Ways to help mitigate migraine headaches

08, Jun 2021

Migraine is a medical condition that includes severe, recurring, intense and throbbing headaches along with other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, nasal congestion, dizziness, flashing lights or sensitivity to light or sound.

There may be sensory changes known as an aura before a migraine kicks in.

A migraine headache is usually and generally felt on one side of the head. Migraines impact approximately 40 million people in the United States.

Currently, about 16 million migraine patients in the U.S. remain undiagnosed. In addition, approximately 400,000 Americans suffer from cluster headaches, which is one of the most painful diseases a person can have.

Triggering factors of a migraine attack include scents, reactions to food, seasonal changes, hormonal changes, emotional triggers, such as anxiety and depression; dietary factors, including alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, cheese, citrus fruits; medications, such as sleeping pills, and birth control pills; environmental factors, including flashing lights and flickering screens, strong odors, secondhand smoke, loud noises, stuffy rooms, temperature changes and bright lights.

Some other triggers may include tiredness, lack of sleep, poor posture, physical overexertion, low blood sugar, irregular mealtimes and dehydration.

It is essential to know the other different types of migraine.

  • Chronic migraines involve having an episode on more than 15 days per month.
  • Menstrual migraines occur in a pattern that follows the menstrual cycle.
  • Hemiplegic migraines cause temporary weakness on one side of the body.
  • Abdominal migraines involve migraine episodes linking with irregular function in the abdomen, often with nausea and mainly affecting children under 14 years of age.
  • Vestibular migraines cause severe vertigo.
  • Basilar migraine is a rare type that can affect neurological functions, such as speech.

A migraine episode usually occurs in stages and can vary in intensity, severity and duration.

Migraine headaches can steal precious time with friends and family. They also may interfere with your ability to enjoy life to the fullest and even impact your work or study.  But you sure can get help to regain control.

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Keeping a diary of symptoms for at least eight weeks can help you, and your doctor, identifies a migraine episode.

Record the time that symptoms start, possible triggers, such as stress or menstruation, the nature and duration of the headaches, any noticeable indicators of migraine, such as aura and any medications used, and the effect that you had.

There is no cure for migraines.

When lifestyle changes and avoiding triggering migraines are not enough, you have to seek help with further treatment options.

Certain over-the-counter pain relief medications like naproxen (Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil), and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can treat the symptoms and also reduce the frequency and severity of episodes.

Other options include triptans, such as sumatriptan, antiemetics, gepants, which block a protein involved in inflammation and pain called calcitonin gene-related peptide; ditans, which interact with 5-HT1F receptors on the sensory nerves.

It is important not to overuse medication so as to avoid rebound headaches. Your doctor can help you determine how much of each drug is safe and effective.

Some home remedies that help to relieve the symptoms of migraines include using cold packs, staying in a darkened, quiet room, sleeping when necessary.

Supplements like herbal extracts, magnesium, coenzyme 10 and riboflavin might help prevent migraines, although there is limited evidence about their mechanism of action. Other non-drug remedies may include acupuncture and physical therapy.

Prevention of migraine episodes involves reducing the frequency and severity of migraines by taking prescription drugs like topiramate, propranolol, antidepressant medications, Botox, and gepants.

Other new technological breakthroughs include Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block or even Spinal Cord Stimulators.

Consult your doctor if you are experiencing five or more migraine attacks, each with a duration of four hours to three days.

Migraines have a significant impact on daily lifestyle, making it difficult to work or perform regular daily activities.

Identifying triggers often helps reduce the frequency or severity of episodes, though it is not always possible to prevent them.

While there is no cure for migraines, we are in a renaissance of new treatments, therapies and approaches to managing them.

If you have been struggling from frequent disabling migraine attacks, now is the time to speak up, educate yourself and seek care.

June is National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month, an opportunity to raise awareness about migraine and other headache clusters.

Dr. Sue Mitra is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and accepting new patients. She can be reached at 321-622-6222 to evaluate and treat the headaches that you may be experiencing.


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