While much research is still being done as to what causes headaches and there is no cure, new medications have become available during the last decade. These new medicines may reduce the frequency and decrease the debilitating pain associated with migraine headaches. There are also preventative measures and self-help techniques patients may find helpful.
Some patients may experience various sensory warning signs that alert them of an impending migraine. Also known as an “aura,” these signs may include: visual disturbances such as blind spots, the appearance of flashing lights or zigzag lines. Patients may also feel tingling sensations in the hands or feet prior to a headache. Other signs are: an increase in energy level, an elated feeling, being thirstier than usual, crave sweets, become drowsy, moody or depressed. While auras may begin 15-30 minutes before, these sensations may happen anywhere from a day to several hours before a migraine strikes.
Nausea, vomiting, severe sensitivity to light and sound may accompany a migraine as well. The pain and other symptoms that result can leave a person unable to function normally for several hours or even days.
While the exact cause of headaches is unknown, there are some common triggers that have been discovered. Fluctuation of hormone levels in women before or after their period, as well as during pregnancy or menopause may be a culprit. Particular foods may trigger headaches as well. These include; alcohol, aged cheeses, caffeine, marinated, pickled or fermented foods, chocolate, aspartame and the preservative monosodium glutamate which is found in a variety of foods and spices. Stress, fatigue, changes in sleep schedule or environment, skipping meals as well as some medications can worsen or trigger a migraine.
Known to be hereditary, you are at increased risk if one and especially if both of your parents suffered from migraine headaches. While boys and girls are equally likely to experience migraines, the probability to suffer migraines increases for girls once they hit puberty. Young women are at the greatest risk of developing migraines.
In addition to drugs your Dr. may prescribe for these debilitating headaches, there are some preventative measures you can take. If certain foods or drinks seem to trigger your migraines you may want to avoid them. Keep a regular sleep and meal schedule and reduce stress when possible. Participating in activities you enjoy for a short time each day may be helpful in alleviating stress. Some ideas are: reading, going for a walk, gardening, taking a bubble bath or listening to music. While too much physical activity may increase chances of a headache, regular moderate exercise my decrease your chances of a migraine. Exercises involving muscle relaxation may be particularly beneficial. These may include; yoga, meditation or progressive muscle relaxation techniques. Always check with your Dr. before beginning an exercise routine. Females that feel estrogen may be a trigger should talk to their Dr. about alternatives to any medications they are taking that may contain this hormone.
Keeping a diary of foods you have eaten, a log of the time and length of headaches, noting increased levels of stress and anything that seems to alleviate headache symptoms may assist you and your Dr. in preventing or decreasing your migraines. Avoiding light, sound stimuli and resting during an episode may provide some relief from symptoms. A cloth covered ice pack applied to the back of the neck and light pressure applied to painful areas may help as well.
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Content: PLR, Image: Pixabay