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Your migraine headache might be something else

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If you have ever missed work because of a severe headache you are certainly not alone. 

Migraine headaches are the third most common illness in the world, with an estimated 37 million Americans suffering migraines at least occasionally, costing the country billions of dollars in medical care and lost productivity each year, according to information provided by Lancaster Regional and Heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Centers.

Additionally, 1 in 10 school-aged children suffer from migraine headaches. 

One of the more challenging aspects of treating headache conditions is distinguishing between the types — most notably, the difference between a migraine and a sinus headache, Lancaster Regional and Heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Centers reported. Recent research revealed that headaches have been frequently misdiagnosed and mistreated. 

“We find that self-diagnosed sinus headaches are often migraines,” said James Pacelli, M.D., a neurologist with Regional Neurology and Pain Management Associates, located on the first floor of Lancaster Regional Medical Center at 250 College Ave., Lancaster. “A sinus headache is actually a migraine accompanied by sinus symptoms, which makes self-diagnosis difficult and inadvisable if you are a regular or chronic sufferer.” 

The confusion is not surprising, as the symptoms and causes have many similarities, and in both cases the pain occurs near and around the sinus cavity. 

A sinus headache — or sinusitis — is associated with a pus-like nasal discharge that represents a potential infection in the sinuses. Migraine may be associated with watery eyes and runny nose, but the fluid is clear and not the cause of the pain. Sinus headaches are not normally disabling, while migraine pain can be severe to disabling. 

The key distinguishing features of migraine are: 

• Nausea or vomiting. 

• Sensitivity to light or noise. 

• Moderate to severe pain in head and/or neck, usually located only on one side of the head. 

• Pulsing/throbbing pain. 

• Headache is worsened by activity or movement.

Experts advise patients to go beyond the location of the pain and pressure, and look for a headache associated with the inability to function normally at school or work, nausea and light sensitivity, and triggers such as weather change, menstrual cycle and physical or emotional stress. Most notably, it is commonly assumed that a headache associated with weather change is a sinus headache, when weather changes are actually a common trigger for migraines. Additionally, migraine may be hereditary. If other family members are migraine sufferers, it’s more likely that your headaches are migraine, as well. 

Ask yourself these questions, known as the ID Migraine Questionnaire developed by Dr. Richard Lipton: 

• In the past 90 days, have you experienced headaches that interfere with your ability to function normally? 

• Are your headaches ever accompanied by nausea? 

• When you have a headache, does bright light make the pain worse? 

If you answered “yes” to two of these three questions, migraine is the likely diagnosis 93 percent of the time. If all three are true, there is a 98 percent chance the diagnosis is migraine. 

Most patients included in the recent research studies who complained of “sinus headache” were taking a large amount of over-the-counter and prescription decongestants, antihistamines, nasal sprays, analgesics and NSAIDS, but expressed significant dissatisfaction with the results. 

“An effective method for diagnosing your headaches with certainty is to ask your doctor for a migraine-specific medication,” Pacelli said. Try the migraine medicine for your next three sinus headaches and evaluate the impact on symptom relief, compared to the sinus medicines you’ve used in the past, he said.

In some cases, your physician may recommend a more extensive evaluation, such as a CT scan of your sinuses to rule out sinus disease, or an MRI to rule out any issues associated with the brain. These diagnostics can help reassure you that your condition is truly a migraine, and that you are treating it appropriately.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 February 2017 09:37

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Personal care items needed for homeless veterans

Lori Totes of Hope 2017

Totes of Hope Chairperson Lori Demchak with several donated items that will be used to fill backpacks.

 

The American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region is collecting personal care items for homeless veterans to fill backpacks for its Totes of Hope Program through the end of February. The backpacks will be distributed to local homeless veterans throughout central Pennsylvania.

“We’re aiming to nearly double our goal from last year and provide backpacks to 400 homeless veterans,” said Totes of Hope Chairperson Lori Demchak. “Many of these men and woman think the world’s forgotten about them. It means so much to receive these backpacks, especially when donors include personal notes of thanks.” 

