Migraines affect many individuals. These headaches can be extremely painful, debilitating, and worrisome. But you don’t have to become a victim. You can take control of your lifestyle and various choices to work towards a reality with fewer migraines. By identifying triggers and exploring treatment options, you are one step closer to experiencing less disruption and more enjoyment.
Migraines can cause a varied range of symptoms. They are painful headaches, in most cases, but some people may experience “silent” migraines accompanied only by a visual aura or sensitivity to light and sound. Further, symptoms vary from person to person. Some of these symptoms include a pounding headache, nausea, and sensitivity to lights, but other symptoms can exist, too.
Visual problems can arise in the beginning of a migraine episode. After symptoms crop up and the migraine is in full swing, these headaches can stick around for up to three days. With this being said, it’s important that underlying triggers that cause these migraines can be identified.
Understanding Migraine Triggers
Triggers can range from food and drink intake to your physical environment. It’s crucial to identify which elements in your daily life may be impacting the frequency of migraines. In fact, many factors play a role more than one might think. If you suffer from migraines, some common triggers should be avoided. More holistic methods challenge you to consider the effects of diet, physical environment, stress, and even hormones on your headaches.
The first trigger may seem obvious, but what we eat and drink can impact migraine occurrence. In fact, diet is reported as one of the most common triggers. Caffeine consumption, alcohol consumption, and even artificial sweetener consumption can trigger a migraine. Dehydration can also make you more likely to experience a migraine. Foods like chocolate, cheese, spicy dishes, or processed products can also be problematic for migraine sufferers.
- Physical Environment
Your surroundings can impact migraine likelihood as well. Your physical environment can carry loaded triggers. These can range from odors, lighting, or the weather. Strong scents can be nauseating for the typical headache, but with migraines, it’s a whole new ball game. Strong perfumes and colognes can be especially troublesome for people who suffer from migraines. Fluorescent lighting, direct sunlight, and pulsing lights can also trigger an episode. These sources of light obviously vary, but many report light being a factor. Last but not least, the weather can be a trigger. Otherwise undetectable changes in pressure or temperature can be enough to trigger a debilitating headache.
Any amount of anxiety is not necessarily welcomed by most. This same stress and anxiety and stress can, in fact, exacerbate migraines. When we are stressed, it can be hard to get enough sleep at night. Not getting enough sleep is another potential trigger for migraines. These two go hand-in-hand, so it’s vital that stress be managed effectively to ensure a rested state for day time and sleep. Stress can also affect so many other parts of the body — so eliminating it as much as possible is recommended.
Women especially experience hormone fluctuations due to their menstrual cycle. These hormonal fluctuations can create a migraine storm for frequent sufferers. In fact, women are far more likely to experience migraines than men as a result. But of course, stress plays a factor here too, as cortisol (the stress hormone) can be enough to trigger a migraine. Be aware of this trigger and you may have a large clue as to a point in time where you may experience a higher likelihood of developing migraines.
Treatment for Migraines
Working towards identifying triggers and implementing treatment strategies is the a leap in helping to lessen your migraines.
Keep a Diary: Triggers can range from diets to lifestyle choices. These triggers play a role in the frequency of migraines. In the sense of what exactly is causing your migraines, it’s hard to say. There are common incidents which can work to trigger migraines. Sources suggest keeping a diary so you can track when migraines occur. By evaluating the time and exposure prior to the migraine incident, it may lead to insight as to what may be triggering your episodes. If you notice a trend between days where the migraines occur, you can try to eliminate the commonality. For example, if you notice that you had much more caffeine on certain days that migraines occur, it would be wise to eliminate or watch your caffeine intake to prevent future episodes.
Try Medications: Over-the-counter medications are another treatment option. Medication can help to ease the pain that comes with migraines. These are a quick fix to help eliminate physical pain, but they do not work to stop the recurrence of migraines. If the over the counter medications do not work, you can reach out to your doctor for a treatment. There is the possibility of a different medication to alleviate the pain.
Change Your Environment: To protect you from the triggers present in your physical environment, you can implement and try out different strategies. For example, if light is a problem, sunglasses may help limit the effects. Another tool to try is blue-light blocking glasses if computer screens cause stress to your eyes or serve as a trigger. As for strong scents, it can be difficult to avoid such spaces at times, but getting some fresh air could help to alleviate the odor.
Switch Up Your Diet: When it comes to diet, make healthy food choices and remain very hydrated. Try to eat foods that are good for your body and attempt to keep your caffeine intake lower. Having a regular, scheduled eating pattern also can help to stop long bouts of eating or overeating which can avoid inducing this trigger.
Explore Home Remedies: The natural route is one many prefer. If this is in your wheelhouse, there are many home remedies that may offer relief. Using ice or cool compresses for your head and neck may reduce symptoms. Some users report lying in a dark, quiet room can offer relief as well. Exercising can help to manage stress more effectively and it can also help regulate migraines.
Consider Botox: Botox may seem like an odd addition to help treat migraines, but it holds promise in helping migraine sufferers. Botox results normally last around three to six months, so it can provide a longer-term solution by blocking neurotransmitters that may carry pain. Botox has been found to cut down the experience of these headaches by 70% after five rounds of treatment, according to some sources. For long-time sufferers, Botox is a serious treatment that can have lasting treatment potential.
Overall, it’s important to discuss with your doctor any treatments or underlying conditions that may contribute to your migraine episodes. This way, you can officially identify whether you’re experiencing migraines and learn how to move forward with effective lifestyle changes or other courses of treatment.