Recognize and Treat Your Migraines

July 21, 2014

Even if you’re not ahealthcareprofessional, you can still identify the warning signs.

You are not alone

More likely to occur in childhood, migraines strike nearly 5 to 10% of all children. Migraines affect more women than men, and by adulthood, they are reported by 1 in 7 women, and 1 in 18 men.

The frequency of migraines is variable. They can be rare (few times a year), occur regularly (monthly), but sometimes these debilitating headaches are experienced on a much more frequent basis (weekly).

They can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, and the pain is almost intolerable. Brace yourself; you’ll need patience just to endure it.

Headache or migraine?

Migraines are usually characterized by the following factors:

- Fatigue, food cravings, and intense emotion are a frequent precursor. The pain may cause sensitivity to light, smell and sound.

- Migraines are often preceded by a sensory aura (a change in vision, numbness or tingling of the face, slurred speech).

- The pain is usually concentrated on one side of the head, and is much more intense than a classic headache.

- The pain may feel like a constant, intense piercing, pulsating or throbbing sensation.

- It can be accompanied by nausea and may even cause vomiting.

You may feel feverish and experience sweating and shivering.

What are the triggers?

If you struggle with migraines regularly, it’s important to investigate the triggers and find the underlying cause(s).

- Poor diet: caffeine, sugar, artificial ingredients like aspartame andmonosodiumglutamate(MSG) are common culprits. Also, avoid skipping meals; it can trigger a terrible migraine!

- Stress: This will instantly feed a migraine, regardless of whether it’s “good stress” or“bad stress”.

- Hormones: For women, monthly hormone fluctuations and pregnancy can influence severe head-ache patterns.

- Dehydration: Not drinking enough water every day is a primary contributing factor.

- Inactivity: Lack of exercise often ignores the therapeutic benefits physical activity, which stimulates the body’s natural ability to control pain and relieve nervous tension.

- Changes in your daily routine: Persistent sleep problems, a change in work schedules or meal times, etc...

Tips for managing migraine pain

Start by keeping a migraine-journal of your daily activities, noting the warning signs as soon as you feel them coming on. This tool will help you identify the triggers by tracking what you ate; what you did; how you slept; or anything out of the ordinary.

There are several ways to treat migraine.

Medications: Over-the-counter ibuprofen and acetaminophen are commonly recommended to help soothe the excruciating pain of a migraine. However, to be effective, they must be taken at the very onset of symptoms.

Alternative medicine: Osteopaths, chiropractors,naturopaths, and massage therapists are practitioners specialized in treating the underlying causes of chronic migraine headaches. These remedies are particularly helpful if the source of the attack is nervous stress.

DMD (disease-modifying-drug): This preventive medicine, taken daily, treats only the most severe migraines. It works by inhibiting the body’sreactivityto the triggers that set them off. To know if this treatment is right for you, you’ll need to see a doctor and be referred to a specialist.

Recognize and Treat Your Migraines
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