Migraine—What Can You Do About It?

By Unknown - September 10, 2017

Migraine Headache

 Joan, a vibrant office worker, looks intently at the document she holds. Parts of the page suddenly appear blank. Then, flashing pinpoints of light dance before her eyes, escalating into a surreal display of zigzag lines and bizarre geometric patterns. Within minutes, Joan can hardly see. Noticing the sudden changes in her body, she quickly swallows a tablet that is designed for just this sort of emergency.

Joan suffers from migraine, a condition that is different from a simple headache in several ways. For example, unlike random headaches, migraines follow a recurring pattern. Also, the condition is serious enough to make the person experiencing it to abandon normal activities.

According the migraine statistics, in the U.S., more than 37 million people suffer from migraines. Some migraine studies estimate that 13 percent of adults in the U.S. population have migraines, and 2-3 million migraine suffers are chronic.
  Women are affected by migraine more than men. Some cases are more severe than others, but most victims lose several days of work each year. Because migraine results in money loss and can affect family and social life adversely, the World Health Organization ranks it among the world's 20 leading causes of disability.

What are the symptoms of migraine? 

Migraine goes with pain in the head. The pain throbs and may affect only one side of the head. The person experiencing it may have nausea and unable to bear bright light. A migraine attack can last  from few hours to several days.

  Shortly before a migraine attack, some victims experience signs such as cold hands, fatigue, hunger, or mood changes. Then, just before the headache starts, there may be dizziness, a buzzing sound in the ears, a pins-and-needles sensation, double vision, speech difficulty, or muscle weakness.
What causes migraine?
Up till now, the causes of migraine are not completely understood, but it is thought to be a disorder of the nervous system that affects vessels carrying blood in the head. Blood going through irritated vessels in the head plainly characterises the throbbing nature of the pain.  Victims of migraines may likely be affected by irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety attacks, and depression.
 The journal Emergency Medicine talks about migraine: "Patients with migraine inherit a uniquely sensitive nervous system, which can be disrupted by numerous life events, such as sleep deprivation, strong odours, travelling, skipping meals, stress, and changes in hormone levels."

Treatment for migraine

Migraine is an inherited, disabling disease that can't be cured. Your doctor will work with you to help you manage your condition.

A variety of medications have been specifically designed to treat migraines. Also, some drugs  used to treat other conditions may also help relieve or prevent migraines. 

How can you relieve migraine?

Definitely, you can't change your nervous system. But you can do something about your migraine attack by;

Identifying triggers. Identifying triggers is not easy because several factors usually combine to produce an attack. For example, on one occasion you may eat pizza and not experience an attack, but at another time it gives you migraine, perhaps because of an additional contributing factor. But it's worth the effort. A change in caffeine consumption can trigger a migraine, so try limiting yourself to two cups of coffee or two cola drinks per day. Since hunger can provoke migraine, avoid skipping meals.

  Each person's case is different. Joan mentioned earlier, who has endured migraine attacks for more than 60 years, says that  oranges, pineapples and most especially, red wine stimulates a migraine attack immediately, so she avoids them."
  Another woman named Claudia found out that her migraine attacks matched her monthly cycle. She says that around mid-cycle, any excess activity, hard work, or stimulus such as heat or cold, loud noise, even spicy food—would bring on a migraine attack. So she aims for calm and moderation during this period."

Keeping a headache diary. You and your doctor can find out  what triggers your migraines. Noting when your headaches start, how long they last and what provides relief, is a good way to keep your condition in check. You can also record your response to any headache medications you take. 
Note things like foods you ate in the 24 hours preceding attacks, any unusual stress, and how you feel and what you're doing when headaches strike.

Get enough sleep. Aim for a regular sleep schedule and get an adequate amount of sleep. Experts recommend trying to maintain a regular pattern of sleep seven days a week. If you want to sleep later on the weekend, they recommend that you get up at the usual time, do something for a few minutes, and then return to bed.

Reduce stress. Because stress initiates migraine attacks for many people, try to avoid stressful situations, or use stress-reduction techniques like yoga and meditation. Listening to soft music may also help reduce stress.

Have you been coping with migraine for sometime? Feel free to relate your experience and what steps you've taken or plan to take to relieve your situation.

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