11 ways to prevent migraines and 10 ways to treat it
For those who suffer from migraine headaches, it is more than just a headache. It can cause extreme head pain, nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. In short it can ruin your day and then some. It is important to learn how to treat or even better to prevent these headaches. Medication is a proven way to treat and prevent migraines however there are other ways as well.
The same lifestyle choices that promote good health can also reduce the frequency and severity of your migraines.
Take a few simple steps to help prevent migraines before they start:
- Avoid foods that can trigger migraines: foods such as aged cheese, chocolate, caffeine or alcohol especially red wine, foods with nitrates including hot dogs, deli meats, bacon, and sausage, and cultured dairy such as yogurt and sour cream — has been shown to trigger migraines. Eliminate it from your diet to see what happens.
- Don’t skip meals: Fasting increases the risk of getting a migraine attack. Try to be consistent on the time you eat each day.
- Exercise: During physical activity, your body releases certain chemicals that block pain signals to your brain called endorphins. These chemicals also help alleviate anxiety and depression, which can make migraines worse. Even going for a walk can help. Start slow. Do something that you enjoy, but don’t overdo it.
- Relax and reduce stress: Stress and migraines often go hand in hand. You can’t avoid daily stress, but you can keep it under control to help manage your migraines. Take a deep breath. Deeply inhale and slowly exhale for 10 minutes. Find time to do something you enjoy for at least 15 minutes every day.
- Try to simplify your life: Easier said than done. Rather than looking for ways to squeeze more activities or chores into the day, find a way to leave some things out.
- Take a break.If you feel overwhelmed, a few slow stretches or a quick walk may renew your energy for the task at hand.
- Stay hydrated with water not soda.
If the above steps are not preventing your migraines, you can discuss with us these preventative treatment options below:
- Prescription preventative medications: blood pressure medications such as propranolol, metoprolol, or verapamil, antidepressants such as amitriptyline, anti-seizure medications such as valproate and topiramate.
- Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) monoclonal antibodies.Erenumab-aooe (Aimovig), fremanezumab-vfrm (Ajovy) and galcanezumab-gnlm (Emgality) are newer drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat migraines. There are injected monthly.
- Botox injections: If you meet the criteria, getting sets of Botox injections into the scalp every 12 weeks can prevent future migraines. We offer this treatment at our office.
- Occipital nerve block, sphenopalatine ganglion block, suboccipital compartment decompressive therapy: These can help reduce or eliminate future migraines if the migraine trigger is in the back of your neck. Many times, only one injection will be needed. Sometimes it does need to be repeated. At Southwest Pain Management, we offer all these options.
Knowing how to manage migraine pain with lifestyle and behavioral measures, as well as medication, can often be the most effective way to handle migraines.
If a migraine headache has started, try one of these treatment options below:
- Find a quiet, dark, and calm environment: At the first sign of a migraine, retreat from your usual activities if possible. Turn off the lights. Sleep if you can.
- Drink or eat something with caffeine.In small amounts, caffeine alone can relieve migraine pain in the early stages or enhance the pain-reducing effects of acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and aspirin. The key here is small amounts of caffeine. Be careful, however. Drinking too much caffeine or too often can lead to withdrawal headaches later. For some, caffeine can trigger a migraine.
- Try a heat or cold pack: Ice packs have a numbing effect, which may dull the sensation of pain. Hot packs and heating pads can relax tense muscles. Warm showers or baths may have a similar effect.
- Try essential lavender oil: According to one study, people who inhaled lavender oil during a migraine attack for 15 minutes had a faster recovery from a migraine.
- Ginger root: According to one study, ginger powder decreased migraine severity and duration as well as the prescription drug sumatriptan, and with fewer side effects.
If the above treatments do not work, you can try some of these below with a prescription:
- Over the counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or aspirin
- These are prescription drugs such as sumatriptan (Imitrex, Tosymra) and rizatriptan (Maxalt) are used for migraine because they block pain pathways in the brain.
- Lasmiditan (Reyvow).This new oral tablet is approved for the treatment of migraine. In drug trials, lasmiditan significantly improved pain as well as nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.
- Cefaly: this is a portable prescription only TENS unit for your forehead used to treat migraines.
- sTMS mini by eNeura: this is another prescription device that is placed on the back of the head that uses electromagnetic pulse to stop a migraine.
We can consult with you on how we can help you prevent migraine headaches.