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What To Do When Having A Migraine

How To Get Through A Migraine

Do you have a Migraine or a Neck Headache- we discussed how upper cervical and neck can cause both

This article was medically reviewed by Luba Lee, FNP-BC, MS. Luba Lee, FNP-BC is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner and educator in Tennessee with over a decade of clinical experience. Luba has certifications in Pediatric Advanced Life Support , Emergency Medicine, Advanced Cardiac Life Support , Team Building, and Critical Care Nursing. She received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee in 2006.There are 29 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 747,407 times.

Migraines can be extraordinarily debilitating both because of the pain and because they leave you unable to tolerate light, sound, smell, and touch. Migraines require much more intervention than common tension headaches. If you suffer from migraines, it is best to try to prevent your migraines. Since it is difficult to prevent migraines entirely, there are some steps that can help you get through your next one.

Can I Have A Visual Migraine Without A Headache

Definitely. It is actually very common to have a visual migraine without any headache. The medical term for this is acephalgic migraine, which literally means migraine symptoms without headache. Except for the absence of a headache, the visual symptoms in acephalgic migraine are identical to the episodes that accompany a classic migraine aura.

Apply A Cold Compress

If youve ever put an ice pack on an injury or a heating pad on a sore back, you know the power of temperature therapy. This can also help when you have a migraine.

Cold therapy has been used to treat migraine for more than 100 years, but there are few scientific studies to suggest why it can help relieve pain for some people. Some theories have suggested that cold therapy can help constrict blood vessels or slow the nerve signals involved with migraine pain.

Even recent studies havent pinpointed exactly how , or ice packs applied at the onset of a migraine could significantly reduce the perception of migraine pain.

You may need to experiment to decide what feels best for you. Some people find that an ice pack applied to the head offers soothing, numbing relief. This is particularly helpful if sun or heat brought on your migraine.

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Keep Your Manager Informed

Migraine is a fluctuating and episodic condition and its impact on you at work may vary. Keeping your employer informed of any relevant changes to your condition or treatment can help them to provide you with the necessary support that you need. Your doctor and Occupational Health can support you in this process. You may also want to provide your employer with The Migraine Trusts website and information resources to help debunk any misconceptions or confusion about the condition.

The Impact Of Migraine On Work

Migraine Headaches In Children

Migraine is most common among adults of working age. It can impact working life but this can be significantly reduced if people with migraine are supported at work.

People with migraine often need very little help from their employer, but this small amount of support can be decisive in enabling them to work effectively with migraine.

Not receiving support from their employer can have very serious consequences for people with migraine.

25,000,000It is estimated that the UK population loses 25 million days from work or school each year because of migraine

47%Migraine/chronic headache was found to be the second most frequently identified cause of short-term absence for non-manual employees

£2,250,000,000Absenteeism from migraine alone costs £2.25 billion per year in the UK

I grew tired of questions and comments such as – I dont understand why a headache is lasting more than a day?, have you ever been told that you shouldnt be working full time?

I have a desk-based job which brings up its own difficulties. Visual disturbances come fast and ready when you stare at a computer all day.

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Throbbing Pain On One Or Both Sides Of The Head

Pulsating pain is a classic sign of migraines. The throbbing is often felt on one side of the head.

In an online survey of patients with migraines, the National Headache Foundation found that 50% “always” have throbbing on one side, while 34% say they “frequently” have this symptom.

Migraine pain often burrows behind the eye.

People will blame it on eye strain and many will get their eyes checked, but that won’t make their headaches any better, Dr. Messina says.

Preventative Medication And Therapies

If you experience frequent migraines, your GP might discuss preventative medication options with you.

It is important to note that preventatives for migraines are not pain medication, but help to reduce the number of migraines. They take time to work, so the minimum time period required may be three to six months. Contact your GP or specialist for further information. All of these treatments have their advantages and disadvantages and some of the medications might not be suitable for everybody.

You might find that this medication reduces the frequency and severity of your attacks but does not stop them completely. You will need to continue your other migraine treatments when you experience an attack.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that GPs and specialists should consider the following drugs and therapies if they think you might benefit from preventative treatment:

Beta blocking drugs

These drugs are traditionally used to treat angina and high blood pressure. It has been found that certain beta-blockers prevent migraine attacks. Beta-blockers are unsuitable for people with certain conditions.

Topiramate

This drug is typically prescribed for the treatment of epilepsy but has also been found to help reduce the frequency of migraines. Again, it is not suitable for everyone. In particular, women who are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant should be advised of the associated side effects.

Amitriptyline

Acupuncture

Botulinum toxin type A

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What Can I Do During Pregnancy To Decrease The Chance Ill Get A Migraine

Since so many migraine treatments are off the table while pregnant, it might feel like your arsenal is running low.

With fewer medications to turn to, lifestyle changes can make a huge difference in keeping your migraines under control while youâre pregnant.

