Thursday, October 10, 2013
The characteristics of migraines

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Headache is a common presenting complaint. Many things can cause headaches so it is sometimes difficult to find a specific cause. One of the more common types of headaches is the migraine headache. Many people claim that they have migraine headaches however, that is not always true. There are certain characteristics of migraine headaches that do not occur with other headaches. These are the things that help make the diagnosis. One of the most important things to recognize is related to the fact that migraine headaches are hereditary. There is usually a family history. One of the parents is likely to have had migraine headaches. A second characteristic is the location. Migraine headaches are located in the front of the head. In addition, they are one sided. Therefore, if you are having migraine headaches, you should be able to point to one side of your forehead as the location of the pain. A third characteristic is that the type of pain is throbbing in nature. This is different than most other headaches. A majority of headaches give a steady type of pain. A fourth characteristic is that migraine headaches are frequently associated with abdominal symptoms. Sometimes, this can take the form of an upset stomach. At other times, it can be associated with vomiting. There are some individuals whose headaches will disappear once they vomit. A fifth characteristic is that they tend to recur over and over. There are some individuals who rarely have headaches. When they do have headaches, they tend to be of different types. They often are associated with other illnesses. Migraine headaches tend to occur repeatedly. They might actually occur in a predictable cycle. Some women will experience them at certain times of their menstrual cycle. A sixth characteristic is something called an aura. This is not present in all individuals with migraines. However, it does occur consistently in other migraine sufferers. An aura is a sensation that a headache is coming on. It might be in the form of seeing spots. It might be in the form of a certain smell. It might take other forms. In any case, it serves as a warning that the headache is coming on. There are some things that will make migraine headaches worse. For many people bright lights can do that. There are other things that will make migraine headaches better. Often going to sleep will result in improvement in the headache upon awakening. The treatment for migraine headache is sometimes simple. My migraine headaches respond to Tylenol. It is also sometimes complicated. Two of my daughters are on more complex migraine medicines. It is sometimes easier to make the diagnosis than it is to treat it. Migraine headaches are common. However, there are many people who claim to have migraine headaches when they do not. There is a pattern to migraine headaches and if someone fits that pattern, it makes the diagnosis easier.

Health Beat Seasonal flu shots offered at Mears Health Campus Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer seasonal flu shots to individuals 18 and older at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Mears Health Campus (300 Rawlins Dr., Seaford, Rehabilitation Services Building) on the following dates: Thursday, Oct. 10 - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17 - 8 a.m. to noon Thursday, Oct. 24 - 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31 - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is no charge for this year's flu shots. A donation of $10 per vaccination is appreciated. Pre-registration is not required.

CPR classes offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the Nanticoke Training Center on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children and infants and how to help an adult, child or infant who is choking and use of the AED. This classroom-based, video, and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends, and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency because of job responsibilities or regulatory requirements. Cost is $45. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.

Chronic disease workshops Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? People diagnosed with chronic diseases such as cancer, arthritis, heart disease or diabetes face an uphill battle to find the strength to manage their illness, curb their pain and have a positive outlook on life. Peninsula Home Care is partnering with MAC Incorporated (the Area's Agency on Aging) to provide the tools, resources and training to the community to help improve health and lower health care costs to those suffering from chronic illnesses. The two organizations are offering Chronic Disease Self-Management workshops in the community, free of charge. The six week long workshops focus on pain management, eating, exercise, medication use, emotional management, and communication with physicians and other health care providers. The next free Chronic Disease Self-Management Workshop will be held on Oct. 17-21 from 1 to 3 p.m., at MAC Incorporated in Salisbury. To register, call Peninsula Home Care at 410-543-7550. Call or visit for more information on dates, times and locations of classes in your area.

Septic regulations workshop DNREC's Ground Water Discharges Section will hold a free public workshop on Monday, Oct. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Georgetown Cheer Center, regarding proposed amendments to the state's septic regulations. For more information about the workshop, or for directions, contact Kathleen Saunders, DNREC Ground Water Discharges, 302-739-9948.

Free balance screenings offered Suffering from dizziness or loss of balance? In honor of National PT Month, Seaford Physical Therapy of Aquacare will offer free screenings during the month of October to see if you would benefit from physical therapy.

Licensed physical therapists will provide an assessment of your balance and give tips on strategies to improve your balance. Vertigo is the sensation of spinning. Even when being still, you may feel like you are moving, or that the room is moving around you. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, sweating, and abnormal eye movements. Physical therapy for balance, vertigo, or dizziness is covered by most insurances. For more information or to schedule a free screening, call 536-1774.

