Migraine Headache FAQs Glossary of Terms

The following are health and medical definitions of terms that appear in the Migraine Headache FAQs article.

Abnormal: Outside the expected norm, or uncharacteristic of a particular patient.

Abortive: Tending to cut short the course of a disease, as in abortive polio (polio cut sh...

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Acetaminophen: A nonaspirin pain reliever or analgesic. Acetaminophen may be given alone t...

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Acupuncture: The practice of inserting needles into the body to reduce pain or induce anes...

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Amitriptyline: An antidepressant medication. In some patients with depression, abnormal l...

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Antidepressants: Anything, and especially a drug, used to prevent or treat depression.

Antihistamines: Drugs that combat the histamine released during an allergic reaction by bl...

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Anxiety: A feeling of apprehension and fear, characterized by physical symptoms such as pa...

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Arthritis: Inflammation of a joint. When joints are inflamed they can develop stiffness, w...

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Aspirin: Once the Bayer trademark for acetylsalicylic acid, now the common name for this a...

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Ataxia: Poor coordination and unsteadiness due to the brain's failure to regulate the body...

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Aura: A sensation perceived by a patient that precedes a condition affecting the brain. An...

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Biofeedback: A method of treatment that uses a monitor to measure patients' physiologic in...

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Birth control: Birth control is the use of any practices, methods, or devices to prevent p...

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Blind: 1. Unable to see. Without part or all of the sense of sight.
2....

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Blood pressure: The blood pressure is the pressure of the blood within the arteries. It is...

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Brain: The portion of the central nervous system that is located within the skull. It func...

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Brainstem: The lowest part of the brain which merges with the spinal cord and provides the...

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Caffeine: A stimulant compound found naturally in coffee, tea, cocoa (chocolate), and kola...

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Calcium: A mineral found mainly in the hard part of bones, where it is stored. Calcium is ...

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Cerebrum: The largest part of the brain. It is divided into two hemispheres, or halves.

Chiropractic: A system of diagnosis and treatment based on the concept that the nervous sy...

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Chronic: In medicine, lasting a long time. A chronic condition is one that lasts 3 months ...

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Cluster: In epidemiology, an aggregation of cases of a disease or another health-related c...

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Compress: Cloth or another material applied under pressure to an area of the skin and held...

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Consultant: An individual to whom one refers for expert advice or services. The use of con...

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Contraction: The tightening and shortening of a muscle.

Depression: An illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and that affects the way...

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Diagnosis: 1 The nature of a disease; the identification of an illness. 2 A ...

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Diplopia: A condition in which a single object appears as two objects. Also known as doubl...

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Dopamine: An important neurotransmitter (messenger) in the brain.

Dura: The outermost, toughest, and most fibrous of the three membranes (meninges) covering...

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Elavil: See: Amitriptyline.

Emergency department: The department of a hospital responsible for the provision of medica...

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Estrogen: A female steroid hormone that is produced by the ovaries and, in lesser amounts,...

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Family history: The family structure and relationships within the family, including inform...

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Fatigue: A condition characterized by a lessened capacity for work and reduced efficiency ...

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Fever: Although a fever technically is any body temperature above the normal of 98.6 degr...

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Glutamate: A form of glutamic acid. See: Glutamic acid.

Headache: A pain in the head with the pain being above the eyes or the ears, behind the he...

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Heart: The muscle that pumps blood received from veins into arteries throughout the body. ...

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Heart rate: The number of heartbeats per unit of time, usually per minute. The heart rate ...

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Herbal: 1. An adjective, referring to herbs, as in an herbal tea.
2. A...

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High blood pressure: A repeatedly elevated blood pressure exceeding 140 over 90 mmHg. Chro...

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Histamine: A substance that plays a major role in many allergic reactions, dilating blood ...

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Histamine cephalalgia: A distinctive syndrome of headaches, also known as cluster head...

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Horner syndrome: A condition resulting from interruption of the sympathetic nerve pathways...

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Ibuprofen: A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is commonly used to treat pa...

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Imitrex: Brand name for sumatriptan, a triptan drug for the treatment of migraine.

Infection: The invasion and multiplication of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, an...

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Injury: Harm or hurt. To harm, hurt, or wound. The word injure may be in physical or emot...

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JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. JAMA began publication in 1883. It ...

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Kidney: One of a pair of organs located in the right and left side of the abdomen. The kid...

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Liver: The largest solid organ in the body, situated in the upper part of the abdomen on t...

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Lumbar: Referring to the five lumbar vertebrae, the disks below them, and the correspondin...

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Lumbar puncture: A procedure in which cerebrospinal fluid is removed from the spinal canal...

