More than 3 million people in the United States (alone!) suffer from migraines and more than 60% of people either don’t know the cause or don’t know prevention/cure methods exist.
What is a Migraine?
If you’ve had a Migraine, you’d know how painful and annoying it is to suffer with it.
A migraine is basically a throbbing ache in the head that lasts from 4 to even 72 hours long. Usually occurs on one side but for some people occurs on both sides as well.
It subsides on its own pretty quicker than others for certain lucky individuals yet for others (like me) , its pretty stubborn and doesn’t subside even with the use of painkillers.
Headache Vs Migraine
The difference between the two is pretty simple. Headaches last for shorter periods of time than migraines do. Migraines are mostly throbbing sensations of pain which mostly occur on one side of the head which worsen with light, sound or scents, while headaches usually are a pressured sensation of pain you feel usually at your forehead, temples, on top of your head or along the back of your neck.
Headaches may have basic symptoms like nausea and discomfort. Migraines on the other hand bring forward many symptoms along with pain such as nausea, vomiting, temporary vision loss/blur, Pain behind eye/ear/ along the neck, seeing spots or flashes with pain etc.
What are Migraine Triggers?
Many people who suffer from migraines do not know the cause behind it, hence not knowing how to treat it and end up swallowing a bunch of pain killers to relieve it, which in turn can damage their liver.
Migraines have various triggers such as:
- Hormonal changes in women : Between men and women, the gender that has the higher percentage of migraines is Women. Majorly because of the constant hormonal fluctuations they face throughout their lives.
Fluctuating levels of Esteogen especially before/during/after their menstrual cycle is a major trigger for migraines for most women.
- Beverages : Too much caffeine from coffee/tea, alcohol (especially wine) can cause migraines.
- Stress: one of the main reasons that cause migraines.
- Disturbances in Sleep cycle: Lacking enough sleep, too much sleep, and even jet lag can cause stress to the brain which in turn can trigger a migraine.
- Physical factors: Overly exerting your body in physical activity (Workout, Sex, Strain) can trigger migraines too!
- Weather Changes: We can thank global warming for this one. Sudden weather changes can also cause strain and eventually trigger them.
- Food: Processed food, excessive sugar, Artifical sweeteners, extremely cold/hot food/drinks taken suddenly etc can trigger migraines.
- Sensory Triggers: Never suddenly open curtains to expose the light outside/ Suddenly flash or expose someone to light if they suffer from migraines. Also, sudden noises, loud noise, strong scents that make them uncomfortable can cause migraines to trigger and even get worse!
- Aura- Some people even tend to get Auras (reversible symptoms of the nervous system) before they experience a migraine such as Visual phenomena (seeing bright flashes of light, shapes, or bright spots), Vision blur/loss, Sensations similar to pins and needles in arms and legs, Weakness or numbness on one side of the body or face, Difficulty speaking, Hearing noises or ringing, Uncontrollable and sudden movements.
My personal struggle with migraines...
Ever since being diagnosed with hypothyroidism and PCOS I have had to be on hormonal medication which in turn caused a lot of adverse effects. One of them being suffering from migraines. I still get them from time to time but they are not as bad as they used to be (thankfully, because the pain I used to have before was so unbearable that I could not get out of bed for days).
With time, and more in depth analysis of my conditions and proper treatment without hormonal medications, helped reduce the intensity and also the frequency of them.
Thanks to some friends and doctors who helped by giving me these helpful tips to try whenever I feel like a migraine is on its way, or when I actually start to have one.
Tips and Tricks...
Prevent a migraine from worsening by avoiding extreme or sudden light and sounds- I found that going out on a really sunny day without sunglasses and hearing loud noises that can cause the migraine to spike. I know that it may be difficult to avoid in certain situations, but its best to try at least.
If you are an avid caffeine drinker you'll probably hate this- but it makes your migraines worse. It makes it seem like they get better with that one shot of coffee or tea but in reality, the caffeine dehydrates you, and acts only as a temporary solution but later can increase the frequency at which they may occur or even the intensity.
Stay hydrated- Drink as many fluids as you can yo get as much as your body requires based on your BMI to balance out hydration levels. Which in turn helps with most bodily functions that improve resistance.
If you are into non-caffeinated teas or herbal teas or drinks go for it!- I have tried peppermint tea and butterfly pea tea to help with stress which in turn eases the situation of a migraine and also helps to prevent one from occurring due to stress. Having a cup right before bed helps too!
If you have the time and are resting- Apply some vicks or a few drops of peppermint oil on your temples and lie down in a room that is dark enough to ease your eyes for a while until it reduces.
yams, cranberries, bananas, watermelon, and very minimal amounts of dark chocolate can help!
Avoid taking pain killers or migraine medicines that have adverse effects- Excedrin migraine has been a helpful alternative for times in absolute need that can be taken lesser than the total amounts of pain killers taken to reduce that migraine.
Hope this helps!