Migraine is a chronic neurological condition characterized by persistent and frequent moderate to severe headaches accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, vomiting and increasing sensitivity to perceptual stimuli (light and sound).
Migraines constitute one of the most frequent complaints in doctor’s offices and emergency departments. The majority of persons who experience migraine are women. More than 90 per cent of patients have migraine tension that is a headache triggered by stress.
Migraine may be bilateral or unilateral and may occur with or without aura. In fact, 80 per cent of all migraines do not present aura. Aura is a perception disturbance that includes a variety of symptoms (strange light, smell, confusing experiences and thoughts) that people suffer before a migraine headache.
The mechanisms that underlie migraine are not well understood. It was thought that migraine headaches were produced as result of vasoconstriction and subsequent vasodilatation of the brain blood vessels that activate pain receptors in the brain.
However, recent findings indicate that migraine is a neurogenic disorder accompanied by vascular changes that are secondary to brain dysfunction. This observation explains the special sensitivity of certain brains to headaches. Other theories point toward the effect on brain pain receptors of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin as the main trigger of the headache.
The diagnosis of migraine is based on the symptoms of the patient. The treatment of migraine is based in acute and preventive interventions. Patients with frequent migraine headaches usually need acute and preventive interventions. Acute interventions are aimed to ameliorate the symptoms and to stop the evolution of the illness.
Preventive interventions need to be started in the absence of headache and are directed to moderate the occurrence and severity of migraine headaches. Preventive interventions improve not only the quality of life of patients but also the response of the symptoms of migraine to the regular therapy. In the following section it will be described 10 approaches to treat migraine.
Table of Contents
- 1. Evade Migraine Triggers
- 2. Avoid Certain Foods
- 3. Some Natural Treatments Can Quickly Improve The Symptoms Of Migraine
- 4. Several Health Conditions Can Initiate Or Worsen The Symptoms Of Migraine.
- 5. Minimize Visual And Auditory Stimulation During A Migraine Attack.
- 6. Use A Cool Compress On The back Of Your Neck In 5 to 10 Minute Intervals.
- 7. Frequent Exercise Has Been Demonstrated To Reduce Pain Intensity.
- 8. According To Several Studies Biofeedback Is An Alternative And Effective Treatment For Migraines.
- 9. Chiropractic, Massage, Acupressure And Acupuncture May Help To Reduce The Severity Of Headaches.
- 10. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction And Meditation Reduce Pain And Improve Health-Related Quality Of Life.
1. Evade Migraine Triggers
It is advisable to evade factors that can precipitate migraine attacks, including excessive or insufficient sleep, stress, smoking, exposure to bright or fluorescent lighting, strong smells (fragrances, perfumes, essences), head traumas, weather changes, infections, physical exertion or fatigue, motion sickness and cold stimulus (ice cream headaches).
2. Avoid Certain Foods
Common dietary triggers of headaches include alcohol (particularly wine and beer), coffee, chocolate, aspartame (NutraSweet), monosodium glutamate (commonly founded in Asian food, strong seasoning, preserved food, frozen or processed food), fruits (bananas, dried fruit, citrus fruits avocados), nuts (soy nuts, peanuts, soy sauce), tyramine (smoked or cured meat, sour cream, aged cheese, luncheon meat, deli meat, bacon sausage, peperoni, wine vinegar yogurt and some types of beans) and artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin).
3. Some Natural Treatments Can Quickly Improve The Symptoms Of Migraine
Vitamin B2, coenzyme Q-10, magnesium have shown to be effective. Butterbur is an herb that contains some properties that might help to prevent migraine headaches. Taking butterbur by mouth two times per day seems to reduce the number of headaches.
Butterbur can decrease the frequency of migraine in children (6-17 years old). The active ingredients of butterbur are petasin and isopetasin. However this plant should not be used during pregnancy because it may be harmful for your baby causing birth defects. There is not enough information about its safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
4. Several Health Conditions Can Initiate Or Worsen The Symptoms Of Migraine.
These conditions include the period before the menstruation, menopause, menstruation and pregnancy.
It is not possible to avoid these natural processes, but understanding their mechanisms may help you to reduce the stress and anxiety related with them and by doing so moderate the occurrence of headaches.
5. Minimize Visual And Auditory Stimulation During A Migraine Attack.
People are very sensitive to light and sound, resting and relaxing in a darkened and quiet room for several hours may help to reduce the intensity of migraine headaches.
6. Use A Cool Compress On The back Of Your Neck In 5 to 10 Minute Intervals.
This will help to ameliorate inflammation and relieve tension. You can use an ice pack, cold towel or frozen item.
7. Frequent Exercise Has Been Demonstrated To Reduce Pain Intensity.
Exercise helps to increase blood circulation allowing good oxygenation of body organs including the brain.
8. According To Several Studies Biofeedback Is An Alternative And Effective Treatment For Migraines.
Biofeedback makes you conscious of several physiological functions using accurate instruments that feedback information. The presentation of this information accompanied by changes in thinking, emotions and behavior support desired physiological changes that improve the symptoms of diseases including migraine.
9. Chiropractic, Massage, Acupressure And Acupuncture May Help To Reduce The Severity Of Headaches.
Chiropractors treat misalignments and subluxations within the spinal cord. Chiropractors believe that these problems affect the nervous system leading to migraine symptoms. This healing art is done by hand using adjunctive therapies such as heat, electric stimulation and ultrasound.
The application of neck massage therapy has been shown to be effective as a preventive treatment for migraine. It is advisable that these procedures are carried up by professionals.
Acupressure and acupuncture are forms of alternative medical approaches that may be useful to manage headache pain. The basis of acupuncture derives from the idea that health is the result of the equilibrium of one’s chi (the life force). In this context, migraine is provoked by disequilibrium of the body life force. Chi balance is achieved by the placement of sterile needles within certain body regions called meridians.
10. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction And Meditation Reduce Pain And Improve Health-Related Quality Of Life.
Some tension headaches are relieved if you move out from the situation that is causing you stress. Regular practice of yoga could also be beneficial for patients with migraine. Yoga diminishes the symptoms of migraine by keeping the nervous system relaxed.
There are several yoga techniques that can be performed to improve the symptoms of migraine including asanas and pranayama. It is better if all these procedures are performed with the help of professionals.
Health by choice, not by chance.