What is it?
Headache is a common symptom that may result from a number of different problems or illnesses. Headaches are classified as either primary or secondary. Primary headaches are those that occur without appearing to be caused by another illness, such as tension headaches or migraines. Secondary headaches can result from a number of conditions. These may range from life threatening brain tumors, strokes, and meningitis to less serious problems, such as caffeine or pain medication withdrawals.
What causes it?
There are 3 types of headaches:
[MIGRAINE] A throbbing headache that usually originates in the front or side of the head. Its cause is really not known; however, a number of triggers have been identified, such as stress, sleep disturbances, hormones, bridge or flickering lights, certain odors, cigarette smoke, alcohol, aged cheese, chocolate, monosodium glutamate, nitrites, aspartame, and caffeine.
[PSEUDOTUMOR CEREBRI] is a condition due to excess spinal fluid pressure; it is most common in people who gain weight and become obese, especially women. The cause is unknown.
[MUSCLE TENSION HEADACHES] often appear to be related to posture problems that occur in those with large abdomens or breasts and improve with treatment for the neck muscles involved. Muscle tension or traction headaches from excess weight may take longer to resolve and be related to total weight loss.
What role might cytokines play?
Migraine is due to swelling and inflammation of brain blood vessels. This swelling and inflammation cause irritation of brain nerve fibers which then convey pain across the head and face. The swelling and inflammation are mediated by proteins in the cytokine class. As in other illness, genetic factors play a role. It is possible the inflammatory and swelling related cytokines generated from fat cells, liver, and intestine contribute to these genetic migraine trigger in obesity.
Why pseudotumor respond to MNT is also unknown. Hormones and cytokine proteins control spinal fluid regulation in the brain. Cytokines from fat tissue may influence formation or removal of spinal fluid. Only a spinal puncture can diagnose psuedotumor. If headache responds to the PrescriptFit MNT Plan, pseudotumor should be considered likely, even without a spinal puncture.
Since pseudotumor predominately affects women, hormones obviously play a role. Exactly how fat-produced cytokines and hormones interplay to prevent removal of spinal fluid is unknown. However, it is likely that cytokines mediate the process. Why? Because headache improves and pressure measures from spinal puncture register decreases in days or week after starting the PrescriptFit Plan, long before substantial weight loss occurs.
Muscle tension headaches will only improve at the rate that the mechanical strain that causes it improves. Weight loss and decreased inflammation will help alleviate mechanical strain sooner. Headaches that improve rapidly on the Plan are probably due to another cause.
What results could I expect with MNT?
Clinical experience with MNT and headache varies with the cause. Pseudotumor responds within days or weeks but requires a spinal puncture for confirmation. Migraine may respond quickly; however, it has many triggers and a naturally variable course. Therefore, long-term response can be gauged only by recording headache scores on the Disease/Symptom Questionnaire (Workbook Calendar) over time (e.g., monthly for at least a year). Muscle tension headaches should respond based on total weight loss.