Migraine headaches treatment and tactics
Migraine headaches, severe throbbing headaches, usually on one side of the head affects approximately 36 million Americans, with women three times more likely to suffer than men. Along with pain, many sufferers may experience nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and major disruptions of daily activities. Migraine headaches may last for hours or days
Risk factors for migraine include:
- Family history
- Age – migraines may begin at any age, typically peak in your 30’s and then may decline .
- Sex – women are 3 times more likely to have migraines, hormonal influence may play a part, since some patients see improvement after menopause.
The exact cause of migraines may be unknown, certain factors can set off or “trigger” a migraine. These include:
- Certain foods, including but not limited to foods with nitrates, red wine, or chocolate. This varies widely patient to patient.
- Hormonal changes
- Altitude changes
- Bright and/or flickering lights
Side Effects of Migraine Medications
Treating migraines pharmaceutically can help, treatment options include daily medications that may help prevent a migraine from developing or a pain reliever taken at the beginning of the headache. These medications may provide relief, although over-the-counter and prescription medications may have unpleasant side effects such as:
- Sedative effects
- Worsening of headache
- Dry mouth
- Weight gain
- Medication overuse headaches.
How should you manage your migraines? Discerning your particular triggers is vital. An important way to do this is to start a migraine diary. Your migraine diary should include:
- When the migraine occurred
- Duration of headache
- Where it hurts and rate the pain
- What response to treatment you had
- What you ate, or if you missed a meal
- How did you sleep the night preceding the headache
- Exercise preceding headache
- The weather on the day of the headache
Daily management tools
While you may need some over the counter or prescription medications for your migraine headaches, there are natural tools that may help soothe your headache pain. It is important that you takes steps daily to help to manage migraines. These include:
- Diet – know your triggers and try your best to avoid them. This can be very individual for each patient, but some common triggers are foods with nitrates, chocolate, red wine, MSG, processed foods, dried fruits, and cultured dairy products
- Yoga – may provide some relief to the frequency, duration and intensity of migraines. The practice of yoga may improve anxiety, release tension and improve your vascular health.
- Magnesium – adding magnesium to your diet with almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, oatmeal and eggs. You can also add a high quality magnesium supplement.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and CoQ10 may help ease migraines
- Massage -decreases heart rate, anxiety and cortisol levels.
- Develop consistent sleeping and eating schedules
- Stay well hydrated
- Exercise regularly
- Wear sunglasses and/or glasses with blue light blockers
Holistic Tactics for when a migraine strikes
Some natural practices you can use when a headache strikes are:
- Identify and correct food or food chemical sensitivities/intolerances.
- Have a Bio-energetic Scan done to determine any possible weak links in your body’s energy field.
- Use hypnosis to correct underlying emotional triggers.
- Evaluate neck/tmj and cranial subluxations with skilled low force chiropractic.
- Inhaling lavender oil may help – either apply to your temples or inhale directly for 15 minutes.
- Acupressure – the pressure point at the base of your thumb and index finger. Press firmly with the thumb and index finger of your opposite hand, move your thumb in a circle. Press firmly but not to the point of pain. Then repeat on the opposite hand.
- Apply peppermint oil to your forehead and temples
- Block trigger scents with a substitute scent like mint or coffee beans
- Warm compresses or shower/bath
- Cold compress on the neck and forehead, because migraines are personal, keeping a diary will help you know if hot or cold works best for you
- Drinking a caffeinated drink
- Resting in a dark quiet room
Your Migraine “go bag!”
Being proactive when it comes to managing migraines may help some anxiety that surrounds a potential migraine. Experts suggest having a migraine kit handy, so that if a migraine comes on when you are not at home you may be able to find some relief. Things to include in your migraine go bag include:
- Pain relievers
- Cold/hot pads
- Sunglasses and ear plugs
- Anti-nausea remedies – saltines, and/or ginger ale for example
- Air sickness bags
- Any essential oils that you have found helpful, such as lavender or peppermint, or coffee beans if that scent soothes you.
- Your migraine diary
- Emergency contact information