You’ve suddenly been overcome with the most shocking headache and now you know that you’ll be good for nothing as you writhe in pain for the next few days.
I used to think that migraines were for wimps, and then I started them. We were flying to Mexico City, two of my children and my new daughter-in-law (from there) … I was so excited to be on the trip, then the headache hit. Was it the altitude? Who knows … but it was the start of a problem that certainly humbled me. Over the last several years, I’ve learned that there are a great number of things to do to prevent the headaches from becoming full-blown if you catch them early.
If you learn what your personal triggers are, maybe you can prevent them completely! For me, keeping my neck in adjustment by a chiropractor is the most crucial thing for prevention.
Here’s some basic information on migraines:
Common migraine headaches are produced by dilation and increased pulsation of the arteries of the scalp and face. They’re usually caused by fatigue, stress and sometimes the let-down feeling you get after stressful times. They can come at night of during the day.
Here are some warning symptoms that should get you working proactively, immediately:
- mood change, i.e. inappropriate depression, irritability, or elation
- appetite changes, either cravings or inability to eat
- overactivity or lethargy
- fluid retention, e.g. swollen hands and or ankles
- blurring of vision or other unusual eye disturbances
Type and site of pain will be:
- throbbing, pulsating or aching
- worse on movement or when head is in a lowered position
- more often on one side (unilateral)
- can vary from side to side in different attacks
- may involve the face
Onset and Duration:
- it can take almost an hour to reach a peak
- lasts from a few hours to a few days
- if headache lasts longer than two days, see a doctor
- vague lightheadedness
- chilly sensation
- excessive urination
- nausea, or vomiting in extreme cases
Some of the most common migraine triggers to be aware of … know yours and avoid to reduce your attacks:
- sleep excess or sleep deprivation
- sinus problems – chronic sinus infections might be helped with the “friendly bacteria” lactobacillus acidophilus
- bright lights
- weather changes
- alcohol (red wine and other “colored” alcoholic drinks)
- meat (especially pork, ham, bacon, salami with nitrites)
- monosodium glutamate = msg
- coffee and tea
- dairy products (milk, cream, butter, cottage and cheddar cheese)
- fruit (bananas, plums, prunes, avocados, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit)
- vegetables (onions, tomatoes, pickles, spinach, fresh and dried beans)
- an overly-acidic diet can be a cause of magnesium deficiency and migraines
- fatty fried foods
- sea food
- bread, pastry and pasta
- licorice (candy or liqueur)
- chocolate (phenylethylamine content)
- note that many of these foods tend to elevate the blood pressure resulting in the headache.
What can you do about them?
I’m going to list the “standard” line and then some less doctor-driven ones:
- Avoid cigarette smoking (something to do with the blood vessels, I guess)
- Avoid excess alcoholic beverages, mood-altering, mind-altering, stimulant, or sedative drugs
- Make changes in your diet or activity level, if necessary to reach your ideal weight
- Confront and define any areas of conflict in your family life, occupational pursuits and civic, spiritual, or leisure time involvements. If you cannot resolve conflicts alone, ask for help from family, friends, or competent counselors.
- Be moderate in all your activities. Strive for a balanced life of work, recreation, reflection and rest.
- Try to be of good humor whenever possible. (Studies show that people who expect relief from their headache medication actually feel better than people who don’t expect it to work.)
- Seek and keep a positive outlook on life. A good attitude toward yourself and others is your most powerful ally.
- My personal favorite: keep your spine “tuned up” at the chiropractor’s. Slouching for hours on end can leave your body tense and stiff, leading to tension headaches … Pull your shoulders back when standing and hold your head high with abs and buttocks tight. Keep thighs parallel to the floor and be sure your head isn’t slumped forward when you’re sitting.
- Take 75 mg. of butterbur twice daily for four months – noted to decrease migraine attacks by almost half according to a recent study. Be sure to check with your doctor.
- Self-massage helps relieve the muscle tension behind tension headaches. Dim lights and with the pads of your fingers, gently press down and move the skin of your scalp back and forth. Do this to your neck and shoulders also.
- Try a topical pain reliever that won’t have the long-term damage to your liver and kidneys that pain killers do, like a “natural headache stick” type product, most likely found at your local health food store.
- Flax Seed as an anti-inflammatory can help lessen symptoms of depression and anxiety and give pain relief in only about 15 minutes – capsule or liquid – can be carried with you without refrigeration and taken AT THE BEGINNING of a headache.
- Drink your water!
- Tea Tree Oil can help headaches from sinus problems and anxiety – simply inhale the scent of pure tea tree oil and can work in seconds as it opens the sinuses (and can life the spirits also).
- Feverfew Leaf
- Sleep better with deep breathing techniques that will bring more oxygen to the brain to help relieve stress and anxiety. Try closing your eyes and breathe in deeply through your nose and exhale through your nose (keep moth closed). Visualize the headache fading away with each breath.
- I’m also using a stick-massage-roller on my neck, shoulder and back to relieve tension as a “do-it-yourself” prevention. You can get them on Amazon or such places online, or at a chiropractor office. They look like this:
So, you can see that there are very many things that you can do to help yourself to prevent the debilitating headaches without going for damaging over-the-counter or prescription medications that will only make matters very much worse.
Be sure to do your own investigating online … and be proactive before your next headache starts. You’re the only one who knows which one of the foods or activities might cause the headaches, and you’re the only one who’ll be able to feel it coming on.
Good luck! If you need any help with getting your diet under control with better food choices and one of the world’s best line of supplements, visit me at www.betterhealth-fast.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.