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Meningitis: Inflammation of the meninges, the three membranes that envelop the brain and t...

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Menstruation: The periodic blood that flows as a discharge from the uterus. Also called me...

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Migraine: Usually, periodic attacks of headaches on one or both sides of the head. These ...

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Migraine headache: The most common type of vascular headache involving abnormal sensitivit...

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Migraine without aura: See: Common migraine.

Migraineur: A person who has migraine headache. Borrowed from the French.

Migrainous neuralgia: A distinctive syndrome of headaches, today better known as cluster ...

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Monosodium glutamate: MSG, a sodium salt of the amino acid glutamic acid that enhances the...

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Muscle: Muscle is the tissue of the body which primarily functions as a source of power. T...

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Narcotic: 1. A drug that causes insensibility or stupor. A narcotic induces narcosi...

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Nasal: Having to do with the nose.

Nausea: Stomach queasiness, the urge to vomit. Nausea can be brought on by many causes, in...

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Neck: The part of the body joining the head to the shoulders. Also, any narrow or constric...

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Neuralgia: Pain along the course of a nerve.

Neurological: Having to do with the nerves or the nervous system as, for example, a neurol...

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Neurology: The medical specialty concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders o...

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Neuromuscular: Pertaining to both nerves and muscles, as in neuromuscular blockade by an a...

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NSAID: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, a medication that is commonly prescribed or pu...

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Onset: In medicine, the first appearance of the signs or symptoms of an illness as, for ex...

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Pain: An unpleasant sensation that can range from mild, localized discomfort to agony. Pa...

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Pain management: The process of providing medical care that alleviates or reduces pain. Mi...

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Paralysis: Loss of voluntary movement (motor function). Paralysis that affects only one mu...

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Pharmacist: A professional who fills prescriptions and, in the case of a compounding pharm...

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Pharmacy: A location where prescription medications are sold. A pharmacy is constantly sup...

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Prevalence: The proportion of individuals in a population having a disease or characterist...

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Prognosis: The forecast of the probable outcome or course of a disease; the patient's chan...

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Quality of life: The patient's ability to enjoy normal life activities. Quality of life is...

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Rule out: Term used in medicine, meaning to eliminate or exclude something from considera...

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Sensation: In medicine and physiology, sensation refers to the registration of an incoming...

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Serotonin: A neurotransmitter that is involved in the transmission of nerve impulses. Sero...

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Sinus: 1. An air-filled cavity in a dense portion of a skull bone. The sinuses decr...

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Sleep: The body's rest cycle.

Spasm: A brief, automatic jerking movement. A muscle spasm can be quite painful, with the ...

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Sphenopalatine neuralgia: A distinctive syndrome of headaches, better known today as clust...

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Spinal cord: The major column of nerve tissue that is connected to the brain and lies with...

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Spinal tap: Also known as a lumbar puncture or "LP", a spinal tap is a procedure whereby ...

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Stage: As regards cancer, the extent of a cancer, especially whether the disease has spre...

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Stomach: The digestive organ that is located in the upper abdomen, under the ribs. The upp...

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Stress: In a medical or biological context stress is a physical, mental, or emotional fact...

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Stroke: The sudden death of brain cells due to lack of oxygen, caused by blockage of blood...

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Sumatriptan: A triptan drug for the treatment of migraine. Marketed under the brand name I...

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Surgery: The branch of medicine that employs operations in the treatment of disease or inj...

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Syndrome: A combination of symptoms and signs that together represent a disease process.

Tension: 1) The pressure within a vessel, such as blood pressure: the pressure within t...

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Therapy: The treatment of disease. Therapy is synonymous with treatment.

Thigh: The thick, muscular portion of the leg that extends from the hip to the knee. The t...

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Tiredness: See: Tired.

Tongue: A strong muscle that is anchored to the floor of the mouth. The tongue is covered ...

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Trauma: A physical or emotional injury.

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Trigger: Something that either sets off a disease in people who are genetically predispose...

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Triptan: A class of drugs introduced in the 1990s for the treatment of migraine that act a...

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Tumor: An abnormal mass of tissue. Tumors are a classic sign of inflammation, and can be ...

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Tylenol: See: Acetaminophen.

Valsalva: 1. The Valsalva maneuver in which a person tries to exhale forcibly with ...

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Vomit: Matter from the stomach that has come up into and may be ejected beyond the mouth, ...

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Weight loss: Weight loss is a decrease in body weight resulting from either voluntary (die...

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Zolmitriptan: A triptan drug for the treatment of migraine. Marketed under the brand name ...

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Zomig: Brand name for zolmitriptan, a triptan drug for the treatment of migraine.

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