5 Healthy Habits To Keep Chronic Migraines at Bay
If you’re suffering from migraine headaches, know that you’re not alone: Over 10 million U.S. adults report having chronic migraines—and are greatly suffering as a result of them.
Migraines are severe headaches that can last for hours and occur as often as once per week. They are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines can lead to significant disability, which can affect your school, work, and personal life.
Conventional approaches to treating migraines include a combination of pharmaceuticals, such as pain relievers, calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, and antidepressants. However, not only are these approaches not very effective, but they are associated with significant side effects.
Why is this the case? Well, conventional treatments address the symptoms and not the root causes of migraine headaches. At Aculief, we believe that the best solution to kicking migraines is to get to their root cause—which means optimizing your health.
In this guide, we’ll go over what migraines are, what causes, and five health habits you can adopt to finally get relief from this debilitating condition.
What Are Migraines?
Migraines are severe headaches that are characterized by severe, throbbing pain. Migraines are often accompanied by symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to external stimuli, and even poor cognitive function. The latter symptom is especially debilitating in a work or school context.
Most often, a migraine is set off by a trigger. These triggers tend to be sensory stimuli that would not bother those without migraines, such as bright light or loud sounds. However, in those with a history of migraines, these can be enough to set off an attack.
In the brains of those with a history of migraines, an electrical impulse gets set off, which creates a change in the brain’s blood flow. This change in blood flow puts increasing pressure on the brain’s nerves, which leads to the extreme pain that so many migraine sufferers experience.
In some migraine sufferers, an attack is precipitated by what is called an aura—a collection of symptoms that serve as a warning sign. This can include numbness, tingling, dizziness, and visual problems. Aura symptoms typically last less than an hour and are immediately followed by a migraine.
What Causes Migraines?
Like most medical conditions, “migraine” is a name used to describe a group of symptoms. This does not say anything about its underlying causes. Indeed, many researchers are perplexed about the exact causes of migraines.
However, this is because the causes of migraines are various and largely depend on the individual. In fact, there are potentially dozens of different causes of migraines.
For instance, some individuals may experience migraines as a result of extreme food sensitivities. Certain foods can trigger inflammation in the meninges—which are tissues that are located directly above the brain and spinal cord.
Common food triggers include gluten, dairy, eggs, sugar, and caffeine. But keep in mind: We are all unique. As such, even foods that are not known to trigger sensitivities may set off inflammation in your body.
Other individuals may experience migraines as a result of a hormonal imbalance. For instance, an imbalance between the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone are linked to migraines. If you often experience migraines before getting your period, then a hormonal imbalance may be the likely culprit.
Some easily-modifiable lifestyle factors may be to blame for migraines. Factors such as high blood sugar, dehydration, and smoking—amongst many others—are associated with an increase in migraines.
In sum, there is no one cause of migraines. On the contrary, migraines can be caused by various factors, which you have to address in order to experience relief. In the following section, we’ll go over exactly what this looks like—in addition to the habits you can adopt to kick your migraines to the curb.
5 Best Ways to Kick Migraines
1. Get to the Root Cause
In order to find the root cause of your migraines, you—along with your health care provider—will have to do some detective work. This will include going over all of your lifestyle factors, such as diet, sleep, stress, exercise, and various others that can be contributing to your migraines. Make gradual changes to see if you experience symptom relief.
In addition, you should ask your health care provider to run a series of blood and hormone tests to make sure that you are not experiencing an imbalance. We’ll go over what these should include in the following sections.
2. Make Dietary Changes
If you suspect that a food sensitivity is to blame for your migraines, then ask your doctor to run a food allergy panel. Make sure to get tested for a potential gluten sensitivity—as these often are overlooked in allergy testing. You may also benefit from testing for a yeast or bacterial imbalance in the gut.
If testing is not available to you, then you can try an elimination diet. For two weeks, avoid eating gluten, yeast, dairy, sugar, and eggs. If you experience a relief in your symptoms, then you might have a food sensitivity. Slowly introduce the culprits one at a time. If your symptoms return, then you have the answer to what’s causing your symptoms.
3. Balance Your Hormones
If you experience migraines before your period, then you might want to ask your doctor to run a blood or saliva hormone test. Usually, this will uncover any hormonal imbalances that may be causing your migraines. To balance your hormones, make sure to eat a low-glycemic diet, as a diet high in sugar is associated with a hormonal imbalance.
4. Keep Stress at Bay
While researchers are not sure exactly why stress leads to migraines, studies found a strong correlation between subjectively stressful experiences and the onset of migraines. If you notice a relationship between stress and headaches, then try to reduce the sources of stress in your life (which—we know—is easier said than done).
If getting rid of your life’s stressors isn’t possible, then there are a variety of stress relieving techniques that you can turn to. Yoga, meditation, and acupressure are all evidence-backed ways to reduce stress.
5. Try Herbal Remedies
Many pharmaceutical agents that are used to treat migraines come with a variety of side effects. In contrast, some herbal remedies are considered to be fairly safe. One herbal treatment for migraines is essential oils. Options like peppermint oil have been found to relax the muscles, which can reduce the tension that comes with many migraines.
Find Relief with Aculief
Migraine headaches affect millions of people worldwide and are associated with a high degree of disability. While there are many conventional treatment options for this condition, they do not get to the root cause of migraines. In addition, they come with a variety of negative side effects.
In contrast, these five tips for busting migraines not only helps you get to the root cause of the problem, but helps to improve your general health—to provide you with the relief you need and deserve.
Find more all natural migraine relief options at Aculief.
Migraine: Epidemiology, Burden, and Comorbidity | NCBI
The neurobiology of migraine | NCBI
Diet restriction in migraine, based on IgG against foods: A clinical double-blind, randomized, cross-over trial | NCBI
Migraine and estrogen | NCBI
Associations Between Migraine and Type 2 Diabetes in Women | NCBI
High-Fat, High-Sugar Diet Disrupts the Preovulatory Hormone Surge and Induces Cystic Ovaries in Cycling Female Rats | NCBI
Migraine: Maladaptive Brain Responses to Stress | NCBI