I have been struggling with migraines for years and while they will never be completely gone, I have learned a way to manage them. Hopefully, my tips and tricks will help you manage yours as well.
My particular migraines are migraines with auras. I recently found out that my mom, aunt, and sister all suffer from migraines with auras so it definitely runs in the family. If you are unfamiliar with migraines with auras and what the difference is, you can read more information here. I remember the first time I had a migraine with an aura, I thought I needed to eat and was about to pass out from low blood sugar. There is no way to treat the aura. It has to run its course which is around 20-45 minutes for me. The hardest part is not knowing when the aura will end. I see spots, squiggly lines and will loose my peripheral vision on my left or right side. I never drive when I have an aura and they are actually painless. I never know if I will get a migraine following the aura, sometimes it is just the aura and sometimes it is the signal that one is coming.
On average, I used to get about 2-3 migraines per month. I didn’t think it was that bad until I was at the doctor for my annual checkup. She offered to prescribe me medication to help manage the migraines but I really hate taking medicine unless absolutely necessary. I am down to a migraine maybe every three months thanks to preventative treatment which you can read below. A few minor changes in my daily routine have really changed the number of migraines I get.
If you can identify your triggers, it is the first step to preventing migraines.
My triggers include anything smoked (smoked fish/BBQ), strobe lights/bright lights (it causes an aura which leads to a migraine), strong perfume, red wine (I am doing better with this), changes in weather/pressure change, too much sleep (if I change my sleep pattern and sleep in on the weekend), and dehydration.
It seems like a lot, but honestly after knowing my triggers and avoiding them. I have fewer migraines.
I have been taking Excedrin for years and as long as I catch the migraine early, I will be good. If I am stubborn and wait, it will have to run its course and I will be sick until it is over. It does have caffeine in it, so just take note what time of day you take it. I keep a small bottle in every bag, even if I am going out for the night. It is better just to have it on me.
Sleep, Hydration, a cool dark room, a shower, caffeine, and fresh air are what help me the most.
I recently tried these cooling gel packs you can put on your neck and head that really help. They stay cool over a long period of time.
I downloaded the app Migraine Buddy at the beginning of the year which has really helped identify migraine triggers and map out how much time in between each attack.
The migraine hangover is real… I never knew this was an actual thing until a few years ago. Luckily, I am only getting a few major migraines a year but they will last more than a day from start to finish. It literally feels like I am hungover. My body hurts (especially parts of my head) it feels like I bumped it. I am very quiet which is the opposite of how I am normally. I am lethargic and smells are the worst. I am super sensitive to smells for 24-48 hours and anything and everything makes me feel sick.
Earlier this year, I started seeing Suzie for acupuncture for sleep. My sleep has improved, but also so have my migraines. Suzie really takes the time to listen to my health concerns and what is going on with my body before each session and tweaks my treatment. I have been so pleasantly surprised at how much you can treat with acupuncture.
When I asked Suzie for an explanation on why the acupuncture treatment helped she said, “my migraines are due to stagnant qi. She uses some points that move qi in the affected organs and meridian pathways, and others to stop the pain.” On average, we do around 14 needles from head to toe. I am not a big fan of needles and I am surprised how well I handle the treatment. I rest for 20 minutes with the needles and will sometimes fall asleep for part of the time. There is a tiny prick with each needle, depending on the placement, some I can feel more than others.
If you are in Chicago, you can contact Suzie for an acupuncture consultation and treatment session. If you suffer from more than 2 migraines a month, she recommends weekly treatment sessions to get you on a regular preventative cycle. If you suffer from less than 2 migraines a month, you can schedule a monthly session for migraine management.
Another preventative treatment that has really helped with migraines is taking a magnesium supplement before bed. This helps with sleep too! So it is a win-win. I found a magnesium/B6 pill at a Paris Pharmacie for less than 10 euros for 45 days. I stock up whenever I am in Paris. You can easily find magnesium at your local pharmacy. You can read more about the magnesium and migraine connection here.
If you have treatments that work best for you. Please comment below and share with other readers.