November 29, 2015
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Migraine (cont.)

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What self-care treatment and lifestyle changes work for migraines?

Individuals who experience migraines can play a significant role in managing their headache frequency and severity.

Keep track of when migraines occur by using a paper or digital headache diary or log to track pain levels, triggers, and symptoms. This can help identify patterns which precede a migraine, as well as help identify factors which contribute to the development of the headache. Once these contributing factors are known, lifestyle modifications can lessen their impact. These modifications may include:

  • Maintain a regular schedule for eating and sleeping
  • Avoid certain foods that might trigger a migraine
  • Keep well hydrated since dehydration has been identified as a migraine trigger for some people
  • Exercise regularly

Relaxation strategies and meditation also have been recognized as effective strategies to prevent migraines and decrease headache severity.

Exercise and migraine

Some people find that exercises that promote muscle relaxation can help manage the pain of migraines. Examples of types of mind-body exercises that can help encourage relaxation are:

  • Meditation
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Guided imagery
  • Yoga

Diet and Migraine

There is no specific diet for people with migraine that helps with symptom relief. However, as mentioned previously, certain foods can be triggers for migraines in susceptible people. These foods include:

  • red wines,
  • aged cheeses,
  • preservatives used in smoked meats (nitrates),
  • monosodium glutamate,
  • artificial sweeteners,
  • chocolate, and
  •  dairy products.

Alcoholic beverages can also trigger migraine in some people.

Understanding the particular triggers of your migraines and avoiding these dietary triggers may help some sufferers decrease the frequency of attacks.

How are migraines managed during pregnancy?

Many women find that their headaches stabilize or even resolve during pregnancy. This may be related to more consistent hormone levels that occur during pregnancy. To decrease the risk of birth defects, certain medications used to prevent migraines may need to be discontinued prior to a pregnancy.

There are limited studies of medications which are used to treat migraine headaches during pregnancy. Acetaminophen is relatively safe when used in recommended doses. If a patient is experiencing frequent headaches, there are some treatment alternatives that may be provided by the patient's health-care professional. Many migraine medications, including the triptans, are not well studied in pregnancy; the potential benefits to the patient need to be weighed against the risks to the fetus before these medications are prescribed.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/14/2015


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