How To Get Rid Of Stress Migraines
The methods of treating a stress migraine are the same as treating any other migraine. Bilchik says treatment options include:
- Over-the-counter pain meds such as Advil, Motrin, Tylenol, or Excedrin
- Prescription migraine medication like triptans, gepants, and ditans
- Anti-nausea medication – if you experience nausea and vomiting with your migraine
There are also non-medication related treatments for migraine which can help you feel some more comfort. Bilchik recommends:
- Being in a quiet room with reduced light and noise
- Applying ice to the head and temples
- Increasing hydration
The best way to prevent stress migraines will depend on the frequency of your migraines. If you have more than three to four migraines a month and they don’t respond to acute migraine medications, Bilchik says you may need long term preventive medications, which are taken daily or monthly to reduce the frequency, length, and severity of migraines.
She says some examples of these are:
How Stress Triggers Migraine
As you may know from experience, stress can cause attacks. In fact, studies suggest it might be the most common migraine trigger. In one migraine study, 1000 migraineurs were asked to identify their triggers, and 80% said stress was one of them. According to the American Headache Society, four out of five people with migraine say their attacks can be triggered by stress. To make matters worse, doctors believe that high stress levels make migraine sufferers more susceptible to other triggers, including hormonal changes, and that suffering migraine attacks may make people worse at handling stress over time.
Why would your brain react to high levels of stress by putting you in such intense pain that you canât do anything but lie down? As with so many questions about migraine brains, scientists donât have a clear-cut answer yet. It may have something to do with the âflight or fightâ responseâthe physical reaction to stress you might remember learning about in schoolâwhich causes a rush of chemical and vascular activity in your brain that can make attacks more likely.
How Long Does A Tension
That depends. A tension-type headache may last for 30 minutes or months. In general, episodic tension headache symptoms tend to come on slowly and end sooner. They often happen in the middle of the day. Episodic headaches usually dont last longer than a week.
People with chronic tension-type headaches can have symptoms that last for months at a time. Pain may stay at the same level of discomfort for days. While uncommon, these headaches can take a toll on your quality of life.
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How To Tell If Your Headache Is Caused By Anxiety
Tension headaches are often diagnosed in relation to a person’s overall health and lifestyle. Only a medical professional can officially diagnose a tension headache, but there are some questions many ask themselves to begin to identify the cause of a headache.
- Do I have migraines?
- Am I feeling stressed or anxious?
- Do I have any other symptoms of physical illness, like a fever?
Because self-diagnosis is not recommended, a visit to the doctor isn’t a bad idea. This is especially true, as many symptoms of anxiety mimic those of physical health problems .
Why Does Throwing Up Relieve Migraines
Doctors dont know exactly why throwing up relieves migraine headaches. Seems like we say that a lot when it comes to migraine symptoms right? There are several theories why throwing up relieves migraine attacks though. The most prevalent theory is that vomiting stimulates the vagus nerve. Your vagus nerve runs from your brain to your gut. The act of vomiting may be enough to stimulate that nerve resulting in the end of pain.
Remember that slowed digestive process we mentioned? Another theory suggests vomiting may be the end of that process. Vomiting associated with the end of the digestive slowing process may mark the end of your migraine attack. A third theory is that vomiting sends messages to your brain that announce the end of an attack.
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Ways To Reduce Stress
Some examples of stress reduction techniques include:8,9
- Regular exercise has been reported to reduce stress hormones, improve sleep and improve mental well-being.Aromatherapy with scents like lavender, vetiver, rose, bergamot, and others may be helpful with anxiety and sleeping difficulties.
- Reduction in caffeine intake
- Deep breathing
- Pet therapy
- Biofeedback therapy is a technique which teaches a person to control involuntary physical body responses like muscle tension, blood pressure and/or heart rate.
- Migraine glasses for light sensitivity can reduce the physical symptoms and emotional anxiety of light-related triggers .
What is exciting is that several of these techniquesnamely yoga, meditation, biofeedback and migraine glassesalso have clinical evidence showing that they can improve migraine frequency, intensity and duration. Click below to read more about each of them.
Note: Prior to starting any stress reduction techniques, it is important to speak with a headache specialist. Migraine manifests differently for each person and some of the methods included below may actually be triggers for certain patients. For example, if strong scents and perfumes are bothersome, aromatherapy may not be the best option.
What other stress reduction alternatives have you tried? Let us know what has worked for you by commenting below.
What Are Some Ways I Can Prevent Migraine
The best way to prevent migraine is to find out what triggers your attacks and avoid or limit these triggers. Since migraine headaches are more common during times of stress, finding healthy ways to cut down on and cope with stress might help. Talk with your doctor about starting a fitness program or taking a class to learn relaxation skills.
