Be Mindful of Migraines – They Can Change Your Accent

Common headaches can be caused by a number of reasons-from dehydration to common colds and flu and other symptoms. Migraines, on the other hand, are more serious medical conditions that must be prevented as migraine sufferers are more likely to be at risk for stroke. More than just health risks, chronic migraine sufferers are also exposed to brain damage that may alter one’s memory, movement or speech. Such is the case of Sarah Colwill, a 35-year-old IT project manager who was born in Germany and resides in Plymouth.

Colwill experienced a chronic migraine that was so bad, she had to be taken to the hospital. The paramedics who took her in noticed that she sounded strange and that her accent was of a Chinese person. Colwill admitted that she had never been to China. Doctors later diagnosed her with Foreign Accent Syndrome, a disorder caused by brain damage that occurs during a stroke. Colwill had been experiencing severe headaches for a decade and doctors examined her to find that she had sporadic hemiplegic migraines, which causes blood vessels in the brain to expand. This expansion results in even more serious stroke-like symptoms such as paralysis.

Foreign Accent Syndrome, on the other hand, is a very rare condition that damages a part of our brain that controls speech and word formation. There are only 60 recorded cases of the said condition in the whole world. Some prominent cases include BBC World Service broadcaster Anne Bristow-Kitney, who suffered a stroke and brain hemorrhage in 1996. Another is that of Wendy Hasnip, a special needs teacher from Yorkshire who suffered a stroke in 1999 and subsequently speaking with a French accent. Lynda Walker from Newcastle upon Tyne also suffered a stroke, replacing her normal speech with a Jamaican accent.

A migraine is one form of vascular headache caused by the enlargement of blood vessels. This is commonly caused by a wide array of triggers, which highly depends on one’s health and lifestyle. Smoking is a common trigger for a number of people while food is also seen as a migraine trigger. Such food items such as chocolate, cheese, nuts, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and alcohol are possible migraine triggers. Too much stress and tension can also trigger a migraine, so be aware of your work stress levels and your lifestyle.

The best way to prevent migraine attacks is to get proper exercise and eat a well-balanced, low fat meal. Watching what you eat not only helps in migraine prevention but also contributes to a better, healthier life. Other ways to avoid migraine is to maintain good posture and avoid repetitive motion. If you have a desk job that gets you tied to the computer for endless hours, make sure to take regular breaks to rest your eyes and move your legs and feet. Make sure that you’re aware of the foods that commonly cause you headaches and migraines and maintain a regular sleeping schedule as to ensure enough rest. If symptoms persist, have yourself checked by your doctor and ask for advice regarding medication.

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