Easter Seals walk on Oct. 13 Easter Seals Delaware & Maryland's Eastern Shore invites you to the first annual "Walk With Me Delmarva" event on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 3 p.m., at Baywood Greens, Long Neck. The walk will unite hundreds of participants in lower Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore to raise funds for Easter Seals services in order to impact the lives of local individuals and families living with disabilities. Register or donate to an Easter Seals family ambassador team at or by contacting Linda Forte at 302-253-1100, ext. 1121 or

DBCC plans Monster Miles event The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC) will hold their Fourth Annual "Monster Miles for a Cause" Walk at Dover International Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 19. The event is a unique opportunity for supporters of local charities to walk on the NASCAR track. Attendees are encouraged to walk in honor or memory of someone in their life that has been impacted by breast cancer. The DBCC walk begins at noon with registration opening at 10 am. The event will have vendors, food and team prizes. Visit to register or to learn more about sponsorship opportunities. The event is rain or shine and costs $25 per person or $30 on event day. Children 10 and under can walk for free with an adult. Those who cannot attend but would still like to support DBCC can register online as "Sleepwalkers." The 2012 event raised over $16,000 for DBCC's local programs. For more information, contact Michelle Marshall, event coordinator, at 302-593-9924 or

Symposia at Rehoboth Beach The Delaware Chapter of the Internal Medicine Doctors for Adults invites physicians from across the nation to the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel in Rehoboth Beach for the American College of Physicians 15th Annual Lower Shore Symposia to be held Saturday, Oct. 26. Two members of the Beebe Medical staff are coordinating the event. They are: Dr. Bhaskar Palekar, FACP, and Dr. Mansour Saberi, MACP, Governor Emeritus of the ACP Delaware Chapter. The all-day symposia will allow physicians to learn about recent medical advances and to discuss local and national issues that affect the practice and teaching of internal medicine. Speakers are coming from The Baylor College of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Einstein Healthcare Network and Tufts University. For more information and to register, call Dr. Saberi at 302-645-2244.

BIAD plans annual fundraiser To help promote greater public awareness of the Brain Injury Association of Delaware's (BIAD) advocacy, support, and prevention programs, the organization has set Nov. 2, as the date for its annual "Embellish Your Melon" fundraiser. The event will be capped by a fun-filled, hat-contest-themed dinner-dance, grand prize awards, sponsor acknowledgements and silent auction. The event will take place from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Harry's Savoy Ballroom, 2020 Naamans Rd., Wilmington. Advance registration at is $49 per person ($59 at the door) and includes the dinner-dance, contest entry and silent auction admission. Businesses and individuals who wish to participate in the event are encouraged to contact BIAD (by leaving a return-call phone message at 800-411-0505) to reserve sponsorship package rates and arrangements.

Alzheimer's Caregiver Workshop Cadia at Renaissance in Millsboro will host an Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Workshop on Wednesday, Oct. 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The free workshop will include: "The Basics" presented by Dr. Lawrence Kemp, "Legal and Financial Issues" presented by Amber B. Woodland, Esq., "Behaviors and Communication" presented by Ruth Pryor, geriatric social worker, and the Delaware Hospice Transitions Program presented by Al Morris. Lunch will be provided by Renaissance and pre-registration is required by Oct. 17. For more information, or to register, call Jamie Magee, Sussex County program coordinator, at 854-9788 or 800-272-3900.

Therapist, exercise training course The Parkinson Education and Support Group of Sussex County is sponsoring a 4-day Therapist and Exercise Class Leader program between October 26 and October 29. The program will be taught by Becky Farley, co-founder of the BIG Therapy program for people with Parkinson's, and more recently, the founder of the Parkinson's Wellness Program. Classes will be taught at the Stockley Center on Rt. 113 between Georgetown and Millsboro. The therapist class will be taught on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 26 and 27, and can accommodate 40 students. The Exercise Class Leader class will be taught on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 28 and 29, and can accommodate 30 students. Therapists, therapist assistants and potential exercise class leaders from all over Delmarva are invited to attend. The 4-day program will conclude with a presentation by Farley intended for people with Parkinson's. The presentation is free and will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29. Anyone on the Delmarva Peninsula with Parkinson's, as well as their family and friends, are invited to hear Farley talk about how her therapy and exercise programs can have a positive impact on the lives of people with Parkinson's. For more information or to register for the course, visit or call Dennis Leebel at 302-644-3465. Additional information on Parkinson's Wellness Recovery can be found at Farley's website, www.pwr4life.orgsun/.