Sometimes you’ll know when it’s coming, and sometimes it seems to come out of nowhere. Either way, you’re left essentially debilitated, with a throbbing headache, upset stomach, sensitivity to light, blurred vision and dizziness. If you’re lucky, all of this will last for only a few agonizing hours; if you’re not, it could be days.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, you’ve experienced a migraine. Maybe you’ve had bad headaches before that didn’t come with all these symptoms, but were devastating nevertheless. Or perhaps you’ve struggled with chronic headaches that constantly plague you, not necessarily leaving you incapacitated but still negatively impacting your quality of life. Whatever the nature of your headaches, they can be seriously distressing.
The good news is that headaches that happen regularly are not generally a sign of something more sinister (such as a brain tumor). If you experience any sort of extremely severe headache when you are not usually headache prone, seek medical attention immediately. If your headaches are more chronic, you can still see a doctor to help manage your symptoms and find ways to improve your quality of lifeit’s just not as urgent to visit the hospital right away. In the meantime, here are some tips for managing your headache pain.
1. Avoid Triggers
Headaches tend to have some sort of triggers associated with them. For some people it’s caffeine, for others it’s bright lights, and for you it might be something completely different. The best way to find your triggers is to keep a headache journal, where you can record your activities, food and drink consumption, and headache symptoms. This will help both you and your doctor find patterns and causes, which will in turn help you reduce the frequency of your headaches.
Stress is another common trigger for bad headaches. Activities like yoga and meditation can help you avoid being consumed by the stress of daily life. If you feel particularly overwhelmed, it might be a good idea to contact a therapist who can help you manage your anxiety. Another great way to combat stress is regular exercise, so don’t hesitate get those endorphins flowing.
3. Know Your Needs
Once you’ve experienced a few bad headaches, you’ll know your needs pretty well. For many migraine sufferers, curling up in a dark room with no external stimuli is the only way to find relief. Perhaps sitting out in the sun or going for a walk is what helps you. Whatever your needs, do not hesitate to fulfill them when a headache strikes.
5. Alternative Remedies (feverfew, magnesium, riboflavin)
Various herbs and vitamins have been shown to be helpful in migraine treatment and prevention. Studies have found that feverfew, a plant native to southeastern Europe, can be highly effective in reducing the frequency and severity of migraines . Taking magnesium and riboflavin supplements can also reduce migraine symptoms. Acupuncture has been shown to reduce headache pain as well. Before delving into any alternative treatment plan, it’s best to discuss it with your doctor.
Young Lee is a writer from Northern California who has battled many a ferocious headache over the years.