What Triggers Your Migraine Headache?
It really can be just about anything, and what precedes your migraine episode may not be the same for other migraine sufferers. Some common triggers include a variety of foods with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, nitrates and food additives like monosodium glutamate (msg), aged cheese, various scents, chemicals and fumes from cleansers and gas, medication, emotional ups and downs, physical activity/exercise, hormonal changes, stress and lack of sleep.
Many migraine sufferers get some type of warning in what is commonly known as an aura. Auras may include visual changes like flickering lights, blurriness, temporary blindness, heightened sense of smell and hearing. The warning from auras is sometimes good when you are aware enough to actually pay attention to the symptoms.
Research indicates a chemical imbalance of the mood regulating serotonin and hormonal changes cause migraine attacks. Some people are also believed to be predisposed to getting this neurological illness, meaning the migraine gene runs in the family, passed on down from one generation to another affecting mostly women family members than men.
A lot of people still at this time do not understand how disabling and debilitating a migraine attack can be, and may casually dismiss your symptoms as just a headache assuming the pain is just about the same level or a little bit worse than they experience. The reality is the pain which is probably 20 times worse than a headache is just one of the symptoms. The nausea and vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light, sound and smell are not understood or not thought of as possible because these do not come with a regular headache.
If you are a migraine sufferer, I can imagine your tolerance to pain is extremely high, having to function in society as if things were normal because sometimes you just have to. But with more recent awareness efforts, and advanced research on this illness, more and more people have become sensitive and more acceptable of the reality of migraine and its disabling effects on the sufferer.
Coping With Migraine Headaches
Doing the following things at the very first sign of an oncoming attack is often enough to thwart a full blown episode.
- Massage the back of your neck and work your way up around your head, and all the way to your temples with natural oils like peppermint, marjoram, lavender and feverfew . The oil with its healing properties gives a soothing, calming and numbing sensation for a very effective relief.
- Get under the covers in a dark room and close your eyes or better yet get some sleep to relax your nerves and blood vessels. Caffeine taken in moderation helps to relieve the pressure and dilate the blood vessels.
- Take your natural migraine remedy or prescribed medication immediately and drink plenty of fluids. Do not be second guessing if it is a regular headache versus a migraine headache. Note that the aura is a clear indication that you are experiencing a migraine. If the steps above do not stop your migraine attack then you’re now most likely experiencing a throbbing, intense pain on your head, accompanied by vertigo, nausea, vomiting and a heightened sensitivity to bright lights, sounds and smells. Although the duration of the episode differs for migraine sufferers, the headache typically lasts from one to three days. Depending on the severity, some people experience the headache for much longer than that.
Being open and honest about your illness, and not having to carry all the load when you have a migraine headache will make the people around you, the ones you love and the ones you work and live with to be more understanding and empathetic to your suffering. Do not be afraid to step back, and get a shut-eye if you need to, because you have to if you at least try to prevent a full blown episode. Accept help if someone offers you a hand with house chores and work duties, as it may just be the way to prevent the next excruciating and debilitating migraine attack.