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Causes of Migraines in the Elderly

By Carol White, 9:00 am on June 20, 2016

Even though young adults are typically more prone to migraines, these serious headaches can still affect those in their senior years. Because the elderly are more susceptible to certain health conditions, the list of potential causes for their migraines may be even larger, making them difficult to pinpoint in each instance. The staff at Home Care Assistance, a trusted provider of senior care in Prescott, discusses a few of these causes as well as a related condition known as hypnic headaches.

Encephalitis

This condition is caused by a viral infection that inflames a senior’s brain and causes severe headaches. Seniors with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to encephalitis. In addition to migraines, many seniors experience seizures, weakness, and unusual changes in their personality. Treating the viral infection almost always requires a senior to take antibiotics while being watched over by medical professionals.

Blood Clots

Every year, over 800,000 adults in the United States experience a stroke. According to a 2009 study published by the CDC, 10 percent of males and 22 percent of females experience severe migraines in the days leading up to their stroke. Both strokes and migraines can result from blood clots working their way through your loved one’s blood stream. Most strokes can be prevented with a few lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Dehydration

It is common for seniors to be on multiple forms of medication at a time, which can result in severe dehydration. Over time, dehydration can cause a wide variety of medical conditions, including acute migraines. Seniors and their Prescott caregivers should keep an eye out for additional signs of dehydration such as dry mouth, confusion, and ongoing infections. When on medication, your loved one might need to drink up to 20 cups of water per day.

Hypnic Headaches and Their Causes

This relatively rare disorder is similar to migraines and affects adults between the ages of 40 and 80. Unlike other headaches, hypnic headaches only take place when seniors are sleeping and will wake them up for anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours. Most hypnic headaches are the result of sleep apnea, drug withdrawal, or other secondary medical problems. While there is currently no cure, caffeine tablets, lithium, and melatonin have all proven to be helpful in alleviating the symptoms.

To learn more about migraines and how they can be prevented and treated, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and post-stroke care in Prescott, our caregivers are expertly trained to assist seniors with maintaining healthy diets and regular exercise routines, and all of our care services come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. For more information and to request a complimentary consultation, call 928-771-0105 today.