Its National Migraine Month!

If you have ever suffered from a migraine headache, you know how trill and truly debilitating the pain and symptoms can be.

Nearly 30 million people in the United States have migraines, and three times as many women as men have them.

Migraines are pulsating headaches, often on one side of the head. Physical activity may intensify the pain, but symptoms can vary from person to person and from one attack to the next.
Migraine headaches are sometimes preceded by warning symptoms. Triggers include hormonal changes, certain foods and drinks, stress, and exercise.
Migraine headaches can cause throbbing in one particular area that can vary in intensity. Nausea and sensitivity to light and sound are also common symptoms.

I was diagnosed with my first migraine at the age of 5; I couldn't articulate my symptoms, but I knew I was in the worst pain I had ever experienced, so when my mom asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital - I quickly said YES! After a week in the hospital and a CAT scan and I an MRI later, they determined that I had experienced a migraine. Unfortunately, I've been dealing with them ever since!

As I got older, they got worse. I began to experience "aura" symptoms - such as tingling and numbness in my face and arms, seeing black dots, sensitivity to light and smell, nausea, vomiting and dizziness.Some patients have auras without a migraine-type headache or any headache at all. I've even been hospitalized as an adult due to migraines.

The Diamond Headache Center in Chicago asked me to cut caffeine from my diet, or significantly decrease my intake, in an effort to manage my migraines. I must admit, it has helped. However, occasionally I will still get a terrible migraine! So I have a list of tried-and-true go-tos!

1. Excedrin Migraine - this is the only medicine that I have found to give me total relief for my migraines. I've even had prescription meds and this works better and much quicker for me. The only problem is that it can't be taken on an empty stomach or it will make you nauseous. The catch is that the longer you hold off taking meds, the longer you have to suffer through the pain and once you reach a certain point in your migraines development, you have to just let it run its course. The work around is to try to take the excedrin with a protein shake or smoothie to coat your stomach.

2. Essential Oil - they make migraine sticks, which have peppermint oil in them. You apply it directly to your forehead, behind your neck and temples. You can get simple peppermint oil and I'm sure it will be equally helpful. 

3. Refrigerated Gel Eye Mask or Cold Compress - this is a huge help! I have an eye mask that I keep in the refrigerator so that its ready to go at all times if a migraine rears its ugly head. I put it on my eyes and apply pressure. I also like a cold compress for the back of my neck.

4. Eat A Frosty - or ice cream, or a snowball, or basically something frozen or really cold. It creates a brain freeze effect and soothes the throbbing I've found.

In addition to this main tips, do the usual- lie down in a cool/cold, dark and quiet space. cover your eyes and try to sleep. The key is to catch them early! At the first sign of a headache, I used to always take excedrin migraine so that it wouldn't escalate to the aura symptoms. 

If you suffer from migraines, what have you found to help prevent them or provide relief when you are experiencing them?

Loni SwainComment