Chronic migraines are a different beast from the typical headaches that most people experience. With chronic migraines, you have headaches with migraine features at least 8 days a month for at least 3 months. The intensity can last anywhere from several hours to several days, and it generally doesn't go away with over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin. However, this doesn’t mean that you should give up and let this condition prevent you from everyday life. Let’s take a look at some helpful strategies for living with this painful condition.
Exercise has been shown to help reduce the intensity of a migraine and the frequency of its occurrence. This is due to increased levels of serotonin and endorphins in the body that promote feelings of calmness and well-being. Some people find that certain types of exercise are more effective than others, so it’s important to experiment with different activities and find what works for you. Light aerobic exercise, such as a daily walk, has shown the most promise for reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines, but you may find that something like yoga or strength training has a stronger effect on your specific case. If you are just starting to exercise again after a long period of inactivity or if you have never exercised before, it’s important to start out slowly. Consult with your doctor to determine what is best for your specific situation.
Create a migraine diet and eating plan
As with many other conditions, there is a link between diet and migraines. Many people find that a change in diet can help to reduce their migraine frequency and severity. It’s important to note that food is not the cause of your migraines, nor is it the cure. The link between diet and migraines is not well understood, so there isn’t a specific diet that would be effective for everyone. Nutritional deficiencies from vitamin D, magnesium, and riboflavin are a common cause of migraine and focusing on increasing these nutrients may help to alleviate symptoms. One study found that about half of the participants reduced the number of migraines that they experienced after following a specific diet, while the other half did not experience any change at all. For many people, the most effective change that they make to their diet is to reduce their intake of sugar.
Take care of yourself and your mental health
Chronic stress, anxiety, and depression can cause chemical changes in the body that make migraines more likely. Such changes include an increase in cortisol and norepinephrine (two stress hormones) and a decrease in serotonin, which has been linked to migraines. Taking care of your mental health is not only helpful for your migraines, but it’s also helpful for managing the pain that they cause. If you are experiencing stress and/or depression, there are many helpful treatments and therapies, such as counseling, therapy, and lifestyle changes that can help you to manage your symptoms and get your life back on track.
Finding your migraine triggers
Some people are able to identify clear triggers for their migraines, while others are not. Finding your migraine triggers can help you to reduce the frequency and intensity of your migraines. The use of a migraine diary may be beneficial in identifying patterns between triggers and migraine. If you have a clear trigger, you can try to avoid it, or you can try to manage the associated stress that it causes. However, the most effective way to reduce migraines is to treat the underlying cause of the condition itself. If you are experiencing migraines without any clear triggers, there are treatment options that can help to reduce their frequency and/or intensity.
Try alternative treatments and prescription preventatives
There are a number of alternative and complementary treatments that have been shown to be effective in reducing the frequency of migraines and their severity. Many people find that acupuncture works well for them, as do meditation and breathing exercises. There are a number of dietary supplements that have been shown to reduce migraine frequency and intensity, including magnesium, riboflavin (B2), feverfew, pa-free butterbur root, and CoQ10. There are also a number of medications that have been shown to be effective at reducing migraine frequency, such as amitriptyline, topiramate, and propranolol. While these medications are very effective at treating migraines, they should only be taken as part of a doctor-approved treatment plan. Many of the prescription medications that reduce migraine frequency have side effects that can interfere with daily life. However, they are often effective enough to be worth the side effects, as long as you are aware of what they are and how to manage them.
Chronic migraines are a painful and debilitating condition that can be challenging to manage. However, there are many things that you can do to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines and to improve your quality of life. First and foremost, it’s important to find a treatment plan that works for you. This can include medication, dietary changes, changes to your daily routine, and/or any of the other strategies listed above. Whichever strategies you choose, it’s important to make sure that you are consistent, so that you can get the best results. Most importantly, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are many people out there who are living with and thriving after chronic migraines. You can do it too!