Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a debilitating situation for most patients as attacks of pain occur suddenly, triggered by normal day to day activities. So, some patients get scared to go out, socialize and to do work and sometimes severe pain interferes with day to day life and reduces the quality of life. Patients who underwent successful surgery also takes a long time to recover emotionally and socially. Even after surgery, some patients experience pain or recurrence and this frustration makes it more difficult to treat the patients afterward.
Lifestyle Changes For Trigeminal Neuralgia
Most patients with trigeminal neuralgia have chronic stress, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression compared to the normal population. Therefore, education about the disease, psychological therapy, and lifestyle changes are important to increase the quality of life. Some lifestyle changes might also improve the symptoms as well.
Dietary Changes: There is no specific diet you should follow and there are not many studies done on the dietary impact on trigeminal neuralgia, however, it is good to cut down food that stimulates the nervous system.
Food That Might Trigger Pain: The trigeminal nerve is accountable for most of the sensation in the face. Any significant change can trigger an attack. Food which is too hot, too cold, spicy, too sweet, or too sour can trigger trigeminal neuralgia. Sharper the sensation, more possibility for the food to trigger an attack. The triggering food can change from person to person for some people spices such as ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper and for some strong odor from food might trigger trigeminal neuralgia. Avoid fatty food, dairy, meat, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners as these can trigger trigeminal neuralgia. (3)
Food That Is Safe: There is some food that has never triggered any pain in anyone such as brown rice, cooked vegetables like beans, broccoli, sweet potatoes, lettuce, chard, spinach, collards; dried fruits such as cherries, pears, cranberries, and prunes. Fish oil and a low saturated fat diet are also supposed to be beneficial. Vitamin B12 is important for nerve health, food high with B12 are fortified cereals, fish, shellfish, and eggs. (2)
Make sure you ask your doctor about the specific food that you should eat and what you should avoid.
Regular Exercises: There is no limitation in doing exercises. Ask your doctor what exercises you should start and try exercises that are easy and comfortable. Try to do regular exercises as that helps your psychological and physical well-being.
Psychological Support: Your psychological support is very important as most of you must be worried, anxious and even depressed because of the pain and it might have interfered with your family and social life. Therefore, it’s important you talk to your family or friends about how you feel and about your worries. It’s important you tell your doctor about how you feel and your doctor might refer you for the cognitive behavioral therapy and/or prescribe medicine according to your condition.
Join A Support Group: A support group can really help with the emotional problems you have associated with trigeminal neuralgia. You will be able to share your experience and how you overcame it and even get tips from others on what to do to reduce the pain. You will get the chance to talk with people who had successful treatment for trigeminal neuralgia as well. (1) (4)
Most patients with trigeminal neuralgia have chronic stress, sleep disturbances, anxiety and depression therefore, psychological therapy and lifestyle changes are important to increase the quality of life. Some lifestyle changes might also improve the symptoms as well. Avoid food that can trigger trigeminal neuralgia such as food that is too sweet, spicy, sour, cold and hot. Avoid caffeine, cinnamon, black pepper, meat, dairy, fatty food, and artificial sweeteners as these can trigger trigeminal neuralgia. Do regular exercises and practice relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga. Psychological support is also really important. Talk with your family/friends and doctors about your issues and join a support group as these can address your psychological problems.
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