What Are The Symptoms Of Migraines
The primary symptom of migraine is a headache. Pain is sometimes described as pounding or throbbing. It can begin as a dull ache that develops into pulsing pain that is mild, moderate or severe. If left untreated, your headache pain will become moderate to severe. Pain can shift from one side of your head to the other, or it can affect the front of your head, the back of your head or feel like its affecting your whole head. Some people feel pain around their eye or temple, and sometimes in their face, sinuses, jaw or neck.
Other symptoms of migraine headaches include:
- Sensitivity to light, noise and odors.
- Nausea and vomiting, upset stomach and abdominal pain.
- Loss of appetite.
- Feeling very warm or cold .
- Pale skin color .
- Euphoric mood.
Treating Migraine Headaches: Some Drugs Should Rarely Be Used
Migraine attacks can last for hoursor even days. They can cause intense pain, nausea and vomiting. They can make you sensitive to light or noise and they can affect your life and work.
To treat migraines, you may be given a prescription for an opioid or a barbiturate called butalbital. These are pain medicines. But you should think twice about using these drugs for migraine. Heres why:
These drugs can make headaches worse.
Using too much pain medicine can lead to a condition called medication overuse headache . Two kinds of pain medicine are more likely to cause MOH:
- Drugs containing opioidssuch as codeine , morphine , Hycodan or oxycodone .
- Drugs containing butalbital .
They are not as effective as other migraine drugs.
There are other drugs that can reduce the number of migraines you have and how severe they arebetter than opioids and butalbital. Even in the emergency roomwhere people with severe migraines often ask for opioidsbetter drugs are available, including triptans.
They have risks.
Opioids and butalbital can cause serious withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking them suddenly. People who use high doses for a long time may need to be in the hospital in order to stop using them.
Opioids, even at low doses, can make you feel sleepy or dizzy. Other side effects include constipation and nausea. Using them for a long time can lower your sex drive and cause depression and sleep problems.
Which drugs are good for migraines?
Limit the use of all pain medicines.
What Is A Supplement
Riboflavin plays an important role in cellular energy production in the body. Its role in mitochondrial energy metabolism suggests it may be effective in migraine. From the evidence available it is well tolerated and potentially effective as a preventive treatment for migraine. NICE Clinical Guidelines for managing headache state that riboflavin may be effective in reducing migraine frequency and severity in some people.
Magnesium plays an important role in a range of biological processes in the body. The evidence available suggests it may be effective as a preventive treatment for migraine. Some people do experience side effects including an upset stomach or diarrhoea.
Co-enzyme Q10 plays an important role in cellular energy metabolism in the body. The available evidence suggests it may be an effective preventive, but more research would be helpful.
Feverfew is a medicinal herb. There is limited evidence that it may be effective in migraine. From the studies available its not clear what is an effective preparation or dose.
There are a range of other supplements that are mentioned as treatments for migraine. These include melatonin, vitamins B6, B9 and B12, vitamin E and vitamin C. At the moment there is a need for more research into whether these have any benefit for migraine.
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Fruits Vegetables And Legumes
Fruits, vegetables, and legumes all contain plant estrogens that blunt the negative effects of the estrogen our bodies naturally make. This may be particularly helpful for women who get migraines with their periodswhich may be due to a sudden drop in estrogen. The reasoning goes, the higher your overall estrogen level is to begin with, the farther it can fall during the drop. The fibre in these migraine fighting foods helps by removing excess estrogen from the body along with waste, so its not recycled back into your bloodstream.
Another major plus of these foods: Theyre low in fat. When you eat less fat, your body makes less estrogen!
Aim for: Getting the recommended 7 to 10 daily servings of fruit and vegetables.
Peppermint Is Used For Headaches And Other Types Of Pain
Peppermint is a cross between the water mint and spearmint plants, and it grows wild in Europe and North America. Peppermint oil is used in aromatherapy for headache as well as muscle and nerve pain.
This essential oil can be inhaled, applied to the skin after being diluted with a neutral oil, or taken by mouth in very small doses. Some pain studies show that peppermint oil used as aromatherapy for headache may allow people to use fewer pain;medications.
Peppermint has menthol in it, and menthol has long been used as an analgesic; it numbs the pain by triggering the pain fibers, says Lin. Triggering the pain fibers supersedes the actual sensation of the headache pain, she explains.
Peppermint is also used to reduce anxiety; it calms the nervous system without sedating people, says Lin.
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Rosemary May Help With Migraine Pain And Anxiety
Rosemary is another essential oil that is frequently used in aromatherapy. Rosemary oil applied to the skin has been used to treat muscle pain and improve circulation, so it makes sense that it could help relieve migraine or;headache pain.