Talk with your doctor if you need to take your pain-relief medicine more than twice a week. Doing so can lead to rebound headaches. If your doctor has prescribed medicine for you to help prevent migraine, take them exactly as prescribed. Ask what you should do if you miss a dose and how long you should take the medicine. Talk with your doctor if the amount of medicine you are prescribed is not helping your headaches.
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Relief From Stress Headaches Caused By A Tight Levator Scapula Muscle
Let me take you through the treatment step by step.
Step 1: Relaxing the Spasms in Your Shoulders;
;You start by relaxing the spasms in your shoulders. While it can be awkward at first, you can very effectively treat your levator scapulae muscle by using a ball and pressing into the corner of a wall.
Put the Julstro Perfect ball directly on the top of your shoulder. Then lean straight into the corner of a wall.
Move slightly until you feel the pressure being focused on the knot at the top of your shoulder.
This treatment is for both your levator scapulae muscle and your trapezius muscle.
Step 2: Treating Your Levator Scapulae Muscle.;
Once you have loosened up the spasms in your shoulders, continue working on the levator scapulae muscle. You can also treat both by squeezing them with your fingers. Well demonstrate by treating your right shoulder. Naturally, you can do the same treatment on the opposite shoulder.
Bend your left arm and support you elbow with your right hand. Put your left three middle fingers on your right shoulder at the point where the shoulder and neck meet. It helps if you place it so your thumb and pointer finger are close to your neck with the middle finger being the working finger right on the junction, just a bit toward the back. Your four fingers should be crooked at each joint of the hand and your palm should be flat against your body.
Step 3: Stretching the Muscles in Your Shoulder
Wishing you well,
What Medications Are Used To Relieve Migraine Pain
Over-the-counter medications are effective for some people with mild to moderate migraines. The main ingredients in pain relieving medications are ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, naproxen and caffeine.
Three over-the-counter products approved by the Food and Drug Administration for migraine headaches are:
- Excedrin® Migraine.
- Advil® Migraine.
- Motrin® Migraine Pain.
Be cautious when taking over-the-counter pain relieving medications. Sometimes overusing them can cause analgesic-rebound headaches or a dependency problem. If you’re taking any over-the-counter pain medications more than two to three times a week, report that to your healthcare provider. They may suggest prescription medications that may be more effective.
Prescription drugs for migraine headaches include:
Triptan class of drugs :
- Co-enzyme Q10.
Drugs to relieve migraine pain come in a variety of formulations including pills, tablets, injections, suppositories and nasal sprays. You and your healthcare provider will discuss the specific medication, combination of medications and formulations to best meet your unique headache pain.
Drugs to relieve nausea are also prescribed, if needed.
All medications should be used under the direction of a headache specialist or healthcare provider familiar with migraine therapy. As with any medication, it’s important to carefully follow the label instructions and your healthcare providers advice.
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Get Your Priorities Straight
Think about your priorities, and write them down as two lists, marked Life and Now. What are the most important things on your list? What can you eliminate? Remember whats really important as you schedule your time and prioritize actions. Being always on the go, focused on tasks that dont make you happy is not the best option for leading a low-stress life.
What Does The Research Say
Though what exactly causes migraines hasnt been established, researchers believe they may be caused by changes in the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin. Serotonin helps regulate pain.
A 2014 study found that people with migraines who experienced a reduction in stress from one day to the next were significantly more likely to have a migraine the next day.
Researchers believe that relaxation after high levels of stress was an even more significant trigger for migraine than the stress itself. This is referred to as the let-down effect. Some suggest this effect is linked to other conditions, such as getting a cold or flu.
Youll likely first notice symptoms of stress before the symptoms of a migraine. Common symptoms of stress include:
- upset stomach
- frequent yawning
Some people experience migraine with aura, which occurs after the prodrome stage. An aura causes vision disturbances. In some people, it can also cause problems with sensation, speech, and movement, such as:
- seeing flashing lights, bright spots, or shapes
- tingling in the face, arms, or legs
- difficulty speaking
- temporary loss of vision
When the pain of the headache begins, its referred to as the attack phase. Symptoms of the attack phase can last from a few hours to a few days, if left untreated. The severity of symptoms varies from person to person.
Symptoms may include:
- feeling faint or lightheaded
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What Is A Stress Headache
Stress headaches arent an official classification of headaches in the International Classification of Headache Disorders , but are more accurately known as tension-type or tension headaches, Ellen Drexler, MD, a board-certified neurologist based in New York, tells;Health.
Tension-type headaches are defined by the absence of migraine features, so they tend to appear on both sides of the head, feeling like a pressure pain, without the usual migraine accompaniments of nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and worsened by head movement, says Dr. Drexler. They’d be the sort of run-of-the-mill pressure in the front of your head kind of headache of mild to moderate severity.
