Are you tired of the anguish that comes with your migraine headaches? You are not alone. There are millions of others experiencing this painful condition and are in search of relief. Migraine headaches can cause physical and emotional suffering; as you must be already aware of. But the fact is that the secret of getting relief lies with you.
Yes! You can help yourself and do a lot to prevent migraine attacks or reduce your pain. It is time that you act on it; before it attacks you. The first step is to learn about migraine headaches, their features, the way they affect you and the trigger factors. The next step would be to plan your fight back strategy - a ‘Stay Well’ approach that can protect you from migraine.
Typical Features Of Migraine Headaches Include:
- Pain on any one side of the head; may shift to other side after some time.
- Pain is sometimes severe and intense enough to affect your daily activities.
- Migraine attacks can last from 4 to 72 hours; the duration can gradually increase.
- Headache of a throbbing nature that is often sensitive to sound and movement.
- Pain may be associated with nausea, vomiting, oversensitivity or irritability.
- Increased sensitivity to light, sound, touch and even certain smells. Pain can worsen with exertion and stressful activities like climbing stairs or overwork.
Some trigger factors include psychological stress, certain foods and medications, environmental changes, loud noise, sleep disturbances, skipping meals and sudden changes in daily routine.
The exact cause is not known; experts believe that it is because of a more sensitive nervous system that causes inflammation of blood vessels resulting in pain. There are no specific diagnostic tests to diagnose migraine. It is usually based on your clinical history of your headache. Your physician may prescribe medications that control migraine headache, which your need to follow.
6 Lifestyle Modifications To Prevent Migraine
The key to prevent migraine is to understand the influence of your lifestyle on the severity and intensity of migraine and appreciate the role of a healthy lifestyle.
1. Diet- Maintain a routine; especially when it comes to eating. Eat regular meals, small frequent ones if required. Drink plenty of water and keep yourself well hydrated. Have a good healthy breakfast; a mix of carbohydrates and proteins is the best.
Avoid skipping meals. Avoid foods that can trigger migraine like alcohol, processed foods, foods with preservatives and additives. Identify your own triggers and avoid them. Stay away from smoking and even second hand smoke.
2. Fitness- Follow a routine fitness schedule that includes aerobic exercises like swimming, walking, cycling for 20 to 30 minutes; if possible daily or at least 3 times a week. It is better to consult your physician if there are other health conditions. Maintain your suppleness by flexibility exercises and simple stretches especially of neck and back.
3. Posture- Pay attention to your posture and especially the way you hold your neck, shoulders and back. While reading, writing or computer usage, make sure your posture is well adjusted and avoid bending the neck.
4. Routine- Follow consistent sleep patterns of sleeping and rising at the same time each day. Too much or too little sleep can be a trigger. Set a time for each activity, like exercise, sleep, study, reading, household chores, hobbies, etc and try to follow it without much deviation. Avoid late night sitting up. Avoid loud noise, strong fragrances, over work and other triggers.
5. Stress Management- Emotional disturbances are the biggest triggers of migraine. Practice overlooking certain unimportant things that can be dealt with later; this will reduce your stressful thinking. Practice thought stopping or divert yourself when undesirable emotions try to creep into your mind.
Relax yourself by meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, listening to music, nature walks and light massage. You can write a personal diary to express your suppressed emotions or involve in creative activities of your choice. Connect with friends and family and spend quality time to remain in good spirits. Practice time management and carry out tasks in small chunks with realistic goals.
6. Self Care - After having tried to avoid, if migraine still attacks, the first thing is to identify the early warning signs. They can precede many hours before the attack for e.g. lightheadedness, restlessness, foods cravings, loss of appetite, excessive yawning, etc. Identify your symptoms so that you can cut down on factors that are triggering and stimulating your migraine attack.
- Cold Application- Applying ice pack at the pain area or the neck area for 5 to 10 minutes can help;
- Massage- Gentle massage to the muscles of neck and shoulders can help. Try gently rubbing on face, temples, forehead and scalp.
- Warm Compress- A warm compress on the shoulders and back can also help.
- Reduce Stimulation- Avoid noise and light. Close your eyes and quietly rest in a dark room and if possible, take a short nap;
A ‘Stay Well’ approach to prevent migraine is to plan a consistent routine in your life and follow it religiously. Once you have decided, begin your actions with gradual modifications in your lifestyle and prevent migraine.