Essential oil of rosemary may be added to a base, or neutral, oil and rubbed into the skin. It can also be added to bathwater. Avoid contact with the eyes or any open cuts.
In a very small study, rosemary was shown to reduce migraine, says Lin.
A review of rosemarys effect on the nervous system published in 2020 in the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences found that rosemary was “a worthy source” for curing inflammation and as an analgesic, a memory-booster, and an anti-anxiety remedy.
Magnesium May Reduce Migraine Frequency And Intensity
In a meta-analysis published in 2016 in Pain Physician, oral magnesium was shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. There was also evidence that intravenous magnesium could help reduce the severity of an acute migraine attack within 15 to 45 minutes.
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What Can Essential Oils Do For Migraine Or Headache
The relationship between scents and the brain is complicated, says Lin. For some people with migraine, strong odors can actually trigger an attack, and so essential oils or scents should be used very carefully, she says.
If youre in the middle of a migraine attack or a headache, any scent, even one you typically find calming, can be bothersome if its too strong, says Lin. It could be too stimulating. You might need to dilute the oil more than you normally would for day-to-day use if youre using it for migraine, she says.
Classically, when were thinking about migraine, migraine attacks tend to be triggered by things like stress, not getting enough sleep, or when theres some strong environmental stimulants like bright light or sounds, says Lin.
Part of migraine prevention is trying to minimize those things, she says. Since stress and anxiety and tension are big triggers for headaches in general, things that reduce stress and anxiety can also potentially reduce headaches, she says.
Essential oils shouldnt replace doctor-prescribed migraine therapy, but there are some small studies to show that some types of essential oils may reduce the frequency or severity of migraine, says Lin.
What They Are Used For
A dietary;supplement;is a product that contains ingredients to supplement;your diet. The dietary ingredients in these products may include: vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes. People take supplements for a variety of reasons, but usually to boost their diet or to try and help with their health.
Many people with migraine try supplements to help their symptoms. There are many different supplements that claim to be helpful for migraine and headache. However, there is limited evidence about how effective these are. Only a few have some evidence to show potential benefit including riboflavin , magnesium and Co-enzyme Q10.
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Who Gets Migraines What Are The Risk Factors
Its difficult to predict who may get a migraine and who may not, but there are risk factors that may make you more vulnerable. These risk factors include:
- Genetics: Up to 80% of people who get migraine headaches have a first-degree relative with the disease.
- Gender. Migraine headaches happen to women more than men, especially women between the ages of 15 and 55. Its likely more common in women because of the influence of hormones.
- Stress level. You may get migraines more often if youre high-stress. Stress can trigger a migraine.
These Are The Best And Worst Foods To Eat If You Have A Migraine
Turns out, there are some foods that trigger migraines and some that can actually relieve that pounding sensation in your head.
You’re out and about on a beautiful sunny afternoon and all of a sudden you’re hit with a migraine. It’s the worst, right? And unfortunately, migraines are incredibly common and can be really, really painful for some people.
What causes them? Probably not the answer you’re looking for, but the cause is actually unknown. “Some believe migraines occur from hormonal shifts, specifically a drop in estrogen during menstruation,” says Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D. Two triggers that definitely can lead to a migraine are poor diet and stress, she explains. And even though causes might be based on the individual , there are specific foods and drinks that universally can be either beneficial or detrimental to migraine sufferers.
Not sure which foods to nosh on or to avoid when your head is pounding? Here’s a handy guide.
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Morning Pickup Or Daily Grind
Caffeine can help treat migraine headaches. Patients often report that coffee or soda helps reduce head pain. Caffeine is also a common ingredient in over-the-counter headache medicines.; Many patients note that medicines with caffeine are more helpful than those without. However, caffeine is a drug, and like many other drugs, it can cause problems when overused. Caffeine can be useful when used infrequently, but using it daily can lead to medication overuse headaches, which are also known as rebound headaches. Using more than 100 mg of caffeine daily is a known risk factor for developing daily headache.
Some suggestions for caffeine use in migraine patients:
- Episodic migraine patients should limit caffeine intake to one or two beverages daily .
- Patients with daily headaches should consider avoiding caffeine completely.
- Limit the use of caffeine-containing medications to no more than two days a week.
- Reduce caffeine intake slowly, by 25% each week, to avoid caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
- The amount of caffeine in different brands and types of coffee varies widely, from 133mg of caffeine in a large McDonalds brew to 415mg in a venti Starbucks. The same is true for different medicines. Consider using an online calculator or talking to your doctor when figuring out your daily caffeine use.
- Caffeine is probably not the only cause of frequent migraines, but reducing caffeine will often help improve headache.
