Migraines Really Suck. Here’s How to Deal.
After about 5000 migraines, I’ve got some tips to share.
Ouch! I had the worst migraine ever yesterday. This is something I’ve been dealing with since I was a little girl. I remember I had a really bad one when I was seven years old; I was in the back of my parents car, and I was puking in the backseat as we drove down the highway. Not fun! My poor mom was seriously freaked out, so we pulled over to the nearest pharmacy, where she bought out half the store in search for anything that would help make the pain go away. Unfortunately, none of it really helped. Over-the-counter meds aren’t very helpful once you’re in full-blown pain. For most people, once you get a migraine, there isn’t much you can do. It’s kinda like when you get a cold. You can only help by catching it in the first hour or two. After that, it’s down the rabbit hole…
That kind of pain makes you want to find any & every possible way to prevent it from ever happening again. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of homework on how to prevent and treat this nemesis. Hope you find these tips helpful, they’ve made a world of difference for me:
1) Learn your triggers: Everybody’s body chemistry is slightly different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation for what to cut out of your diet to eliminate your migraines. So the best thing to do is keep a journal where you record what you eat and when, what other factors in the day might contribute, how well you slept and when you went to bed, etc. Then use a big red marker and circle the stuff you wrote about what you ate, etc. for the three hours before you got a headache (if it’s morning, circle the night before). Then start looking for patterns. Once you see a pattern, try eliminating those from your diet/life. For some people it’s wine with sulfites, or chocolate, or staying up late… Once you figure it out, you should be able to avoid most of your migraines.
2) Magnesium: Research found that people with migraines are often deficient in magnesium. I’ve gotten far fewer migraines since I started taking this.
3) Drink lots of water: Plenty of migraines are triggered by dehydration. (I always have trouble with this one!)
4) Feverfew and Griffonia: These are herbal supplements (the best kind!) that are effective (for some people) at warding off migraines. You’ll have to take them daily for at least a couple of months to start to see a difference.
5) Meditation: A leading expert on migraines has listed meditation as one of his top two recommendations for migraine prevention. (I now meditate twice daily — on most days, that is.)
6) Omega 3 oils: A dose of these healthy fats can fight inflammation, which is a likely culprit in many headaches/migraines. Camelina oil is a great source.
1) Ice: Stick some ice in a zip-lock bag (or, better yet, buy two cold-packs with straps on them, so you can always have one that’s cold) and lean your head on it. It helps, I swear!
2) Medication: I’ve been prescribed crazy pills for my headaches and told that’s my only option (it’s not). Some worked brilliantly and some didn’t help in the slightest. Some made me feel sick and others made my brain feel all gooey. Check out the super scary list of potentially lifelong side-effects for drugs before you use them, and proceed with caution.
Keep in mind that for most migraine meds, taking half of a pill has exactly the same benefits as taking a full pill, but with less side effects. Try taking half and waiting a couple of hours to see if that’s all you need. It’ll be easier on your body in the long run.
3) Acupuncture: This one doesn’t work for me personally, but I’ve talked to many who swear it works. Can get pricey though…
4) Head rub: There may not be a body of research on this one, but a simple, light head rub sometimes helps me feel a little bit better. Then again, it might just be all the attention I’m getting from my hubby 😉
5) Caffeine: Coffee has been shown the help reduce the pain of a mild migraine once it’s begun, by narrowing the blood vessels. Plus, it’s a good excuse to send your boyfriend to Starbucks for you!
6) Celery Juice: I know this one sounds crazy, but sometimes when I have a migraine I skip the painkillers and instead make myself 16oz of cold-pressed celery juice. It usually gets rid of my headache pretty quickly.
My dad used to suffer from migraines too. Apparently, migraines are hereditary. However, in the last few years they’ve disappeared for him. They say that can happen as you age. Apparently, this is partly due to the fact that our brains shrink as we get older, so the brain is no longer so close to the side of your skull. Guess it’s one of the things I can look forward to about getting older! In the meantime, thanks for giving me such a big brain, Dad! :-/
Do you ever get migraines? Have any tips…?