears can all be connected to TMJ disorders. These symptoms can be brought upon by stress and tension at a time during which either of those would be easily forgiven, if not already expected.

TMJ, or the temporomandibular joint, is the joint connecting the jaw to the skull. There is one on each side of the head, and they’re used extensively for everything we open our jaws for. They’re incredibly important, but that importance can make them severe sources of pain when something goes wrong.

Hung, oral surgeon and author of Pulling Wisdom: Filling Gaps of Cross-Cultural Communication for Healthcare Providers, said there are many causes of TMJ disorders, but stress is one of the biggest.

“I have seen patients with TMJ due to stress from the pandemic. When people are tense, they often clench or grind their teeth, tightening their jaw muscles and putting stress on the TM joints. Sometimes severe clenching also can lead to a cracked tooth or cracked dental crown,” Hung said.

She also offers some tips for those with TMJ disorder-causing habits.

Teeth grinding: Known as bruxism, this can be grinding, gnashing or clenching of teeth. Hung said these can all happen unconsciously while awake or even while asleep. Grinding can lead to TMJ, headaches and damage to teeth, and the best treatments are stress relievers or doctor-prescribed relaxants. Dentists and oral surgeons can also fit teeth grinders for a protective mouthpiece to wear while sleeping.

Tension headaches: Hung said tension headaches feel like a band wrapped around the temples. These can come from clenching, but they can also be associated with pain in the jaw. Hung says over-the-counter medication can help, but it isn’t fail-proof. If they don’t work, you should schedule a visit with a medical professional.

Other TMJ symptoms: Hung says there are a few ways to tell if a person is suffering from a TMJ disorder.

“You may have a misaligned bite, or pain and a clicking or grating noise when you open your mouth,” Hung said. “Or, you may have trouble opening your mouth wide.”

Again, stress relief and mouth guards can help in these scenarios. Physical therapy can also help. Hung says surgery can be needed in the most severe cases.

It’s a stressful time in the world, but Hung offers some hope to those who have acquired TMJ disorders through stress.

“Certainly, treatment can take time to be effective,” Hung said. “But you’ll be glad to know that problems associated with TMJ disorder are more easily diagnosed and treated than they were in the past.”

For more information or to contact Dr. Cathy Hung, you can click right here.

Navigating Healthcare

Navigating our healthcare system can be challenging, especially when you are not feeling well.  One of the biggest questions that patients face is deciding whether their symptoms warrant a trip to a doctor’s office, urgent care clinic, or the emergency room.

For most health problems, your primary care doctor—usually a family doctor, internist, or pediatrician—is often in the best person to provide the first line of advice for health concerns.  These primary care physicians are equipped to handle most chronic health problems and minor complaints. Examples of conditions that can be managed by your primary care physician include muscle strains/sprains, joint and back pain, coughs and cold symptoms, minor burns and injuries, headaches, and stomach and intestinal problems (as long as the patient can drink fluids normally).

Many primary care physicians are able to perform procedures like joint injections and drainage of abscesses, dress wounds, and provide referrals to the right specialist if needed.  Most primary care offices can order blood tests, and many can perform immediate rapid tests for pregnancy, urine infections, strep throat, and influenza. Some even offer x-rays on-site.  

An advantage to seeing a primary care physician is that your regular doctor usually knows you and your medical problems best and is able to provide follow-up for your medical conditions.  If you’re having a hard time finding a primary care physician, you can ask your friends or family for recommendations, check with your insurance company to see who is in network, or search for your area on this physician mapper.  

Urgent care clinics include walk-in clinics which may be associated with a retail pharmacy or hospital system. They are most often staffed with nurse practitioners and physician assistants which means that you are unlikely to see a physician. Examples of complaints that can be managed by an urgent care clinic include straightforward conditions like colds, influenza, minor sprains/strains, minor skin cuts, and minor burns (not to hands/feet/genitals/face). Urgent care facilities often have access to an x-ray machine and can diagnosis and splint (but not cast) a fracture.  They may also have access to some of the more common blood tests. An advantage of urgent care is that they are often open on weekends and after hours when your primary care physician may not be available.

The emergency department (ED) should be reserved for true emergencies. Examples of

complaints that should be seen in the ED include chest pain, shortness of breath, stroke symptoms such as difficulty speaking or weakness on one side of the body, fractures where there is bone outside of the skin, fainting, severe headache, and inability to keep down liquids. EDs are always open but can be the most expensive option when it is not a true emergency. When you go to the ED, you may see a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant.  It’s important to be aware that not all EDs have physicians working on-site. When you or your loved one in sick, you should ask the credentials of the clinicians who are taking care of you and know that it is okay to ask to be seen by a physician.

