Danette C. Taylor, DO, MS, FACN
Dr. Taylor has a passion for treating patients as individuals. In practice since 1994, she has a wide range of experience in treating patients with many types of movement disorders and dementias. In addition to patient care, she is actively involved in the training of residents and medical students, and has been both primary and secondary investigator in numerous research studies through the years. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine (Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology). She graduated with a BS degree from Alma College, and an MS (biomechanics) from Michigan State University. She received her medical degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Her internship and residency were completed at Botsford General Hospital. Additionally, she completed a fellowship in movement disorders with Dr. Peter LeWitt. She has been named a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychiatrists. She is board-certified in neurology by the American Osteopathic Board of Neurology and Psychiatry. She has authored several articles and lectured extensively; she continues to write questions for two national medical boards. Dr. Taylor is a member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Council (MSAC) of the Alzheimer's Association of Michigan, and is a reviewer for the journal Clinical Neuropharmacology.
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Migraine headache definition and facts
- What is a migraine headache?
- What is migraine with aura?
- What are migraine triggers?
- What are the signs and symptoms?
- What causes migraines?
- What are the risk factors?
- How can I tell if it's a migraine or a different type of headache?
- What are the treatments for migraine headaches?
- Migraine medications
- What remedies and lifestyle changes help manage and decrease the frequency of migraines?
- How are migraines managed during pregnancy?
- How are migraines managed in children?
- What is the prognosis for a person with migraines?
- Can the frequency of headaches be prevented?
- Headaches FAQs
- Find a local Neurologist in your town
What remedies and lifestyle changes help manage and decrease the frequency of 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:
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Guided imagery
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 drugs that are used to treat migraines during pregnancy. Acetaminophen is relatively safe when used in recommended doses. If a you are pregnant and are experiencing frequent headaches, there are some treatment alternatives that may be provided by your doctor or other health care professional. Many migraine medications, including the triptans, are not well studied in pregnancy so the potential benefits to the patient need to be weighed against the risks to the fetus before these medications are prescribed.
How are migraines managed in children?
Migraine headaches may occur in children. Treatment is similar to the treatment of migraines in adults, but drug dosages may need to be adjusted because of the smaller size of the patients.
- Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are often quite effect in controlling acute headaches.
- For more severe or refractory headaches, some of the triptans have been identified as being beneficial.
- If headaches occur frequently, daily medication may be warranted for prevention.
- Diet, regular sleep patterns, routine exercise, and biofeedback, are all potentially beneficial in decreasing the frequency and severity of migraines in children.
- Identification and avoidance of triggers through the use of a headache diary is a helpful tool.
Learn more about: ibuprofen
What is the prognosis for a person with migraines?
Most people who have migraines find that their headaches may be controlled with the preventive medications and lifestyle changes. Those with a diagnosis of migraine need to be aware of how their lifestyle may directly impact the frequency and severity of their headache. Controlling migraine triggers may provide substantial benefit. It has been identified that as patients get older, there may be a decrease in the frequency of this type of headache and they may disappear after a number of years.
Can the frequency of headaches be prevented?
If you are susceptible to migraine headaches you will always have some component of risk, but daily use of medications and avoiding triggers often are effective in preventing migraines.
"ICHD-II Classification: Parts 1–3: Primary, Secondary and Other." Cephalalgia 24 (2004): 23-136.
Lewis, D., et al. "Practice Parameter: pharmacological treatment of migraine headache in children and adolescents: report of the American Academy of Neurology Quality Standards Subcommittee and the Practice Committee of the Child Neurology Society. Neurology 63.12 (2004): 2215-2224.
Pringsheim, T., et al. "Prophylaxis of migraine headache." Canadian Medical Association Journal 182.7 (2010): E269-E276.
IHS Classification ICHD-3 Beta. "Migraine." 2016.
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