Migraine is the third most common condition in the world as per record of the Migraine Research Foundation. According to experts, migraines can run in families with children and adults who tend to have them. It is 3 times more common in women than in men. Migraines are part of a neurological condition and, with headache, you may often experience other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, increased sensitivity to the light, sound, and smell.
Having suffered from migraine, here are some effective home remedies and tips which has helped me to get rid of the discomforting headaches naturally.
1) Have Caffeine In Moderate Quantities (Tea):
Caffeine has ‘vasoconstrictive’ properties that cause the blood vessels to narrow and restrict the blood flow, which can help in obtaining relief from the pain. When caffeine is taken along with painkillers, the pain-relieving effect is increased by 40%. But, be careful as caffeine can be a headache trigger too; it can cause ‘Caffeine rebound’ if consumed in excessive quantity leading to withdrawal symptoms, such as fatigue and headache. So, it’s best to have it in moderate quantity to avoid a potential migraine attack.
2) Seek A Dark Room:
Rest in a quiet, dark room when the symptoms start bothering you. The Migraine headache often increases the sensitivity to light and sound. Photophobia or sensitivity to the light is a common migraine trigger that can worsen the headache. Find a calm environment, switch off the lights, and relax in a dark room.
3) Temperature Therapy:
Put a cold or hot compress on your forehead, scalp, and neck. Cold compresses reduce blood flow and offer a numbing effect. Using the heating pads helps in relaxing your tensed muscles.
4) The Use Of Lavender Oil & Peppermint Oil:
Inhaling lavender oil may ease a migraine headache. Oil can be applied diluted to the temples or can be inhaled directly. It can help in the acute management of migraine headaches. Lavender oil is often used to get sleep and to reduce anxiety, stress, or depression. The menthol in peppermint helps the muscles relax and eases the pain.
5) Stay Hydrated:
Dehydration is a major cause of the headache, and it can trigger a migraine. Dehydration causes a drop in the blood volume resulting in reduced flow of the blood and oxygen to the brain and dilated blood vessels, thereby causing a headache. Stay adequately hydrated. Increase your fluid intake. Having 2-3 liters of liquid regularly is recommended. Drink enough water. Eat fluid-rich foods, such as cucumbers, other fresh vegetables, and fruits which have high water content. Strenuous exercises can cause extra fluid-loss through sweat, so temporarily reduce your physical activity.
6) Foods To Avoid:
Avoiding certain foods and beverages can help to prevent Migraine episodes. Tyramine is hidden in some of your favorite foods, such as aged cheese, meats, and some types of beer which are potential Migraine triggers. Avoid additives and chemicals added to enhance flavor or help foods to stay fresh for a longer time. Flavors, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), may bring on a headache. Do avoid pickled items, processed foods, citrus foods, dairy products, such as buttermilk, sour cream, sour curd, salty foods, spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol.
7) Sleep Well:
Get enough sleep, and make a habit of going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Aim to have 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Naps of more than 30 minutes may interfere with your night sleep. Avoid watching television or using smart-phones 1 hour before going to sleep; save your bedroom for sleep. Listen to the soothing music, and read your favorite book. Also, keep a watch on what you eat and drink before bedtime, as caffeine, heavy meals, nicotine, and alcohol may interfere with your sleep.
- Exercise: Exercising releases certain chemicals called endorphin which blocks pain signals to the brain and also triggers a positive feeling in the body alleviating anxiety and stress. But, start slowly, as a vigorous exercise can trigger a migraine headache. Avoid intense exercise before bedtime, and don’t try it in the middle of a migraine attack as it may worsen the headache. Regular exercise can prevent headaches.
- Stress Management: Migraine and stress go hand in hand. Stress, anxiety, and constant worry trigger a migraine attack. Start practicing relaxation and stress-relieving techniques, such as yoga, meditation, and pursuing your favorite hobby. Talk to your friends and family members, as the support of loved ones helps tremendously. Seek the help of a psychologist or counselor, if needed. Effective stress management can make you feel happier, healthier, and more productive. Going for regular yoga sessions can cut the number of attacks you get and make them less intense when they occur.
- Maintain A Migraine Dairy: Why maintain a Migraine diary? Keeping detailed records of migraine episodes can help have an additional insight with regards to the triggers and how to avoid them. Keeping a track of the foods you eat and the occurrence of the episodes of migraine can help identify the potential food triggers. The record may include information, such as when the symptoms start, how often it occurs, how long the episode lasts, etc. Record as many aspects of daily life as possible such as, what and when you eat (think about the delayed or missed meals) as skipping meals or fasting triggers a headache, medicines taken for other complaints, how much sleep you had, exercise you perform, and other factors, such as weather. Women should record details of their menstrual cycle, as many times a migraine attack is triggered during the menstrual cycle due to the changes in a hormone.
If you’re reading this and you’re a sufferer, learn to avoid your specific triggers and make sure you follow these helpful tips to obtain relief from it.
- Written by Dr. Mithila K, Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah