Yesterday, I woke up with a brutal migraine – first bad migraine in several months. I wound up sleeping most of the day and am still feeling that post-migraine “hangover” – which feels like a hangover from drinking too much booze.
Living with chronic migraines can be brutal – but what worked for me in learning how to care for migraines – was learning what my triggers are and to avoid those triggers.
But what about triggers you can’t avoid like weather changes or hormones? In this article, I’ll be sharing some of my secrets and tips for living with Chronic Migraine.
Most people get headaches – but not everyone suffers from migraines. To explain how I treat my migraines, let’s get into the difference between migraines and headaches. What makes a migraine – a migraine? And why do migraines require special treatments?
What are migraines?
A migraine is a recurring headache that can cause moderate to severe pain that feels like it is throbbing or pulsing. Most migraine sufferers complain of pain on one side of the forehead or behind the eyes. Unlike headaches which can be felt all over the head.
What are symptoms of migraines?
Symptoms of migraines vary from person to person. Some people see auras as a warning signal that a migraine is about to hit. People like me – don’t get these auras. If you wake up with a migraine, your day is pretty much a write off.
Symptoms of migraines may include:
- Sudden onset of pain on one side of the head or behind the eyes
- Feeling dizzy or like the room is spinning around you
- Nausea – this is the worst for me
- “Migraine Hangover” – the feeling of being hungover after the migraine is gone
What causes migraines?
A lot of things can cause a migraine which can make it difficult to determine what your triggers are. For me, what helped was keeping a migraine journal or diary noting the dates, times and what I ate on those days.
Here are some common causes for migraine sufferers:
- Stress and anxiety
- Lack of sleep
- Magnesium or iron deficiency
- Hormone changes
- Environment changes
- Irritants (smoke, dust)
- Strong smells
- Some medicines can cause migraines
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Malnutrition – skipping meals
I’ve tried a number of treatments over the years and finally found a regime that helps me. The number one treatment is to learn what your triggers are and avoid them.
When I was working, I was experiencing more than 15 migraines a month which resulted in a diagnosis of Chronic Migraines. My doctor and I determined that it was exposure to smoke from smudging in the office that caused the migraines. Since being at home – I’ve had a handful of migraines over the last ten months.
I tried a number of medications over the years including: Toradol, Maxalt, Advil, and a bunch of others I can’t remember off hand. But here is what works for me now:
Regular sleep – this is crucial. Getting at least six hours of uninterrupted sleep. I need to sleep in a dark and cool room – blackout curtains help for this relief.
Daily exercise – daily exercise and eating healthy helps me to sleep at night time. It’s also good for bone and joint health – and for weight loss.
Avoiding strong smells – avoiding things like smoke, or using strong chemicals can help to prevent migraines. For me, even the smell of gasoline can trigger an instant migraine.
Gravol – I take ginger gravol for the nausea when the migraines hit. Ginger tea or chamomile tea can also help.
Avoiding alcohol and reducing caffeine – I’ve cut back to just one or two cups of coffee during the day and always before 1 pm. If I drink it later in the day, I will have a hard time falling asleep.
The only booze I can stomach now is the odd glass of blush wine or rum. It seems everything else will result in a migraine the following day. For me – the booze just isn’t worth the pain and suffering. Drinking a lot of water after having a few drinks may help to fight of migraines.
Magnesium – I’ve started taking magnesium daily and this is helping. A double dose of vitamin D3 is also a must for me.
Medications – if caught early on – advil will work for my migraines. If not – then the only thing that will work is a shot up my nose – Zomig – which tastes and feels terrible. But it’s effective. Some Gravol for the nausea and sleep – and the migraine will fade within a few hours.
The Migraine Hangover
This is the worst part for me and I’m still feeling it today. If you’ve ever been hungover from drinking too much, you know what this will feel like. It’s like your head is fuzzy and feels “big”. You may have a hard time concentrating. There may still be a dull ache on the side of the head where your migraine was. You may feel tired and lethargic.
For me, it usually takes a couple of days for this to pass. I make sure to drink lots of water, get some fresh air, and go to bed before midnight. An afternoon nap can help but sometimes it makes it worse.
If you’re going through caffeine withdrawal and don’t want to drink coffee – try something like green or black tea instead.
I’ve had some alternative treatments over the years. Treating yourself to a nice massage or spa therapy can definitely help to reduce stress and anxiety. A head massage can help reduce the pain.
Sometimes a nice hot and relaxing bath with episom salts can do wonders. Just light some candles, turn off the bright bathroom light. Climb into the bath and close your eyes. Play some music in the background – some spa music. This is definitely my favorite way to relax and I miss my old tub.
Many migraine sufferers agree that blackout curtains and a quiet and cool room can be the best cure for bad migraines. You can get some affordable curtains on Amazon – I have a set of Nicetown curtains that do the trick. Another bonus is that they can block out heat in the summer time and cold in the winter time.
Let me know in the comments – do you suffer from migraines? What treatment work for you?
- The art of self-care for anxiety
- Self-care – be kind to yourself
- How anxiety can affect your health
- How anger can affect your health
- The importance of sleep and how to rest well
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