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A migraine isn't just a headache, it is a neurological disease. Affecting one in five women, one in twenty men, and one in twenty children, it's a debilitating, complex, and chronic condition that manifests in a combination of symptoms that can include excruciating head pain as well as other distinctive physical and emotional effects. Yet it is also a disease that you can improve and manage, as Dr. Carolyn Bernstein has discovered in her 17 years as a practicing neurologist.
Dr. Bernstein explains why migraines happen, why they are misdiagnosed, and why so few people get the right treatment for them. She reveals the latest research that shows that Migraine Brains share a hypersensitivity to stimuli and are more likely to experience a cascade of neurological reactions that cause common migraine symptoms. This breakthrough medical knowledge makes treatment and recovery possible with new migraine-specific drugs as well as with complementary treatments such as yoga, biofeedback and exercise.
The Migraine Brain will equip you with the information you need to understand migraines and to help your family and colleagues understand that a migraine isn't just a headache: it's a serious, yet treatable, condition.
Bernstein, a neurologist who suffered her first migraines in her 20s, teaches at Harvard Medical School and is on staff at the Cambridge Health Alliance, where she founded the Women's Headache Center. With journalist McArdle, she presents a clear and comprehensive analysis of the migraine brain. Noting that there are about 30 million migraine sufferers in the U.S., Bernstein reveals that migraine is a complex neurological disease that affects the central nervous system. A severe headache is just one of its symptoms: others may be nausea, vomiting, visual changes or sensitivity to light or sound: the authors help readers identify the triggers that can bring on an attack (such as stress, insufficient sleep, menstrual periods or a host of other factors). Bernstein then helps the "migraineur" develop a personalized plan to "prevent, abort, or rescue." The authors include research on the new "triptan" meds, which can interrupt the neurochemical reaction of an attack and halt a migraine in its tracks, as well as info on preventive medications (i.e., beta-blockers and antidepressants) and such alternative methods as biofeedback and acupuncture. Bernstein approaches the reader as she might patients "creatively, scientifically and sympathetically" offering a range of tactics and treatments to help migraine sufferers control and mitigate their pain.