Migraines have the power to disrupt life for over 38 million Americans – 13% of our nation’s population according to the American Migraine Foundation.
Migraines can be defined as severe, pulsing pain in one area of the head that often includes nausea, retching and light/sound sensitivity according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. As if that weren’t bad enough, according to American Migraine Foundation constant migraine affects 4 million Americans yearly with eight days meeting criteria for migraine each month – this would qualify them for coverage under their insurance plans!
Migraines often strike at inconvenient moments: when entertaining guests from out of town; during holidays and vacations; or simply on random days of the week – even those that were planned well in advance! Migraines come on quickly, can change plans suddenly, and can throw even the best laid out plans off course.
There are ways to lower your chance of migraine if you become aware of its triggers. While its precise causes remain unknown, researchers believe hereditary and climate factors play a part in its occurrence. By understanding which triggers are present for you personally, changes can be made accordingly in order to limit their impact on daily activities and ultimately decrease migraine risk altogether.
According To The Clinic, Many Factors May Contribute To Migraine Attacks, Including:
Changes to Sleep-Wake Pattern Receiving too much or too little rest can cause migraine attacks.
Changes in Environment A change in barometric tension or weather patterns may trigger migraine symptoms.
Drinks Can Trigger Migraines Alcohol and highly caffeinated beverages such as coffee can trigger migraines.
Food Additives Aspartame and monosodium glutamate (MSG), both found in many beverages and foods, can act as migraine triggers.
Foods That May Trigger Migraines Aged cheeses, salty foods, chocolate and processed foods may exacerbate migraine symptoms.
Hormonal Changes Women who suffer from migraines typically report headaches prior to or during their periods, when estrogen levels drop dramatically.
Medication could aggravate migraines: vasodilators and oral contraceptives may increase their intensity.
Sensory Stimuli Bright lights, strong scents (including fragrances), bright sunlight glare and loud sounds can trigger migraine headaches.
Stressful working environments or situations may trigger migraine headaches.
Even though you cannot alter your family history or age, understanding your personal migraine triggers is one way to ensure you’re taking preventative steps instead of exacerbating existing migraine attacks.
1. Have Consistent Lifestyle Habits
Cowan states: “Migraine is a problem for both you and your current situation, but my successful migraine patients take their lifestyle habits very seriously.
“Set a pattern by eating meals and hitting the sack/waking up at consistent times, as well as scheduling activities at predictable times and being consistent and reliable with them,” Cowan states. This establishes patterns within your brain so it knows what’s coming next: rest, wake up/eat/workout.
Migraines don’t like change; being stable reassures your brain that all is well.
2. Utilize A Multidisciplinary Approach
Cowan stresses to her patients the need to take an integrated approach in managing migraine, noting it takes an army to fight off headaches; therefore, multidisciplinary solutions must be pursued in order to effectively address it.
One way of doing this is by paying closer attention to your life, suggests Cowan: “Don’t allow the clutter to build up, if you had difficulty sleeping the previous night try cutting back on wine for that day”.
Er also notes, “With migraine, there’s no escape from civilisation; instead, take what precautions are possible and then carry on living your life as usual.
3. Eat Natural Whole Foods
In order to prevent migraines, eating natural whole foods is an effective strategy.
Meredith Barad, MD, clinical associate professor of anesthesiology, perioperative, and pain medicine at Stanford University suggests “limiting caffeine and sugar, cutting back on processed food consumption, and avoiding chemical triggers like MSG and nitrites which may set off migraine attacks in certain individuals”.
Dr. Barad advises patients to limit carbs and sugar, opting instead for proteins and vegetables when you feel peckish, and avoid foods whose labels contain unfamiliar ingredients if possible!
4. Manage Your Stress
“Migraine is an ongoing medical condition that will never go away, so to maintain optimal health you should live as healthy a lifestyle as possible,” advises Barad. Along with understanding your migraine triggers and managing pressure effectively, she suggests eating and resting healthily as well as psychotherapy, which has proven more successful than medications for treating sadness and anxiety associated with migraine.
5. Try Preventive Therapies
Try Preventive Therapies If there are triggers you are unable to control, such as weather or barometer changes, that set off migraine attacks, discuss possible preventive medicines with your physician.
Coohill believes the latest preventive migraine medications may transform lives. “For individuals living with migraines who experience continuous episodes, these preventive medicines could alleviate both pain and future episodes.”
Coohill notes, “Typically we prescribe medication to individuals experiencing migraine symptoms lasting seven days or longer. However, taking acute migraine medication daily could result in rebound headaches.”