Ever sensed a sharp and stabbing pain on one side of your head? Then, meet Migraine – a debilitating neurological condition. But fear not! You are not alone. Across the globe, millions of individuals, primarily adults and teenagers are grappling with this condition. Shockingly, one in every five women and one in every 15 men are reported to have migraines in their lives.
What Is A Migraine?
It is often mistaken for a headache, but far more complex than the average one. And, the headache is one of those niggling health characteristics of it. It also comes with some other distressing symptoms that only the sufferers can truly understand. Let’s just explore a bit.
The Low-Down On Migraine
Given it is not just a normal headache, Migraine is caused by a type of pain, namely trigeminal neuralgia. It can be either on one side (unilateral) or a different part of the head. Either way, the pain could be somewhere between moderate and severe and can last up to 4 hours to several days.
Sometimes, (but not always) it will be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, tiredness, and sensitivity to external stimuli such as light, fragrance, sound, etc. Although, these symptoms, intensity and frequency vary from person to person. Anyhow, a sufferer has to face a multi-faceted challenge when they have a migraine attack. It can be an interference in their life, questioning their productivity and focus on their life.
Behind The Scenes Of Migraine
No solid research is there to pinpoint the root cause of the migraine. However, experts believe two factors for this migraine.
The first theory suggests that low levels of brain chemicals, especially serotonin, cause migraines. When you run low on serotonin, the blood vessels in the brain will contract, and trigger ‘aura’ – warning symptoms like food cravings, lack of focus, unsteadiness, mental fog, mood swings, and muscle pains. Visual discomforts like blind spots, zigzag patterns, or flashing lights also join the party. Eventually, the narrowed blood vessels will dilate, leading to pain in the head behind the eyes. Another understanding points out the neurotransmitters as a potential trigger for this attack.
Although the reasons are anonymous, one thing’s for sure: some factors act as a trigger for migraine. The trigger might include some foods like cheese or salty delights, fasting/meal skipping, tiredness, strenuous physical activities, shifts in the weather, poor posture, hormonal changes, menstruation, and sensory stimuli like sound, light, and sun glare.
How To Prevent Migraine?
With the reasons being unknown, there is no cure for Migraine. The only solution for now relies on proper medication and treatment. However, it is just the tip of the iceberg. A holistic approach must be adopted to keep it at bay.
So here are some ways you can help yourself to cope with migraine:
Pen Down The Triggers:
In attempting to prevent migraine, you need to identify the triggers. So, grab a diary, and jot them down in it, which could be useful for you at the time of diagnosis. When you put it on record, mention the time, place, environmental condition, number of occurrences, etc. By doing so, you can avoid such prompts in the future. Not only does this help you cope with migraine, but it also aids in tailoring the right treatment to your unique condition – a vital step in your journey to relief.
Tailor The Approach To Fit Your Trigger:
Once you come up with your triggers, it is time to look for a treatment based on that.
- If you find poor posture as the culprit, correct your posture by practising yoga, and pilates. In this, you can also get the assistance of a physiotherapist.
- For stress and depression, meditation, journaling, yoga, calm music, a leisurely walk, massage therapy, acupuncture, and practising self-care can unwind your mind. Not to mention, focus on the quality of the sleep too.
- If it is the foods you consume, say a resounding “No” to those foods. Also, try to include healthy and nutrition-rich options (avoiding the problematic ones). Avoid caffeine, alcohol, junk/processed foods, and other harmful stuff.
- Doing yoga and exercise is helpful, however for some patients, it can cause exercise intolerance. So go easy on the workouts, taking enough breaks and rest post-exercise.
- During extreme weather changes, be proactive in migraine prevention.
- Complementary and alternative medicines such as Acupuncture, Acupressure, Homeopathy, Chiropractic, Naturopathy, and Ti-Chi can also be helpful in relieving migraine pain, stress & tension, inducing serotonin and improving mood.
Though it is already mentioned, it is important to detail a bit of it. Medicines are the most common and handy treatment to relieve migraines. Some over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen, ketoconazole, or naproxen can help mitigate the pain. Nevertheless, individuals with severe pain or a later stage of it may not trace any shade of cure with those painkillers. It is also for pregnant/breastfeeding women, cardiac issues, and other complications.
Additionally, taking over-the-counter medicines is not recommended for long-term relief. Hence, it is advisable to consult a migraine specialist or neurologist. They will understand the root cause and potential triggers and suggest the best remedies. Sometimes, your physician will prescribe Beta Blockers – to relax blood vessels, Calcium channel blockers – to relax blood vessel constriction, Aspirin – to reduce inflammation & pain, and Antiepileptics and Tricyclic antidepressants to mitigate migraines.
Anyhow, Migraines can be completely preventable with holistic treatment and care. All you need is to have a clear understanding of migraines and your specific needs to keep them at bay.
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