Migraine Research Foundation says, migraine is among the most common health issues across the world. It is found in children and adults both and can also be genetic at times. According to the research conducted by Migraine Research Foundation in America, almost 12% of Americans suffer from migraine headaches.
Migraine headaches are different from normal headaches as they are a neurological condition with various symptoms like vomiting, nausea, visual changes, numbness or tingling in the feet or hands, sensitivity to light, smell or sound.
Migraine is a chronic condition that can be very disturbing and hurtful impacting your daily life. People go for various solutions of migraines and its prevention. However, not everything suits everyone. Here are a few remedies that will help you understand how to get rid of migraine. We have also got you some treatments for migraine.
How to get rid of migraine?
Search for a calm environment
As soon as you realize a migraine attack, find a calm environment for relief. You can do this by:
Turning off the lights: migraine increases your sensitivity to sound and light. Rest in a dark and peaceful room. If you can, sleep for some time.
Drinking caffeinated drink: when consumed in small amount, caffeine can be a great reliever for migraine attacks, especially its early stages. It can also boost the pain-controlling effects of aspirin and acetaminophen.
However, too much caffeine can lead to normal headaches later.
Trying temperature therapy: Use cold or hot compresses on your neck and head. The numbing effect of ice packs helps in dulling the pain sensation. Using hot packs or heating pads can also relax the tensed muscles. Warm baths or showers can also create a similar effect.
Have a good sleep
Migraine might not allow you to sleep well or may even keep you up all night. But, poor sleep at night can also be a trigger of migraine.
Here’s how you can improve good sleep:
- Maintain regular hours of sleep: Maintain a proper time to wake up and sleep every day, not to mention the weekends. If you are used to daytime naps, keep it short. Sleeping more than half an hour in the day might disturb your night-time sleep.
- Control distractions: Your bedroom should be for comfortable sleep, do not watch television, use your phone or take work to bed. Switch on the fan to cut off distracting sound and close the door.
- Stop trying to sleep: Do not struggle to sleep. If you are not sleepy, indulge in some other activity until you feel drowsy.
- Try unwinding before bed: You can indulge in any activity that relaxes your mind to get better sleep like listening to calm music, reading your favorite book or a warm bath. Make sure you eat and drink before going to bed. Heavy meals, intense exercise, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine might disturb your sleep.
- Check your medicines: Medicines containing caffeine or some medication to reduce migraine may disturb your sleep.
Your eating habits play a significant role in influencing migraine attacks. You should have a healthy diet, like the ones you choose for weight loss (if you are on one). Consider the following things to make sure it doesn’t:
- Don’t skip meals: skipping meals or fasting can boost migraine risks.
- Maintain consistency: maintain the timings of your breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Maintain a food journal: maintain a record of foods that increases migraine. For example, if you notice alcohol, aged cheese, caffeine or chocolates trigger migraine attacks, spot consuming these and see the results.
Exercise every day
Daily physical activity releases specific chemicals that control pain signals to the brain, thus, helping you alleviate depression and anxiety, which worsens the condition.
Obesity can also be a reason behind regular migraine headaches. So, maintain a balanced weight by exercising regularly and maintaining a balanced healthy diet.
After consulting your doctor, choose a type of exercise to start with. Do something that you enjoy but take it slow. Walking, cycling and swimming can be good options to start.
Stress is one of the main reasons of migraines and we know it is not easy avoiding stress, but you can always try keeping it in control. Stress is also one of the main factors why woman experience migraines during pregnancy. How can you control stress? Keep reading.
- Simplify your lifestyle: Rather than stressing about squeezing in more activities to you daily chores, skip a few things not so important.
- Take a break: A quick walk or slow stretches can be a good way to relax when overwhelmed at home or work.
- Plan your day wisely: Keep your to-do list updated. See what you can cover in a day and divide your time likewise, both at work and at home.
- Check your attitude: See how you react to different situations and try being more positive about things. Instead of saying ‘I can’t do it’, say ‘It is difficult but I can make it happen’.
- Enjoy your company: You should find some time for yourself every day. DO something you like, reading a book, meeting a friend or just watching your favorite movie or TV show.
- Relax: Deep breathing is the best way to relax. Try the inhaling and exhaling technique deeply and slowly for a minimum of 10 minutes every day. It not only helps controlling migraine pain but also relaxes your muscles. When done, sit peacefully for a couple of minutes.
Maintain a dairy
Maintaining a dairy for your condition of migraine might help you realize the frequent triggers. Note your activities when the migraine pain starts, how long it lasted, what were you doing when it started and what provides relief.
Studies have inferred that detecting your migraine triggers help reducing the risk of sensitivity to potential triggers. You can use behavioral management techniques to cope with these triggers. It can be anything from challenging your negative thoughts to stress reduction to relaxation training sessions.
It is no less than a daily challenge for people suffering from migraines. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be great way to overcome it. You can take help from your friends and family.
In case you are feeling anxious or depressed, join a support group or sought for counseling. Have the self-confidence to control your pain.
Diagnosis of migraine
If you have a history of migraines in your family, an experienced doctor or neurologist will diagnose you keeping in mind your medical history, a neurological and physical examination and symptoms.
