Managing Migraines

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Misunderstood by those who don’t suffer from them, migraines can be more than just an irritating headache. For women who are plagued by this condition, migraines can be truly debilitating and get in the way of your life, work and general wellbeing. They can, however, be controlled, by looking at preventative measures, triggers and exploring treatment options.


  • Is it a migraine?

More severe than a normal headache, a migraine is characterized by pulsating, throbbing pain that effects daily activity, often accompanied by nausea or vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. The pain usually goes on from as little as 4 to as many as 72 hours, and may be preceded by an “aura”, which is a visual or sensory disturbance that warns of a coming migraine.


  • Start a migraine diary

If you can work out what’s causing these painful attacks, you may be able to stop it in its tracks. Start keeping a record of your migraines, and then have a look at what was going on at the time; were you stressed, dehydrated, hungry, or tired? Had you taken any particular medication or eaten a certain type of food within the past few hours? Were you due to get your period, or on it already? Identifying factors that might be contributing to your migraines can help you reduce their frequency.


  • Drug-free strategies

If you’ve identified particular triggers, then your migraines may be improved by getting more sleep, increasing your exercise and eating healthily and regularly. You can also focus on reducing your stress levels through relaxation techniques or managing your time and obligations better. Complementary therapies like acupuncture or massage may also be helpful.


  • Medication options

Your doctor should be able to talk through a variety of options for medication if your migraines have become a real problem and are not responding to lifestyle changes. Naproxen or ibuprofen may be helpful as over the counter medication options, and there are many prescription drugs that can work to prevent or treat migraine attacks.

Sarah Pinkerton

1 Comment to Managing Migraines

  1. After labouring over a migraine diary for months, logging everything I ate and drank, I’ve finally determined the right ‘prescription’: 7 hours of sleep, no more, no less; 1-2 cups of coffee, no more, no less; plenty of hydration. Unfortunately, I can’t always control their arrival: stress can trigger a migraine, sinus congestion or a change in atmospheric pressure can too. So I take a triptan–zolmitriptan or sumatriptan– right when I feel one coming on. The side effects are unpleasant (fatigue, dizziness, chest tightness) but they pass within a few hours whereas my migraines have sometimes lasted for 4 days!

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