Chances are you or somebody you know has suffered from a migraine headache before. An estimated 37 million people in the United States – roughly the entire population of California – experience migraines regularly. They usually begin as a dull ache that quickly spirals into intense, pulsating pain. Migraines can last anywhere between a few hours and a few days and are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness and extreme sensitivity to light and sounds.
A life with migraines can be a struggle. But we have some good news for migraine sufferers. Mercy neurologists with experience treating migraines have five straightforward steps that can help you avoid migraines and get back to living your life to the fullest.
Catching enough zzzs is critical for keeping migraines at bay. A sleep-deprived week followed by a Saturday spent sleeping-in could have the potential to ruin your weekend with a headache. Dr. McCawley recommends staying in a routine by going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning.
Skipping meals can change hormones in your body, another migraine trigger. Don’t go more than six or seven hours without food and be sure to include protein, leafy greens and vegetables. For snacks, think string cheese, yogurt, trail mix with nuts and fruit, granola bars or protein bars.
If you can’t go without it, try limiting yourself to no more than 100-200 mLs a day. For example, a cup of coffee has about 100 mLs, soda has 60 and black tea has 30-40. Too much caffeine can not only bring on a migraine, but it can also make you have a migraine more often.
Drinking plenty of water decreases pain perception in your brain. If you get dehydrated, it can set off a migraine.
Aerobic activity has been shown to protect against migraines, so whether it’s power walking or weight lifting, your heart rate needs to be elevated for 30 minutes to get the full effect.
If you’re experiencing regular migraines, talk to your doctor who will want to understand the history of your headaches. It can be helpful if you keep a diary of headache times, triggers, medications used and how well they worked. While there is no cure for migraines, your doctor can help develop a strategy for prevention and treatment so that migraines don’t stop you from living your best life.
Get help alleviating your migraines from a Mercy neurologist.
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