Rebekah Bernard MD is a Family Physician and the president of Physicians for Patient Protection.

Vaughn Lowery, Dr. Molly Rossknecht, WeatherX, 360 MAGAZINE

Common Types of Headaches & Relief Options

Almost everyone, at some point, has experienced some form of headache. While most will run their course and an individual can return to normal functioning, some headache types are quite disabling and cause disruption to one’s life. This article will focus on some of the most common headache types including sinus, weather-related, and migraine. Each type will be described and treatment options discussed. Keep in mind that an individual can have more than one type of headache (I like to say “dogs can have ticks and fleas!”).


Sinus Headaches


Sinus headaches are often migraine headaches with associated sinus symptoms. Sinus headaches are only considered “true” sinus headaches in the presence of a sinus infection characterized by fever, pressure/pain around the cheeks or forehead, purulent phlegm, congestion, and response to an antibiotic. By definition, a true sinus headache should resolve by completion of the antibiotics. Patients might also find relief from nasal decongestants, saline nasal sprays, and antihistamines. Acute and chronic sinusitis infections are often managed by Otolaryngologists (Ear, Nose and Throat physicians or ENT).

Studies have been done showing that sinus symptoms including facial pain, nasal and sinus congestion, and pain with leaning forward are most often migraine attacks. If a disabling headache, nausea, and sensitivity to light are present in addition to the sinus symptoms, then the diagnosis of a migraine headache is likely. This type of headache should respond to migraine specific medication like a triptan. In fact, the triptan (like sumatriptan) should help the sinus symptoms as well as the headache to go away.

Weather-Related Headaches


A weather-related headache is usually a migraine headache triggered by weather changes, specifically drops in barometric pressure but also temperature changes, high humidity, stormy weather, and extremely dry conditions. This affects the pressure in the external environment, including the external ear canal. A change in barometric pressure of as little as .20 millibars impacts the pressure in the ear canal and can trigger migraines.

How can this be treated? An example of a safe treatment approach for weather-induced headaches is the use of WeatherX, an ear pressure device that can be placed in the ear canal to minimize the change in barometric pressure between the external environment versus the inner pressure in an individual’s inner ear, sinuses, and Eustachian tube. WeatherX looks like a small set of ear plugs (drug & latex free) and is designed to control the rate of barometric pressure changes in the ear canal adjacent to the ear drum (tympanic membrane). This device is best used in conjunction with the free weather app (WeatherX) that can alert an individual about a predicted drop in barometric pressure. To learn more, an individual can go to www.weatherx.com

Migraines


Migraines are characterized by disabling attacks often including throbbing/pulsating pain, nausea, sensitivity to light, and the desire to be in a dark quiet room. Migraine is the 3rd most prevalent illness in the world. Common triggers include changes in sleep patterns, skipping meals, dehydration, weather changes/barometric pressure changes/altitude changes (including airplane travel), exercise, and stress. Also strong smells (perfumes, detergents), bright lights, smoke/pollution, motion sickness (car, train, boat), and changes in hormone levels that commonly occur during pregnancy, menstruation, menopause, hormone replacement therapy, and oral contraceptives. There are many things in our diet that can exacerbate or trigger migraines- alcohol, aged cheeses, nitrates, others.

With my patients, I try to address as many triggers as possible and that means taking a holistic approach. The category of medication that can be very helpful for acute treatment of migraine is triptans. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) and anti-nausea medications are usually in the discussion as having a migraine “toolbox combination” can be most beneficial to abort their headache. If my patient’s trigger is lack of sleep or diet/hydration issue, we address that. In the case of weather/barometric pressure triggers, I recommend trying WeatherX earplugs. Using the WeatherX app, my patient is alerted to a significant drop in barometric pressure change thus the possibility of using the device to prevent the headache altogether.

In summary, these are just several types of common headaches but medical research and development has led to many safe, non-invasive treatment approaches. Correct diagnosis of headache type is critical to lead to effective treatment.

About Dr. Molly Rossknecht


Dr. Molly Rossknecht, Medical Advisor to WeatherX, is a neurologist who focuses on holistic and drug-free remedies in finding patients headache relief at the OC Migraine & Headache Center in California. Originally from South Florida, Dr. Rossknecht attended Florida Atlantic University and graduated with a BS in Biology and MS in Biomedical Science. She completed the dual degree DO/MPH program at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Rossknecht completed her internship and neurology residency at Garden City Hospital in Michigan, a program through the Statewide Campus System of Michigan State University. She is a proud fellow of the Headache Medicine program at the University of Michigan, directed by Wade Cooper, DO.