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According to the US National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus database, tension headaches are the most common type of headache and are described as pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck, often associated with muscle tightness. Tension headaches affect roughly 70% of people, and can last for 30 minutes to 72 hours, Susan Broner, MD, assistant professor of clinical neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College, tells Health, and in;order to be properly diagnosed with tension headaches, you need to have a history of them. To make the diagnosis, you’ve had to have had at least 10 of these ,” Dr. Broner says.;
Chronic Stress Impacts Other Emotions
Have you ever arrived home after spending an hour in traffic only to have a minor annoyance at home set you off? Thats because stress makes people grouchy, and a study published in Nature Communications has learned why.
Chronic stress eats away at a brain mechanism important for social skills and healthy cognition. It does this by affecting pathways in the hippocampus, a portion of the brain involved in memory, learning, and emotion, literally interfering with healthy responses. Interestingly, these affected pathways are the same ones involved in neurodegenerative diseases like epilepsy. Researchers plan to explore stress potential impact on those diseases as well.
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Managing And Preventing Headaches
Because the majority of headaches experienced by adults are tension headaches, and these headaches are caused by stress, a great proportion of these headaches can be avoided or at least minimized with effective stress management techniques. Additionally, because stress can make migraine sufferers more susceptible to their migraine triggers, stress relief techniques can help avoid many of these severe headaches as well. And, finally, because stress management techniques can strengthen the immune system , those who practice regular stress management techniques can avoid at least some potential secondary headaches by avoiding the health conditions that cause them.
Key Symptoms Distinguish Retinal Migraines From Migraines With Aura
Retinal migraines also known as retinal migraines are rare, affecting approximately 1 in 200 people. Theyre often confused with migraines with aura, though theyre actually very different.
The hallmark symptom of a retinal migraine is vision loss in one eye lasting less than an hour, and often in reoccurring bouts. Its important to distinguish between vision impairment in one eye one as opposed to one side of your field of vision; the latter being a symptom with aura. Like other migraine types, retinal migraines generally cause head pain for most. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to lights and sound. It should also be noted that vision loss in one can be a sign of a different, more serious issue; if you experience vision loss in one eye, consult a doctor immediately.;
Retinal migraines arent fully understood by scientists. Its thought that the vision impairment may be caused by a spasm of blood vessels around the eye, which cuts off blood flow. For some, retinal migraines may be precipitated by exercise.
If you think you might be suffering from retinal migraines or if youre experiencing vision loss in any way its best to see a doctor.
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How To Identify Triggers
If you have migraine, almost anything can be a trigger. This means it can be very difficult to identify your potential triggers. It may also be a combination of a few things that seems to lead to a migraine attack. And a trigger may not lead to a migraine attack every time, which can confuse things even more.
Here is an example of how combinations of triggers can work: A young woman has identified that her migraine attacks appear to be triggered when she skips meals, is feeling stressed and when she is about to have her period. If she comes home late from a very stressful day at work, her period is just about to start, and she goes straight to bed without eating a proper meal, she will almost certainly have a migraine attack. However, if she skips dinner another time, when the other triggers did not happen, she will probably not have migraine attack.
Many people find that they sometimes go a long time without having a migraine attack. During this time, your body may seem to be less sensitive to triggers and you may find that even the combination of your usual triggers doesnt result in a migraine attack.
Stress Affects The Body On A Biological Level
When we think of how can stress cause headaches, we have to first look at the body on a biological level. On the most basic level, the stress response begins in the brain, which triggers the release of an adrenaline hormone known as epinephrine, which increases heartbeat, pulse, and blood pressure.
Over time, chronic stress may result in high blood pressure, and mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Some people may also develop addictions to drugs or alcohol in an effort to cope with stress, according to Harvard Health. People may turn to food to cope with the tension, stop exercising, or have difficulty sleeping. These side issues may lead to obesity or other health problems.
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Coeliac Disease And Gluten Sensitivity
Coeliac disease is a serious condition where a persons immune system reacts when they eat gluten and causes damage to the lining of their gut. When this happens, they have symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating, vomiting and stomach cramps. There can also be serious complications if it is not treated, such as anaemia. There is no cure for coeliac disease and people with it need to avoid gluten all their life.
There have been studies into the link between coeliac disease and migraine. There is no evidence to suggest that coeliac disease causes migraine. It is thought that if people with coeliac disease and migraine follow a gluten-free diet, this may help with both of their conditions.
Gluten sensitivity is when a person has a bad reaction if they eat gluten. They may have similar symptoms to coeliac disease, but there is no damage to the lining of their gut or the risk of serious complications that can happen with coeliac disease.
Gluten is found in foods that contain wheat, barley or rye. These include pasta, bread, cakes, some sauces and most ready meals.
One of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity is headache. But there is no evidence that gluten sensitivity causes migraine. However, if you are sensitive to gluten, you may find that if you eat food containing gluten, it makes migraine attacks more likely or the symptoms more painful.