Effective Management for Migraine Headaches

For migraine sufferers, nothing is worse than the severe throbbing, pulsing, aching pain that accompanies the onset of a migraine headache. Migraine attacks can last for several hours or even days and the pain can be so severe that daily tasks are difficult to perform. While migraines are a destabilizing force, they can be treated with medication, lifestyle changes, or even homemade remedies to help alleviate pain or prevent attacks from occurring. If you are a migraine sufferer, here’s everything you need to know about effectively treating migraine attacks.

Migraines headaches are a form of headaches that many people suffer from. They differ from tension or cluster headaches by the severity of pain felt. While all headache pain can range from mild to severe, migraine headaches have an additional throbbing or pulsing like pain. People report that physical exertion (such as running or walking) during a migraine attack worsens the pain. Tension headache pain, in contrast, is associated with pressure or tightness around the head. Cluster headaches, by comparison, are described as a daily headache often caused by medication overuse. These occur less frequently than tension and migraine headaches. Additionally, there are different types of migraine headaches. For instance, migraine headaches with aura, such as blurred or spotty vision before the onset of a migraine attack is a neurological symptom of the migraine. A migraine without an aura lacks visual disturbance, but the pain is often just as intense. Other symptoms of migraine headaches include:

  • Sensitivity to sound, light, and smells
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Physical exertion worsens the pain
  • Pain is generally concentrated on one or both sides of the head
  • Blurred vision
  • Lightheadedness

Causes of migraine headaches

Doctor’s aren’t exactly certain what causes migraine headaches, but many believe that genetics, chemical imbalances in the brain and environmental factors may all contribute to the onset of migraine headaches:

1. Heredity
Research increasing shows a link between migraine headaches and family history. In fact, studies have indicated the migraine with aura might be a dominant genetic trait that passes down from generation to generation.

2. Serotonin
Serotonin levels may also play a heavy role in migraine headache attacks, as researchers have noted that serotonin levels decrease during an attack. In turn, the trigeminal nerve releases a substance called neuropeptides that travel to the meninges area of the brain causing pain.

3. Environment
Additionally, migraine headaches can be caused by triggers both environmental and biological. For instance, fluctuations in estrogen can trigger migraines in women. Often many women with a history of migraines reports suffering an attack days before or after their menstrual cycle. Other women may experience these migraines during pregnancy or shortly after.

4. Other common trigger
Other known triggers for migraine headaches include:

  • Alcohol
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Sensory overstimulation
  • Food or lack thereof
  • Sleeping patterns
  • Medication
  • Environmental Changes

Managing migraine headaches

Until fairly recently migraine pain relief was accomplished two ways: medication for migraines and avoiding migraine triggers. Now that researchers understand migraine attacks better, they suggest a few more ways to prevent and manage migraine pain. There are medications for migraine headaches, therapy options, and daily activities that migraine sufferers can do to either prevent migraines or alleviate the intense pain:

  • Lifestyle changes: Experts suggest creating a consistent daily schedule in order to limit stress and frustration and prevent the onset of a migraine. Be sure to include sleep and eating patterns as well to eliminate triggering a migraine from fatigue.
  • Exercise: Studies have shown that regular aerobic exercise reduces tension, alleviates stress and thus helps prevent migraines. Be sure to incorporate regular warmups so as not to trigger a migraine.
  • Behavioral therapy: A recent strategy called learning-to-cope (LTC) in combination with behavioral therapy may help prevent migraine headaches. This technique involves being gradually exposed to headache triggers in order to become desensitized to them.
  • Medication: There are a number of over-the-counter medications for migraine headaches that are easily available. One of the best ones, Excedrin can be found in any local drug store or pharmacy. While these medications won’t prevent migraine headaches, they are very useful in providing migraine pain relief.

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