Can Migraines Be Prevented?

Migraines are an all-too-common condition from which many suffer; however, few are aware of what causes them.

Migraines are different for different people but are often associated with a severe, one-sided headache; visual, olfactory, or auditory auras (signals or changes in the way things appear, smell, or sound); nausea; vomiting; dizziness; and light and sound sensitivity. The pain and associated symptoms can be so severe that some migraine sufferers are bedridden for days. 

While migraines can come on suddenly, many regular or frequent migraine sufferers learn to recognize when one is on its way and what foods or circumstances trigger them.

Experts at Harvard Medical School say there are too many migraine triggers to list and they vary from person to person, but many migraine sufferers have common triggers including:

  • Strong sensory inputs like bright lights, loud noises, and strong smells
  • Lack of sleep or too much sleep (waking up with a headache is a distinctive migraine characteristic)
  • Drop in estrogen levels associated with menstrual cycle, pregnancy or menopause
  • Alcohol
  • Certain foods
  • Stress (migraines are especially common during relaxation after great stress episodes)

5 Tips to Prevent a Migraine

1. Start by keeping a migraine diary. Note when you get a migraine, how long it lasts, all associated symptoms, and what you were doing and eating during the days and hours preceding your migraine.

2. Educate yourself on common food triggers and note if any of these are part of your diet. Experiment to see if eliminating these foods reduces your migraine frequency or intensity.

3. Be vigilant about getting enough sleep, practicing stress reduction techniques, eating well, and getting regular exercise.

4. Wear tinted sunglasses if your migraines are caused by light sensitivity.

5. Talk to your doctor about whether you're a good candidate for preventative medications like low-dose antidepressants, anticonvulsants, or beta-blockers.




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