Eucalyptus Oil As Bush Medicine
In Australia and other places around the world, this type of traditional medical practice by native peoples is known as Bush Medicine, according to the Australian Geographic website, australiangeographic.com.au. In an article titled Top 10 Aboriginal bush medicines, written by Marina Kamenev, eucalyptus was the second most common Aboriginal bush medicine, behind only tea tree oil. The use of eucalyptus oil can be traced back many generations.
Kamenev writes: When Aboriginal people did fall sick, they used plants in a variety of ways to quell their ills. Some plants, like goats foot, were crushed, heated and applied to the skin. Others were boiled and inhaled, and occasionally drunk. There were also saps which were directly smeared on the skin, and barks that were smoked or burned.
She goes on to write: Professor Joanne Jamie, a medicinal chemist from Macquarie University, in Sydney has compiled a database on Aboriginal plants. Many of those plants, she found, contained antibacterial and anti-inflammatory compounds that are known to Western medicine.
When plants are used in a customary way, there is a far greater success rate in them having biological activity, she says. The plants that were used by the Aborigines are very likely to be useful to us.;Research shows that other plants and herbs can be effective in improving our health as well.
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Essential Oils Can Have A Calming Effect
While no strong evidence suggests that essential oils can reduce the frequency or severity of headaches or migraine attacks, some people find it relaxing to massage lavender oil, diluted peppermint oil, or basil oil on their temples, or to put a few drops in a diffuser to scent the air.
“Lavender can be calming, and anything that decreases stress is helpful,” says Kriegler.
While lavender oil can be either inhaled or applied topically, it should not be taken orally because of its potency and the potential for taking in too much, according to Cleveland Clinic.
As an alternative to peppermint oil, peppermint tea brewed from fresh or dried leaves can also provide a relaxing effect, and contribute to proper hydration.
“Basil oil has a long history as a home remedy for relaxation and as an analgesic, or painkiller,” says Rothenberg. “The herb works as a muscle relaxant, so it is especially helpful for headaches caused by tension and tight muscles.”
Before applying any oil to your body, perform a skin test on the inside of your wrist to make sure you aren’t allergic to it.
Additional reporting by Becky Upham.
The Best Foods To Eat To Help Prevent Migraines
There aren’t any foods that will totally prevent migraines, but some are “pain-free foods,” according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine . “They recommend a plant-based diet as a way to improve your overall health, and these foods shouldn’t trigger any migraines,” says Rizzo. These foods aren’t necessarily linked to migraine prevention, but they are harmless to eat and generally healthy.
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Artificial Scents May Be More Likely To Trigger A Headache Than To Calm One
If you have headaches or migraine, beware of candles that are scented to smell like an essential oil, says Lin. You may want to avoid those, because they often have artificial scents rather than true essential oils they can often be stronger and more irritating, she says. Plug-in scents that are artificial are also a big no-no, she adds.
Smoked Or Processed Meats
If you’re eating meats or vegan meats that are processed, they likely contain additives, such as nitrates and nitrites, which can dilate blood vessels and cause headaches in some people. Plus, these meats also have tyramine, says Rizzo, which might lead to the onset of head pain. You’re better off grilling or roasting a plain piece of unprocessed meat and pairing it with fresh veggies instead of pickled or fermented ones.
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Vitamin D And Your Body
At one time, low vitamin D levels were thought to cause only the bone-weakening disease . Now, increasing evidence suggests low levels affect almost every system of the body, including the brain.
Though research to prove that low vitamin D causes is ongoing, several recent studies shed some light on the link. A report presented at a meeting of the American Headache Society found that 40% of people with migraines had low vitamin D levels. Those with deficiencies also developed migraines earlier in life.
Another study, in the Journal of Pain, shows migraines are more common at higher latitudes. This fact, and the pattern of migraine by season, suggests that the headaches strike where sun exposure is decreased and vitamin D levels reduced. Population studies report that about 42% of US adults have abnormally low levels of Vitamin D.
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How To Treat Migraines Caused By A Vitamin Deficiency
Consulting with a doctor is the best way to treat a migraine caused by a vitamin deficiency. A doctor may prescribe migraine medications to treat migraine pain and offer tips and recommendations to prevent a single migraine from becoming a recurring problem.
For those who are dealing with ongoing migraines related to a vitamin deficiency, a consultation with a neurologist may be required. A neurologist can provide a chronic migraine diagnosis, and he or she may also prescribe migraine medications.
If a chronic migraine patient finds his or her current migraine medications are ineffective or cause intolerable side effects, Dr. Jonathan Cabin of The Migraine Institute can help. Dr. Cabin is a head and neck surgeon with dual-subspecialty training in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, and his unique expertise enables him to offer personalized chronic migraine treatments. To learn more about how Dr. Cabin helps patients dealing with chronic migraine pain, please contact us today at 310.461.0303.
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