Items needed include: socks (men’s size 9-11); rain ponchos; fleece lap blankets; flashlight/batteries; pocket mirror; decks of cards; puzzle books; pens/notepads; sewing kits; safety pins; adhesive bandages; triple antibiotic ointment; hydrocortisone cream; cotton swabs; lip balm; toothbrushes (toothbrush cover); toothpaste; dental floss; mouthwash (small bottle); deodorant; bars of soap; body wash; lotion (small bottle); disposable razors; shaving cream; combs/brushes; pocket tissues (no boxes); hand sanitizer (travel size); nail clippers; sturdy backpacks (at least 17 inches deep and dark color); and notes of thanks.

Only new items will be accepted.

Personal care items and monetary donations will be accepted at the Red Cross Office in Harrisburg (1804 N. Sixth St.), as well as all local Red Cross offices throughout central Pennsylvania. Each of Karns Foods eight supermarkets are also collecting donations. Contact your local Red Cross office for business hours or visit www.redcross.org/centralpa for more information.

All questions concerning the Totes of Hope Program should be directed to Lori Demchak at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 717-257-1822, ext. 1251.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 February 2017 09:34

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County offers grace period on property taxes

Dauphin County Commissioners Jeff Haste, Mike Pries and George P. Hartwick III are offering an interest-free grace period to all property owners with 2016 delinquent property taxes. 

“In some cases, property owners misplace their tax bills or mistakenly assume their mortgage company already paid their taxes,” said Hartwick, who oversees the county Tax Claim Bureau. “This interest-free grace period gives property owners another chance to pay their taxes.”

Approximately 11,000 first-class letters, which include a breakdown of taxes owed and costs for properties, will be mailed mid-February to property owners with unpaid 2016 real property taxes.

“By waiving the interest period, we increase collections and reduce our mailing costs,” said Haste. “This is another way that we keep revenues coming in and costs from going up.”  

Property owners must pay their taxes in full by March 31 to take advantage of the program.

“This program not only quickly resolves many of our claims, but it also helps taxpayers,” said Pries. “Our goal is to make the tax-paying process easier for those who are trying to pay their bills and get back on their feet.”

For more information about the interest-free grace period or delinquent property taxes, contact the county’s Tax Claim Bureau at 717-780-6125 or visit www.DauphinCounty.org and enter “tax claim” in the search feature.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 February 2017 09:15

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Rep. Mehaffie learns committee assignments

Rep. Tom Mehaffie, R-Lower Swatara, has been named to serve on the Local Government, Gaming Oversight and Game and Fisheries committees during the 2017-18 legislative session.

The committees provide legislative oversight and help shape the language in bills that fall under their areas of responsibility.

 “My service on these three committees will allow me to voice the concerns of the people of the 106th District on a broad range of issues,” Mehaffie said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues and committee chairmen to advance legislation that will benefit our communities and the commonwealth as a whole.”

The House Local Government Committee addresses issues related to the municipal code, powers and duties of local officials, planning and zoning, intergovernmental cooperation, municipal authorities and police departments, and state technical and financial assistance to municipalities.

Mehaffie said he will draw on experiences in his prior local government role to aid his work in this committee.

“I expect that my experience as a Lower Swatara Township commissioner will serve me well on this committee,” Mehaffie said. “I look forward to delving deeper into issues affecting our state’s local governments and furthering legislation that will help them be more effective and efficient in providing services.”

The Game and Fisheries Committee reviews legislation that deals with laws, licensing and other matters related to hunting, trapping, fishing and boating.

The Gaming Oversight Committee oversees slot machine gaming, bingo, small games of chance, amusement laws and table games in Pennsylvania. In addition to its legislative responsibilities, the committee has oversight of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and aspects that deal with gaming within the Department of Revenue, the Office of Attorney General and the Pennsylvania State Police.

