A migraine is no little headache

February 6, 2014

A migraine is more than a simple headache. It can negatively affect your quality of life. The pain can seem unbearable and come on with little notice.

Signs that don’t deceive

There are several types of migraines, but the most common are those with or without an aura. Auras are visual effects, such as light flashes or blurring, that occur prior to the onset of the headache. Don’t delay seeing your doctor if your headache lasts 4 to 72 hours, if the pain affects half of your head, and is accompanied by pulsating that is aggravated by physical activity.

You are, in all probability, suffering from migraines if your headaches interfere with your daily activities and if you experience at least two of the following symptoms:

  • photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • sensitivity to sound
  • nausea
  • vomiting

A feminine disorder

Migraines are often caused by fluctuating hormone levels and most commonly affect women, from the onset of puberty and into the forties. Symptoms generally disappear after menopause. Two thirds of women experience migraines only during menstruation; however, it is possible to experience migraines more frequently. That is because migraines may be triggered by a range of other causes, including certain odours (perfume or cleaning products), stress, changes in sleep habits, and food allergies.

A little prevention

In addition to your own individual sensitivities, some foods are known to provoke migraines.

  • coffee and all caffeine-containing products
  • alcohol, especially red wine and beer
  • chocolate
  • aged cheeses
  • foods that contain monosodium glutamate, or MSG
  • carbonated beverages and aspartame-containing snacks

Keep a migraine journal

While you wait for your next appointment with a health professional, keep a journal of your migraine attacks. Note the length of your migraines, their triggers (if known), and their evolution, with or without treatment. This information will be very useful to your doctor.

In conjunction with your medical appointment

In addition to analgesics, try to relieve your pain by resting in a calm, dark area. Apply cold compresses to your head, massage your scalp, and apply pressure to your temples. Certain relaxation techniques may also be helpful. You may want to try osteopathy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, or acupuncture; many migraine sufferers experience a decrease in the frequency of attacks with these types of treatments. The important thing is to not allow your migraines to poison your life and keep you from doing the things you enjoy doing.

A migraine is no little headache
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