Dr. Crystal recommends:

  • Avoiding your known migraine triggers
  • Dental evaluation for a night guard, if necessary
  • Eating frequent, small meals
  • Getting good sleep, and enough of it
  • Physical therapy for neck pain and muscle spasms
  • Prenatal massage
  • Reducing stress as much as possible, and exploring techniques for managing stress

What Are The Symptoms Of Migraine

What to do if you have chronic migraines

The main symptoms of migraine are an intense, throbbing or pounding headache often affecting the front or one side of the head, nausea and sometimes vomiting , and an increased sensitivity to light smells and sound. The throbbing headache is often made worse by the person moving.

Other symptoms of migraine might include poor concentration, feeling hot or cold, perspiration , and an increased need to pass urine. This can occur before, during or after the migraine attack.

People might also experience stomach aches and diarrhoea.

It is common for people to feel tired for up to two or three days after a migraine.

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Check Your Company Sickness Policies

At times migraine attacks can necessitate taking time off from employment. Since migraine attacks typically last between 4 to 72 hours, people with migraine are more likely to take short-term sickness absence due to their condition. Your companys sickness policy and absence management procedure should outline your employers approach to managing sickness absence, in particular short-term absences, how they will support you and what to expect if you take absence. It is important to familiarise yourself with these policies and you may also want to read your companys Equality and Diversity, and Health and Safety policies since these may also be relevant. If you are concerned about how your migraine related sickness absence is managed you are entitled to discuss this with your manager or HR. Information from your doctor and The Migraine Trusts Advocacy Service can support these discussions.

Other Causes Of Migraine Attacks

Certain risk factors, such as age and family history, can play a role in whether you get migraine or menstrual migraine. Simply being a woman puts you at increased risk.

Of course, you cant control your sex, age, or family tree, but it may help to keep a migraine diary. This can help you identify and avoid triggers.

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What Are Additional Symptoms Of A Migraine

Some people have additional symptoms before or after a migraine starts. These symptoms are called auras and can include:

  • Numbness or a feeling of pins and needles in your arms, legs, fingers, or face
  • Problems with your vision
  • Trouble speaking
  • Weakness or difficulty moving your arms, legs, or face, although this is rare

How Is Abdominal Migraine Diagnosed

Knowing the Type of Headache You Have

There is currently no test to confirm abdominal migraine. Your doctor will make a diagnosis based on specific criteria that details the type, frequency, and severity of symptoms associated with abdominal migraine. The diagnosis will typically be made only after all other causes of abdominal pain have been ruled out.

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What Are Some Migraine Risk Factors And Triggers

Some things make you more likely to get migraine headaches . Other things may bring on a migraine .

Common migraine risk factors include the following:

  • Family history: You are much more likely to have migraines if one or both of your parents had migraines.
  • Sex: Women are more likely than men to have migraines.
  • Age: Most people have their first migraine during adolescence, but migraines can start at any age, usually before age 40.

Common migraine triggers include the following:

  • Food and drink: Certain food and drink may cause migraines. Dehydration and dieting or skipping meals may also trigger migraines.
  • Hormone changes: Women may experience migraines related to their menstrual cycles, to menopause, or to using hormonal birth control or hormone replacement therapy.
  • Stress: Stress may trigger migraines. Stress includes feeling overwhelmed at home or work, but your body can also be stressed if you exercise too much or dont get enough sleep.
  • Senses: Loud sounds, bright lights , or strong smells may trigger migraines.
  • Medicines: Certain medicines may trigger migraines. If you think your migraines might be related to your medicine, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medicine.
  • Illness: Infections, such as the cold or the flu, may trigger migraines, especially in children.

Foods that may trigger migraines:

  • aged, canned, cured, or processed meat
  • aged cheese
  • soy sauce

Is It Safe To Breastfeed And Take My Migraine Treatments

If youâre breastfeeding, youâll need to avoid the medications that are known to make it into your breastmilk .

When it comes to your acute medications for treating migraines when they strike, âsumatriptan is generally considered safe,â Dr. Crystal notes, âbut eletriptan is preferred due to minimal excretion into breast milk.â

In terms of preventive medications, propranolol and amitriptyline are generally considered safe, says Dr. Crystal, though thereâs not enough data about topiramate for doctors to assess how safe it is.

To be safe, youâll want to discuss your migraine treatment with your doctor to be sure itâs safe for breastfeeding mothers. In the meantime, check out TOXNET, a database on which medications are safe to use while breastfeeding.

During pregnancy, youâre juggling a million things, and dealing with migraines can add to the stress. And, since other types of headaches could crop up during pregnancy, like tension headaches, you may need extra guidance on how to handle headaches during pregnancy.

To make it easier on you and to keep your baby safe, make a plan for treating your headaches early in your pregnancy, and always check with your doctor before taking a medication or starting a treatment.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit MedWatch: or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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How Are Migraines Treated In The Er

Many medicines are used to treat severe migraine headache pain in the ER, including those listed on the next page. The ER doctor may also give you other medicines for nausea and may treat you for dehydration .