“It’s important we ensure this industry remains a competitive and thriving one for our community organizations, our local economy and for our residents,” Mehaffie said. “I’m eager to get to work with my colleagues to make sure this industry is held to the highest standards.”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 January 2017 13:00

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The Greatest Generation: Second-oldest Pearl Harbor veteran shares memories

PearlHarbor2David Downing, standing on the left, holds his father's hat as an assistant helps get Lt. Jim Downing ready to give his presentation on Thursday, Jan. 19, at Elizabethtown College.

 

Lt. Jim Downing figured that the explosions he was hearing just before 8 a.m. that Sunday were from a British cruiser chasing down a German battleship that was rumored to be in the area.

That it could be a Japanese attack never entered his mind. Hadn’t the best military minds just determined a carrier-based attack on Pearl Harbor to be “impossible?” And weren’t the United States and Japan holding peace talks at this very moment?

No matter. The radio broadcaster said that the island of Oahu was under attack, but that the enemy had not been identified. Within minutes, the same broadcaster was back on the air saying that it was the Japanese attacking .

Downing put on his uniform, kissed his bride of five months Morena goodbye, and sped off with his Navy buddies in a car as fast as they could go toward Pearl Harbor.

It was Dec. 7, 1941. Downing’s life and the lives of everyone else in the United States were about to change, in a way not be seen again until the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Now 103 years old, Downing, who lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the second oldest survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

He and Morena had seven children over their 68 years together — she died in 2010 — one of whom is an English professor at Elizabethtown College, David Downing.

On Thursday, Jan. 19, Jim Downing came to the college to talk about his Pearl Harbor experience with the students of today, as a guest of the college’s Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking.

Living history

Dec. 7, 2016, was the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Time Magazine did a virtual-reality piece on Downing as part of its coverage of the anniversary.

In January 2015, Downing attended President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Message, and last Dec. 27 Obama mentioned Downing by name as the president hosted a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Pearl Harbor. In 2016, Downing’s own account about Pearl Harbor — “The Other Side of Infamy” — was published. 

Yet for most of his life, David Downing said he hardly ever heard his father even mention Pearl Harbor.

“My father didn’t talk about it much,” David Downing said to the students and others gathered to hear his father’s presentation on Jan. 19. “On one occasion he was having some corporate problems and some people were having to be laid off and they were very upset with him.”

“I said, ‘You seem awfully composed with these people so angry at you.’ My dad said ‘I made a decision once during the war that cost two men their lives, and no decision that I have made since then seemed all that important.”

The elder Downing said that for the first 50 years after the Pearl Harbor attack, “nobody paid attention to us. We threw our uniforms away.”

“I think the first generation, they were part of the war so it was old hat to them. The next (generation) knew a little less, the next a little less. But now we’ve got a patriotic generation that is thankful for their freedom. They want to thank somebody, so we’re getting more attention.”

Recalling the day

Downing appears in remarkably good health for a man of 103, and his recollections of that fateful day 75 years ago are clear. 

As he and the others were running from their car to the burning battleships, Downing spotted a Japanese plane coming in low and slow that had spotted him.

“The machine gunner cut loose but he didn’t bank far enough and the bullets went over my head and dug a trench in the dirt behind me,” Downing said. “I was afraid that the next aviator would be a little more accurate, so I was scared — (there was) no place to hide.”

Downing’s ship, the USS West Virginia, was among the battleships moored in Pearl Harbor that day. Downing had already been in the Navy nine years, and had spent all of those years on the West Virginia.

On the day of the attack he was a gunner’s mate first class and the ship’s postmaster. By the time Downing got to his ship, the Japanese had hit it with nine torpedoes. The West Virginia was sinking and on fire.

PearlHarbor1Elizabethtown English Professor David Downing (right, standing), watches his father Lt. Jim Downing (seated at table) sign copies of his book for students during Downing's visit to the college on Jan. 19.

Each of the battleships carried about a million gallons of fuel oil. As the tanks were being erupted and blown up by Japanese bombs, the oil spilled out on top of the water.

