Migraine: Simple Ways to Head off Pain

Migraine is a common health problem characterized by moderate to severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. Other symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound, often accompany it. The good news is that medications can help prevent migraines and relieve pain. Although medicine is proven to prevent and treat migraines, it is only part of the story. Your NY Neurology Associates healthcare provider recommends lifestyle changes and behavioral measures to help you cope with migraine pain when it strikes.

Get adequate sleep

It may be hard to fall or stay asleep when you have a severe throbbing headache. Getting a poor night’s sleep is also a trigger for migraines. The following are some tips to encourage sound sleep.

  • Unwind at the end of the day. Listen to soothing music, soak in a bath, or read a favorite book. These are relaxing activities that can promote better sleep. Avoid intense exercise and heavy meals before bedtime since they can interfere with sleep. Alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine also interfere with your sleep.
  • Stick to your sleeping schedule. It helps to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends. If you nap during the day, keep it short, not past 20 to 30 minutes. Napping for too long may interfere with nighttime sleep.
  • Reduce distractions. Do not watch TV or take work materials to bed; these distractions interfere with sleep.
  • Don’t try hard to sleep. If you can’t fall asleep, read or engage in any other quiet activity until you become drowsy. Trying so hard to sleep only makes you more awake.

Stay calm

At the first sign of a migraine, it is best to take a break, step from what you are doing and find a calm space. Because light and sound can worsen migraine pain, relax in a dark, quiet room and sleep if you can. You can also apply hot or cold compresses to your head or neck; ice packs have a numbing effect, while heating pads or hot packs can relax tense muscles. Warm baths or showers may also have a relaxing effect.

In small amounts, caffeine can help relieve the early stages of migraine pain. It may also enhance the pain-reducing effects of acetaminophen and aspirin. Therefore, sipping a caffeinated drink may help. However, be careful because too much caffeine can lead to withdrawal headaches later.

Eat wisely

Eating habits can influence your migraine, so you want to consider the following basics:

  • Have your meals at about the same time every day
  • Do not skip meals, as fasting increases the risk of migraines
  • Keep track of the foods you eat; this helps you find potential food triggers when you have migraines.
  • Avoid trigger foods. If you suspect a certain food, remove it from your diet and listen to your body. Foods that may trigger a migraine attack include chocolate, aged cheese, caffeine, and alcohol.

Living with migraines is a daily challenge, but healthy lifestyle choices can help. If you experience migraine attacks, visit your doctor at NY Neurology Associates for a customized treatment plan to improve your quality of life.

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