Given that the month of June is National Migraine Awareness Month, now would seem to be an appropriate time to consider some ways to cope with these headaches. In Marysville and elsewhere in the U.S., there are approximately 38 million people troubled by these ultra-strong headaches, with the majority of victims being female. If you happen to be a senior home care professional, and your charge is bothered by migraines, it would be very helpful for you to know some of the best ways to help manage them. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most effective ways of coping with migraines, so you or your patient can minimize the frequency and severity of them when they strike.
Learn about migraine triggers
Migraines are generally triggered by specific events, and these triggers are different for everyone who suffers from migraine headaches. This being the case, treatment must also be tailored to the individual, because what works for one patient may be completely ineffective for another. The New York Headache Center tells us that only about 25% of all migraine patients actually receive the kind of treatment that will work on their specific type of migraine. It usually requires some amount of trial and error before the right treatment can be hit upon. The best way to zero in on your personal triggers is to keep a running diary in which you record the kinds of foods you eat, the activities you’ve been doing, specific smells you’re exposed to, sleeping habits, and any changes in the weather. Over a period of time, you should notice a correlation between one or more of these events and the onset of a migraine. Once you have an understanding of your triggers, it will be much easier to develop a program of treatment. You can also stave off future migraine attacks by avoiding those triggers that seem to cause the majority of your migraines.
Educate yourself on treatments
These days, there are many different kinds of treatment available for migraine sufferers. The most obvious of course, would be various types of medication. While ordinary headache pills generally will not relieve the pain of a migraine, there are some medications that are much more effective in combating the symptoms. Some over-the-counter migraine medications can be effective, and there are also some prescription medications such as sumatriptan that are successful in treating migraines. In the case of sumatriptan, it constricts blood vessels and blocks pain signals that would ordinarily be sent to the brain, thus preventing the patient from feeling the worst symptoms. Some ergotamine-based drugs can be quite effective when taken with coffee, to prevent the expansion of blood vessels in the brain, thereby bypassing the worst effects of a migraine. There are some more exotic forms of treatment available now as well, and these will be discussed below.
Use preventive therapies
The best approach to dealing with migraines is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Some medications are often prescribed by doctors because they’re good at managing high blood pressure, seizures, or depression. These kinds of medication must be taken daily, rather than just when you feel an attack coming on, or when a headache is already in progress. The idea is that by taking them regularly, migraines can be prevented entirely, or at least for the most part. There is now a relatively new form of treatment available, called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) monoclonal antibodies. The net effect of this kind of medication is that it can block the protein that causes brain inflammation and often triggers migraines in patients. This medication must be administered as an injection once each month and has proven to be effective on both chronic migraines and episodic migraines. About 20% of patients getting these injections have their migraines eliminated completely, while the medication is partially successful for practically all other migraine patients.
Consider unusual options
You might be surprised to learn that yoga can be effective in the treatment of migraine headaches. A major study conducted by the Headache magazine found that the frequency and intensity of migraines were decreased for many patients who regularly practiced yoga. There are also a number of herbs and supplements that can make a big difference in how often and how intense your migraines will be. Vitamin B2 for instance, has been demonstrated to be effective in lowering the frequency of migraine attacks. Another study focused on taking magnesium regularly and this accounted for a 40% reduction in the number of attacks suffered by migraine patients. More exotic options such as cognitive-behavioral therapy have also produced noteworthy good results in reducing the number and intensity of attacks. This approach is successful because it addresses lifestyle changes like sleeping habits, stressful incidents, and mood changes that may be triggers for migraines. One more modern form of treatment is electrical nerve stimulation. This treatment targets the trigeminal nerve, which is the principal nerve involved when a migraine is in progress. The actual stimulation is delivered by an electrode placed on the patient’s forehead for about 20 minutes each day to prevent migraines. Clearly, there are a number of treatments for migraines that can be tried. However, the real trick is to find which one works best for your circumstances and helps you avoid debilitating migraine episodes.