Medicines for Pain Relief

Researchers found that the medicines listed below work to lessen or stop migraine pain. Nearly all of these medicines are given as a shot or through an intravenous tube in your arm. Some NSAIDs can also be taken by mouth.

  • Metoclopramide
  • Prochlorperazine
Neuroleptics and antiemetics are medicines that change the way certain chemicals act in your brain. Some of these medicines may also treat nausea and vomiting.
SumatriptanSumatriptan is a headache medicine that narrows the blood vessels in your brain.Note: People with heart problems, such as narrowing or hardening of blood vessels in the heart, should not take this medicine.
NSAIDsNSAIDs are medicines that relieve pain.
Opioids

  • Nalbuphine
  • Tramadol
Opioids are medicines that relieve pain. But, these medicines are rarely used for migraines because of possible side effects and the fact that other medicines work well to relieve migraine pain.Note: Taking opioids repeatedly to relieve pain can lead to overuse. Opioids can be addictive.
DihydroergotamineDihydroergotamine is a headache medicine that narrows the blood vessels in your brain.

Medicines To Stop the Migraine From Coming Back

The doctor may also give you a medicine to help stop the migraine from coming back within the next day or two.

How We Can Help

Migraine : What you need to know

The impact of migraine on employment is a huge issue for people with migraine and The Migraine Trust. We understand that even with a supportive employer and the above in place, difficulties at work because of migraine may still occur. Our Migraine: Help at work toolkit has information, resources and tools to inform and support you to exercise your rights at work.

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What Else Can I Do To Prevent Migraines

While there are no sure ways to keep from having migraine headaches, here are some things that may help:

Eat regularly and do not skip meals.

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule.
  • Exercise regularly. Aerobic exercise can help reduce tension as well as keep your weight in check. Obesity can contribute to migraines.
  • Keep a migraine journal to help you learn what triggers your migraines and what treatments are most helpful.

Is It A Trigger Or A Warning

We know that the brain of someone with migraine likes balance, like regular sleep and meal patterns. We also know that migraine can be triggered by alcohol and the menstrual cycle. The evidence for other triggers, such as exercise, eating chocolate and bright light, is less certain.

It can sometimes be difficult to tell if something is really a trigger, or if what youre experiencing is an early symptom of a migraine attack.

Studies have found that sometimes what you may think is a trigger is actually to do with the premonitory or warning stage of a migraine attack.

During this stage, you may get symptoms such as changes in your mood or emotions, cravings for certain foods, and being more sensitive to light, sound or smells.

These symptoms can lead to you think that something is triggering your migraine attack. For example, at the beginning of a migraine attack, you may start to crave sweet foods. You may then eat some chocolate to satisfy the craving. When you then get a headache, you may think that eating chocolate was the trigger. But actually you were starting to have a migraine attack when the cravings started and the cravings were the warning sign.

The same could be true for other triggers. If you are more sensitive to light in the warning stage, you might think bright lights are a trigger. If you are more sensitive to smells, you might think certain scents are a trigger.

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What Tests Are Used To Find Out If I Have Migraine

If you think you get migraine headaches, talk with your doctor. Before your appointment, write down:

  • How often you have headaches
  • Where the pain is
  • How long the headaches last
  • When the headaches happen, such as during your period
  • Other symptoms, such as nausea or blind spots
  • Any family history of migraine
  • All the medicines that you are taking for all your medical problems, even the over-the-counter medicines
  • All the medicines you have taken in the past that you can recall and, if possible, the doses you took and any side effects you had
  • Your doctor may also do an exam and ask more questions about your health history. This could include past head injury and sinus or dental problems. Your doctor may be able to diagnose migraine just from the information you provide.

    You may get a blood test or other tests, such as CT scan or MRI, if your doctor thinks that something else is causing your headaches. Work with your doctor to decide on the best tests for you.

    What Symptoms Must You Have To Be Diagnosed With A Migraine

    Does Caffeine Help Headaches

    Migraine with aura . This is a headache, plus:

    • Visual symptoms or vision loss.
    • Sensory symptoms .

    Migraine without aura . A common migraine is a headache and:

    • The attacks included pain on one side of your head.
    • Youve had at least five attacks, each lasting between four and 72 hours.

    Plus, youve experienced at least one of the following:

    • Nausea and/or vomiting.
    • Lights bother you and/or you avoid light.
    • Sounds bother you and/or you avoid sounds.

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    Foods To Eat When You Have Migraine

    If you are having migraine problem or severe headaches, painkillers are not the only way to treat it. And Painkillers have various side effects too. So, I would help you with natural and nutritional supplements that can help to relieve the pain. And it is essential to include a variety of nutrient-dense foods into your diet, especially foods that are rich in magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B2. You should also be drinking lots of water and stay hydrated the entire day.

    Here are some beneficial food options for you:

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