Student Life: Migraines and Headaches

Don’t Let Pain be an Obstacle:
What You Should Know
to Prevent and Manage
Headaches and Migraines

By Jack Fraim, M.D.

College. For some, that word alone is synonymous with “headache.” With late nights, early mornings, partying, studying, social obligations and tests, headaches are a given at some point in a student’s college tenure.

For some students, migraines can be a serious concern. These excruciating headaches can slow you down. So how can you know the difference?

Knowing the difference between a headache and a migraine can help you prevent and manage the associated pain.

Knowing the difference between a headache and a migraine can help you prevent and manage the associated pain.

Headache vs. Migraine. Believe it or not, there is a difference, and it’s more than just the pain level. Headaches are symptomatic, triggered by something that occurs such as stress, staring at a television or computer screen for too long or not getting enough sleep. Migraines are actually a part of someone’s genetic makeup deep in the neuro system. In fact, about 75 percent of migraine symptoms are inherited. For the most part, migraines don’t have the same external triggers as headaches, although they can be triggered by certain foods.

Why am I Getting Headaches? By far the leading cause in headaches for a college student is stress. However, sinus infections are a second cause. And then there’s the sleep deprivation that comes with college life. Studying all night for the big exam and late nights out with friends is taxing on the body, particularly over time. Therefore, it’s extremely important to get enough rest and hydrate with water in between those visits to your favorite hangouts.

Healthy Diet, Healthy Head. One of the most effective forms of headache and migraine prevention is eating properly. Avoiding food with additives (i.e. fast food) in favor of more oxygen-rich foods (like fruits and vegetables) can help prevent headaches. But don’t worry, caffeine is fine in small doses, although overdoing caffeine can be terrible for the head. The most severe migraines are caused from foods with high contents of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and nitrates. Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and NutraSweet, are also common triggers in severe migraines. As much as you might not want to hear it, alcohol can be linked to head pain as well, and that’s not counting the morning after. Another great way to prevent headaches is staying hydrated and exercising. All you really need is 20 minutes a day of light exercise.

When to Visit the Doctor. Headaches can come and go, so it’s good to be aware of when you might need to visit the doctor. If you get minor to mild headaches every month or two, then over-the-counter medicines such as Advil or Tylenol work fine for treatment. However, if headaches are waking you up at night, occurring more frequently, lasting longer and are beginning to prevent you from doing daily activities, then a doctor’s visit is advised. Some migraines and severe headaches can warrant prescribed medication.

Your college experience doesn’t have to be a big headache. Recognizing the difference between a manageable headache and the severity of a migraine is important, and knowing what causes them is the best form of prevention.

Dr. Jack Fraim is a neurologist with the Seton Brain and Spine Institute and assistant professor of neurology at the Dell Medical School.

Student Life: Tattoo Tips

So, You Want to Get a Tattoo?

By Ammar Ahmed, M.D.

Over the past 20 years, body art in its many mediums has become a more acceptable part of mainstream culture. Whereas tattoos once were the hallmark of sailors or bikers, tattoos now are common among all ages of people, particularly college students. In fact, according to a report by the National Institutes of Health, 73 percent of people who have a tattoo got their first one
between the ages of 18 and 22.
Whether it’s a statement of personal expression or a memento from that unforgettable weekend, getting “inked” is a permanent commitment with more than just cosmetic risks. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you go under the needle. Continue reading

Happenings: VATS Fundraiser

Veterans Alliance of Texas State to host golf benefit for Special Operations Warrior Foundation

By Brittnie Curtis

Golf Tourney Flyer-01The Veterans Alliance of Texas State (VATS) is holding its fifth annual golf tournament on Saturday, March 28, at Quail Creek Country Club in San Marcos. This is the biggest spring event and biggest fundraiser each year for VATS.

“VATS is a chartered student organization through Student Diversity and Inclusion,” says Joe Aebersold, a Marine Corps veteran and vice president of VATS. “Our goal is to provide academic and personal/social support to transitioning military members as they move from service to school.” Continue reading

Students: Spring Break Tips



Spring Break is here at last. Unfortunately, semesters don’t always end when a college student’s vacation begins. Learning to keep up with academic work while enjoying your time off is an essential skill for college life and beyond!

Make a plan. Since your brain is still in college mode, take advantage of it. Put what you have to get done and related deadlines on a calendar. Make a schedule to be sure you study some each day and more on days you aren’t actively involved in extracurricular fun. Creating a plan now will prevent stress later and keep you from completely losing the rhythm of academic life.  Continue reading

Students: Organize Your Academic World


iStock_000001949041SmallJust as your room and even your car can indicate your emotional state, so can your notes and books show your academic state of mind. Piles of scribbled-on Post-its, incoherent notes, and randomly highlighted books are all displays of your hectic, stress-filled, and often ineffective academic life.

As the semester continues, take time to organize your notes and school materials. In so doing, you can alleviate stress and have a much more successful learning experience!

  • Whether you use loose-leaf-filled binders or spiral notebooks, remember to date your notes. The dates will not only help you see the cause-and-effect relations between the material you are covering, but also they’ll prove to be priceless should you miss a class and need to get notes from a classmate.
  • Along these lines, exchange contact information with a classmate or two.
  • Use the margins in your notes and books to jot questions that might be on the test, questions you have or to write page numbers of textbook material that correlate to your notes.
  • Remember that most textbooks have indexes. If you have a topic on which your notes are sketchy, you can look it up in your textbook and take notes from it and/or highlight that portion of the text.
  • Purchase a planner/agenda and put important due dates from your syllabus in it. Add information to the planner as the instructor assigns more tasks during the semester.
  • Record dates for major assignments or tests several weeks in advance. Then you can begin your work ahead of time and avoid the stress of procrastinating on an assignment or pulling an all-nighter studying for a test.
  • Buy a calendar and put it on the wall where you’ll be forced to see it. This is a great way to remind yourself of important dates/deadlines daily.
  • Use the calendar feature on your phone to record important test dates and other academic events.
  • Consider using different-colored ink or paper for your courses to better organize your classwork.

As always, when in doubt about what you’ve written or how you’ve got a series of events or problems ordered, ask your professors for help during office hours or e-mail them. Remember, staying organized in your academic life can lead to academic and personal success!


Around Campus: Business Leadership Week

Helping the Texas State community get the edge on success

By Brittnie Curtis

For the past six years, the McCoy College of Business Administration at Texas State University has hosted Business Leadership Week (BLW). Anchored around the Texas State Leadership Institute Annual Conference, BLW is a four-day event that gives attendees the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions about the Common Experience theme and how it applies to the business and professional world.

Brittany Christman, McCoy College advisor and student development coordinator, along with the rest of the academic advising staff, have spent the past two semesters setting the framework for the upcoming BLW. With the help of distinguished speakers, campus organizations and sponsors, this signature event has grown significantly over the past years.  Continue reading

Students: Professors as a Resource

by Texas State SLAC

Senior professor discusses an issue with a student

It can be difficult to converse with professors before or after class. There may be too little time because the professor may have to go to another building, or another class may be waiting outside. That’s why professors designate office hours to meet students outside of classes. Yet many professors say few students use this time. Take advantage of their willingness to help. Your professor may be formal in class yet friendly and approachable one-to-one. Continue reading