In case your condition is complex or unusual, a series of tests are performed to know the cause of your migraine headache which includes:
CT Scan: In CT scan, an array of X-rays are performed to create cross-sectional images of your brain which helps doctors diagnose infections, tumors, internal bleeding and brain damage. It can also help determining other problems that might result in migraines.
MRI: An MRI scan is a process of using radio waves and strong magnetic field to develop clear images of your brain and blood vessels. This test helps neurologists diagnose strokes, tumors, internal bleeding and neurological conditions that might be a reason for your migraine.
The motive of treating migraine is to control the symptoms and prevent future triggers. Though there is no permanent cure of the condition but continuing certain medications might keep your problem in check. The medication for migraine is divided into two different categories:
Preventive medications: Kinds of drugs taken every day to keep the frequency and severity of migraine under control.
Pain-relieving medications: Also popular as abortive or acute treatment, these are types of drugs developed to stop symptoms of migraine, relieving the pain.
The treatment you decide to go for depends on the frequency of your migraine attacks. Consider the added conditions like vomiting or nausea with your migraine headaches and any other medical condition you have.
Now, let us understand both the categories in detail.
Medication to reduce migraine pain should be taken at the initial sign of a migraine attack for best results. These are the types of medicines doctors prescribe for different levels of severity of the migraine pain:
- Pain relievers: these are prescription or over-the-counter pain relieving medicines like ibuprofen or aspirin. If taken for too long, these medications may cause increased headache due to medication overdose. Considering the worst side-effects or prolonged use of these medicines, you might suffer from bleeding in gastrointestinal tract and ulcers.
- In case of mild migraine pain, relief pain-killers can be a combination of aspirin, caffeine and acetaminophen.
- Dihydroergotamines (D.H.E. 45, Migranal): Available as a n injection or nasal spray, these medicines prove to be most effective when consumed within a short period of the initial migraine symptoms as migraines could even last for a day or two. However, it also has some side-effects like worsening your condition of nausea or vomiting (if you have).
- People with high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, or liver or kidney problems should not take dihydroergotamines.
- Triptans: Triptans are strictly prescription drugs like rizatriptan (Maxalt) and sumatriptan (Tosymra and Imitrex) that control migraine pain by blocking your brain pathways. You can take these in different ways such as nasal sprays, shots or pills. Patients at a risk of heart attack or stroke should not take this medication.
- Opioid medications: If your migraine symptoms and conditions don’t allow you taking other medications, narcotic opioid medication, mainly the ones with codeine can come to help. As they are very addictive, it is only prescribed when nothing works.
- Lasmiditan (Reyvow): This is a new type of oral medication to treat migraine with (or without) aura. During the drug trials, Lasmiditan improved pain symptoms and even sensitivity to sound and light and conditions like nausea. The medication might have a sedative effect causing dizziness. People prescribed limiditans should not drive or do any activities related to machinery for a minimum of eight hours. One should not consume it with alcohol or any other drugs as they depress the CNS (Central Nervous System).
- Anti-nausea drugs: These medications work best for people having the accompanied condition of vomiting and nausea with migraine pain. These drugs include metoclopramide or prochloperazine. It is usually taken along with pain medications.
For long-lasting, frequent and severe migraine attacks, neurologists prescribe preventive medications. It reduces the frequency and severity of your migraine headaches. Some of such medications include:
- Anti-depressants: A tricyclic anti-depressant like amitriptyline can help prevent migraines. But due to its side-effects such as weight gain and insomnia, doctors choose to prescribe other antidepressants.
- Botox injections: In some adults, injections of botox (onabotulinumtoxinA) every 3 months can act as a preventative medication.
- Anti-seizure drugs: Topiramate (Topamax) and Valproate (Depacon) might help reducing the frequency of your migraines but can also trigger side-effects such as weight changes, dizziness, nausea and some others.
- Blood-pressure controlling medications: this kind of medication includes propranolol (Innopran XL, Inderal and others) and metoprolol (Lopressor). Verapamil, a calcium channel blocker can be useful to prevent migraines with aura.
- Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) monoclonal antibodies: Erenumab-aooe (Aimovig), galcanezumab-gnlm (Emgality) and fremanezumab-vfrm (Ajovy) are not sold approved drugs by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to treat migraine headaches. These are medications given through an injection every month. Its most common side-effect is a reaction in the site of injection.
There are various types of counseling that can help prevent the conditions of migraine, such as:
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): In ACT, you should understand your condition and accept that you have migraine pain instead of running away and avoiding the problem. You make commitments to focus on your migraines and set goals in your life that helps you grow away from it. Once you do this, you can take necessary steps to achieve your goals.
Mindfulness-based therapy: ‘Mindfulness’ is a way of being aware of your body and mind, distracting all other thoughts coming up. As you practice this act of mindfulness, you will realize you can control your migraine pain quite easily. It also helps controlling your depression and anxiety.
You need to do nothing much but notice your emotions, thoughts and body sensations. You will still require medications as mindfulness is just an additional practice to maintain healthy lifestyle.