- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
The Most Common Controllable Migraine Triggers
Migraines - Types, Symptoms, Triggers, Treatments.
There are two types of migraine, the classic and the common. About fifteen percent of migraine suffers will have classic migraines. These are unusual in that the sufferer is warned of the onset of a migraine by the appearance of an aura. Appearing about ten to thirty minutes before actual pain strikes, the aura manifests itself with a combination of unusual sensations. These sensations may include any or all of the following; double or blurred vision, flashing or zigzagging colored lights, and numbness or tingling in the limbs. The common migraine is similar to the classic but is not preceded by an aura. Common migraines usually begin with one or more of the following symptoms, such as thirst, drowsiness, depression or irritability, a craving for sweets, and a feeling of great energy and enthusiasm.
A migraine, of any type, is not just another headache. A migraine may last from several hours to several days or longer. Migraines cause severe, debilitating pain as well as nausea and vomiting. While suffering from a genuine migraine, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a sufferer to function normally. Often the pain is only on one side of the head and may throb and pulsate. Even dim light may be intolerable and noise may seem deafening. Any physical activity often intensifies the pain. Some individuals suffer only the occasional migraine, but some may have as many as one each week, and possibly more. Migraines often, but not always run in families and are much more common in women than in men. Although children can suffer migraines, true migraines usually appear for the first time in young adulthood.
The exact cause of migraines is not totally understood but it seems certain that a change in blood flow in the brain is one of the key elements of a migraine. There is some indication that a malfunction in the nervous system causes migraines. This malfunction may be caused by an imbalances in brain chemicals. Research into causes, and possible cures, for migraines is ongoing.
Although the exact cause of migraines is unknown, we do know that some elements and conditions do trigger attacks. Some of these triggers are beyond our control, while other can be managed, and still others totally eliminated.
Triggers beyond our control include, changes in weather, season, barometric pressure and altitude. Unless you are willing to change the location in which you reside, these are triggers that you will just have to tolerate.
Triggers that can be managed include stress, some drugs, odors, (such as, perfumes, flowers, paints, varnishes etc.), sleep patterns, physical exertion, cigarette smoke, bright or pulsating artificial light, and sun glare. It is clear that changes in lifestyle and simple avoidance could eliminate some if not all of these triggers.
Triggers that you can avoid completely are food and food additives. These are many but the most common are; aged cheeses, chocolate, caffeine, alcohols, marinated and pickled foods, aged and processed meats, dairy products, and additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame.
Triggers are not the same for everyone. You may have few or many triggers. Before you can manage or eliminate your specific triggers, you must learn what they are. To do this you will have to keep a migraine diary. This will help you manage, if not eliminate, your migraines. It will also help your physician better prescribe for you, if medication is necessary, as it often is.
Your migraine diary must be thorough and specific. It must include what food you eat, and at what time, as well as your state of mind for that day, and any activities in which you take part. You must also include the exact time of any migraine attack. Even if you cannot totally eliminate a trigger, you may be able to lessen its effect. Since stress is a powerful trigger for migraines, try to manage this so it does not make other triggers worse.
Once you have a good idea of what your triggers are, it is up to you to eliminate or manage them. If you have done all you can, and are still suffering, it is imperative that you visit your physician for help, immediately. Come armed with your diary and an organized list of all your triggers. There are some excellent medications available that will help you. The medication prescribed will depend on your migraine pattern, as well as your general health, and other medications you may be taking.
There are two types of drugs that will help migraine sufferers; those that prevent migraines from occurring and those that will stop a migraine, that has already begun. Generally the drugs that prevent migraines are prescribed for those who cannot find relief from pain medication, and those who suffer migraines several times each month.
There are many additional options for migraine sufferers, instead of, or in addition to medication. Consult your physician to assist you in deciding what options may help. Options include; botox, rest in a dark room, applications of ice to the affected area, relaxation techniques, yoga, acupuncture, biofeedback, massage, chiropractics and dietary supplements.
Never suffer in silence. Migraines may not be totally curable but they are definitely manageable. With help, your life can improve.