Headaches are a real inconvenience for people and their everyday routines, but a small sector of people have the bad luck of suffering a different kind of headache; the worst kind of headache; we’re speaking of migraines. Migraines happen suddenly and unexpectedly and they can really hit a person hard with all sorts of symptoms that range from dizziness, nausea and eyesight problems. Even though the right medical treatment can help control the frequency of migraines, there’s still no guaranteed way to get rid of them completely. In spite of this, there are still several useful ways to handle and help prevent migraines before they’re about to “burst”.
1. Don’t Skip Meals and be Consistent With Eating Times
Every person that suffers from recurrent migraines knows that food plays an important role in their health. There are plenty of ingredients widely known as triggers for migraines such as; chocolate, cheese, aspartame found in artificial sweeteners, cured meats and histamine-based foods. Learn to identify which one of these (or maybe something different not listed her) triggers your migraine so you know to stay away from it. It’s also very important to eat every day at the same time to avoid decompensations and try not to skip meals. Some people even go as far as keeping a diet journal that links to their symptoms.
2. About your Personal Triggers
Just like there are some ingredients that trigger migraines easily, there can be all sorts of triggers in your daily life that cause your pain. Stress is a very well-known trigger for migraines, also hormone peaks caused by the menstrual cycle, some drastic changes in the weather and even exercising too vigorously. Now, most people recommend that you keep a journal of the times when the migraine happened – what were you doing, where were you, how long did the migraine last, etc.- so as you can learn your triggers and avoid them. Recent studies now suggest that staying clear of your triggers can actually make you hypersensitive to them, so you can also try to create resistance to your triggers.
3. Temperature Therapy
One of the best solutions for migraines is to try some temperature therapy. People who suffer constantly from these kind of headaches have found that applying heat or cold can be very useful to lower the pain. You can apply a cold compress (or an ice pack) on your forehead or on the back of your neck to detract the brain from the pain by stimulating other nerve endings. If the numbing effect of the cold compress doesn’t do anything for you, you can instead opt for a warm compress to relax the tense muscles around the head and neck. A good alternative is also a warm bath or shower.
4. Turn Off the Lights
This is probably the best-known remedy or action to take against migraines. Since migraines can make people extra sensitive to bright light and high sounds, it’s best to find a nice, quiet and dark room to rest as soon as the first symptoms appear. Being in the dark will help you relax and try to fade out the pain, and you can even try to sleep to release chemicals that ease the pain further.
5. Set a Sleeping Schedule
There’s something that links sleep with migraines, because a migraine episode can keep you from falling asleep or resting correctly, and a bad night’s sleep can promote a migraine. To set up a good sleeping schedule try to go to bed and wake up at the same hour every day, make sure you only use your bed to sleep and relax, engage in soothing and calm activities and don’t force your body to sleep if you’re not feeling tired. Instead, try to read a book or do a quiet activity until you feel drowsy.
Even though caffeine can be a very powerful trigger for migraines, for other people it can be just the opposite. In small amounts, caffeine can actually relieve migraine pain in its earliest stages.
7. Practice Mindful Meditation
Mindful meditation is so useful it can actually help ease pain caused by migraines. If you sit around quietly in a room and concentrate on your breathing, trying to let the migraine flow, it can eventually fade out. In several studies it was found that mindfulness can produce effects comparable to those of medication, especially on people with chronic migraines and medication overuse. Meditation is also an effective way to reduce tension and depression.
8. Keep Lavender Scent at Hand
Neurologists have researched the effects of lavender on patients with migraine and found great results. Smelling lavender oil scent for about 15 minutes right when a migraine starts can reduce greatly the pain and symptoms of migraines. You can also sip some lavender tea if you have it on hand.
Acupuncture has proven very useful in reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines without aura (migraines that don’t include visual disturbance or cognitive impairment). Acupuncture can only be done on a patient by a professional, but it’s a good alternative medicine approach to fight migraines without having to overuse medicines. This non-pharmaceutical approach is one of the most popular in recent years because of its long-term effects.
10. Take Dietary Supplements to Prevent Future Episodes
Last but not least, there’s a very creative way to prevent future migraine episodes without the heavy side effects prescribed medication usually has. Dietary supplements have the power of decreasing the chances of suffering from these type of headaches. Coenzyme Q10 has the ability to diminish the severity and frequency of migraine attacks, riboflavin and Vitamin B12 act as neuroprotective agents, magnesium can level blood pressure and aid in headaches, melatonin is widely used as an alternative to more aggressive preventive medications and butterbur could prevent migraines altogether. Dietary supplements may be a good way to try.
Some of these remedies have been around for ages as very successful ways to handle migraines, others are just in experimental phases but have shown great results on people who try them out. Either way we encourage you to start keeping track of your activities and meals and keep in mind everything you might need to treat your migraine as soon as the first symptoms appear. Be advised that these solutions don’t substitute professional medical attention.