10 Surprising Facts on Migraines
- 10 Surprising Facts About MigrainesHere's some food for thought: Did you know that eating avocados, ham, and lentils can trigger migraines? Or that some migraine medications can actually cause headaches? Read on to discover 10 facts about migraines that you may find surprising.
- 1. Keeping a Diary Is HelpfulYou don't have to write about your deepest fears or biggest crush, like you did in middle school. Instead, track when your migraines occur. Note the time of day they started, what you were doing, what you ate and drank for 24 hours before, and your menstrual cycle, if you're a woman. This can help you pinpoint your migraine triggers.
- 2. Exercise Prevents MigrainesIn fact, regular workouts work as well as daily medication or relaxation at warding off migraines, according to a study in the journal Cephalalgia. Participants exercised for 40 minutes, three times per week. Doctors think sweat sessions may reduce stress hormones that trigger head pain.
- 3. Migraines Are Tied to MenstruationThe hormones that control a woman's monthly cycle also contribute to migraines. Many women begin experiencing migraines when they have their first period or become pregnant, and they find relief after menopause. And the hormones in oral contraceptives often change the severity and frequency of migraines, or cause them to develop in women who haven't had them before.
- 4. Migraine Medicine Can Cause HeadachesWhen you take pain-relieving drugs more than three times per week, you may begin to develop a "rebound," or medication overuse, headache. Each time you swallow a pill, you'll experience a shorter period of relief. Eventually, you're left with a chronic migraine that takes weeks to wear off once you've stopped taking medication.
- 5. You Can Predict a MigraineMost people experience early warning signs of an impending attack. Premonitions such as strange food cravings, mood swings, and uncontrollable yawning can occur up to 24 hours in advance. Immediately beforehand, one in five migraine sufferers will have sensory symptoms known as "aura." These include flashing lights, blind spots, numbness, or the feeling of being grabbed.
- 6. Antidepressants Can Help—Regardless of Your MoodThe active ingredients in some antidepressants alter the level of chemicals in your brain, reducing your risk of getting a migraine, even if you're not depressed. Other medications used to treat migraines were also initially marketed for other conditions. These include anticonvulsants for epilepsy and beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure. Bottom line: Don't get hung up on labels!
- 7. You Can Have a Migraine Without a Headache
- 8. There's a Link with These 3 Types of FoodMany foods can set off a migraine, but there are three common culprits. One is food that contains nitrates, including hot dogs and lunch meats. Tyramine in aged cheese, smoked fish, and soy products may be to blame. And monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer in broths, soups, and fast foods, is also a trigger. Avoiding these may help you prevent attacks.
- 9. There's No Cure for MigrainesThe threat of a migraine usually can't be eliminated. But you can work with your doctor to manage the condition and reduce its effects on your life. Most people use two approaches: fast-acting drugs to stop a migraine in progress, and lifestyle changes and preventive medication to ward off the next one.
- 10. New Treatments Include Injections and MassageScientists are working on new medications to treat migraines, along with other approaches. These include stimulating nerves near the brain, botulinum toxin injections, monthly or quarterly self-injections of CGRP blockers, and craniosacral therapy (gentle massaging of the neck, head, and spine). Some of these approaches may make the future brighter for people with chronic, disabling migraines.
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