“The saddest thing was the sailors being blown off their ships,” Downing recalled. “They came to the surface with a thin coat of oil on them. The fire was so hot they just became human torches and burned to death right there as they came up out of the water.”

Downing grabbed a fire hose from the ship next to the West Virginia — the USS Tennessee, which was only moderately damaged — and tried to keep the flames away from exploding any more of the ammunition.

By the time Downing had a chance to check his watch it was five minutes to noon. The attack had ended shortly after 10 a.m. — roughly two hours after it began — but Downing and the rest of Pearl Harbor had no idea whether the Japanese would come in for another wave, or whether they would stage a land invasion that night.

 

TO LEARN MORE: You can read more of Lt. Jim Downing’s story by going to www.USSWestVirginia.org. Downing’s new book “The Other Side of Infamy” is also available on Amazon.com.

 

Downing went over to the hospital to visit a friend who had been burned. While there, Downing saw another 100 sailors or so, most of them blind and with their hair burned off. 

Downing wondered what he could do. He decided to get a notebook and go from sailor to sailor, getting each one of their home addresses and asking each of them to dictate a paragraph about what they had done that day. As a postmaster, Downing would see to it that the personalized letters were sent home to each of the sailors’ parents.

“They said, ‘I’m going to be all right, don’t worry about me, I’ll be home for Christmas, very cheerful.’ Most of them died that night,’” Downing said.

Downing spent that night along with about 2,000 other sailors in a sports arena, preparing for what they assumed would be the inevitable Japanese land invasion that never came. 

Morena came to see him the next day, but Downing and the rest stayed on alert for the rest of December and couldn’t come home. It took six weeks to get all the oil out of his hair. It took two years to clean up all the oil that had spilled into the waters of Pearl Harbor.

Downing stayed at Pearl Harbor working to salvage the West Virginia until 1943. He finished out the war in Washington, D.C., as a gunnery instructor at a school that was running 24 hours a day to keep up with demand. 

Downing went on to spend a career in the Navy, rising to captain of the USS Patapsco. He had another brush with history in 1954, when while “racing away” from Bikini Atoll Downing and his crew “were showered with radioactive ash from Castle Bravo, the most powerful nuclear bomb ever detonated by the United States and the largest U.S. nuclear contamination accident,” according to an account in Downing’s book.

 

Meeting the enemy

Downing also became involved with The Navigators, a Christian evangelical organization that Downing would end up working for full-time for 27 years. It was through The Navigators that Downing met Mitsuo Fuchida, the air group commander of the Pearl Harbor attack.

Downing admitted to not being “that warm” toward Fuchida in their first meeting, offering the former Japanese aviator “a very limp hand.” 

But in reading about Fuchida over the years, “I’m convinced his remorse was genuine, so I have no trouble forgiving him.”

Downing during his talk said that he “loved” the Japanese people but could not forgive “the leadership that poisoned their minds and caused all this.”

The empathy that he had for his peers in the Japanese military was evident early on, as noted by an anecdote passed on by his son David Downing.

“When we were children we used to like a documentary called ‘Victory At Sea,’” David Downing said. “It was all about the war in the Pacific. We used to cheer and clap when you would see a Japanese airplane catch on fire and go twirling and hit the ocean.”

“One time my father was walking through the room as we were watching the program and he said, ‘remember boys whenever one of those airplanes hits the ocean you’re watching a man die.’”

Lt. Downing said that the message of Pearl Harbor, and the message that he has for young people today, can be summarized in a phrase from a speech given by President Ronald Reagan — “weakness invites aggression.”

“You’re the leaders of tomorrow, you’re the voters of tomorrow, you’re the taxpayers of tomorrow,” Downing said. “Keep America strong. I want to see America so strong that in cyberspace, in the skies, on the sea, under the sea, on the ground, so strong that no foreign government will even think of attacking us. The only language that tyrants understand is force.”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 January 2017 12:58

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