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Facts and Tips About Migraines

The falling estrogen levels before menstruation is what usually triggers a migraine among women that causes severe head pain often accompanied by sensitivity to light, smells or sound. The common manifestations of a migraine is the one-sided “pounding” a headache, nausea, vomiting, eye pain, and sensitivity to light or sound. Migraine attacks are usually triggered by hormonal changes, stress, certain foods, oversleeping, and strong stimuli such as loud noises. Some types of birth control pills can trigger migraines, and various foods such as aged cheese, smoked meats, chocolate, dairy products, alcoholic beverages as well as artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate. Keep a headache diary if you’re unsure what triggers your headache so you are able to easily identify the cause in case you’ll experience a migraine attack.

The treatment for a migraine is usually over-the-counter (OTC) such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium, or prescription drugs like triptans. It is important to engage in regular exercise and balanced diet to reduce the frequency of your migraine attacks. As much as possible, avoid eating foods that are known to trigger your migraine. Meditation and relaxation strategies can also help prevent migraine attacks and reduce the severity of headache such as meditation, yoga, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation. Most people combine pharmacologic and lifestyle changes to manage their condition. On the other hand, some people really require prescription medications because their migraine attacks are too severe. How do we define the aura of a migraine? A migraine aura refers to a set of warning symptoms that the patient experiences before migraine attack such as a numbness involving one side of the body, blind spot in one eye or flashing lights. An aura may last for several minutes and it is resolved once the head pain starts or it may also last until a migraine is resolved. For people who have never experienced migraine aura, it can be frightening because it can mimic the signs and symptoms of a stroke.

Many women find their migraines are resolved during pregnancy because of high levels of estrogen during pregnancy. In order to prevent the risk of birth defects, it is important to discontinue any medication that was used prior to pregnancy. If you notice locking of your jaw, swollen or you’re grinding your teeth a lot, your migraine might be related to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder or TMJ, so you need to contact a TMJ specialist who will recommend effective exercises and routine changes to help in your condition. Generally, the best management treatment for a migraine is the combination of healthy diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, pharmacologic treatments, and avoiding triggering factors.