Living with Migraine

Migraine attacks pose a serious challenge; though not fatal in nature, they cause severe pain along with serious disability. With the onset of a migraine attack, the sufferer is often unable to function properly or maintain a regular work schedule. Breaks in day-to-day routine caused by a migraine can represent a major setback.

A migraine headache usually lasts from 4-72 hours if untreated. The sufferer may experience pain on one side or both sides of the head, throbbing pain, sensitivity to light and sounds, nausea and vomiting, blurry vision and lightheadedness that may even lead to fainting. After the attack has passed the patient may feel confusion, moodiness, dizziness, a general sense of weakness and sensitivity to light and/or sound.

The pain, discomfort and anxiety caused by a migraine can seriously disrupt the quality of life to which we all aspire. You may often be in a state of emotional distress, even during symptom-free periods, wondering when the next attack may occur. This may lead to curtailing activities, disruptions in your sleep patterns, and may even affect your social life.

Too many sufferers do not seek professional help, treating a migraine like a normal headache, which it is not. Help is available in various forms, such as doctors who specialize in migraine and can offer guidelines to help deal with the condition, or patient support groups and counselors who can help dealing with the emotional trauma. We highly recommend your opting for a professional migraine treatment plan, to avoid your ending up taking medication which may be harmful.

The primary goal is to minimize emotional and physical stress. Try to get proper rest and sleep to that you are better prepared to face each new day. If your daily routine involves sitting for long periods of time, get up and stretch often. Relax your jaw, neck and shoulders. Getting regular exercise several times a week is also an excellent idea, along with eating and sleeping at approximately the same time every day in order to control your environment.

Other than lifestyle hints, try to understand and recognize the triggers. Depending on the individual, certain foods, alcohol, estrogen hormone levels in women, strong perfumes, flickering lights, even weather changes can bring on an attack. But even for a single individual, the same trigger may not set off an attack every time. Stress is widely believed to be the most common migraine trigger, releasing certain chemicals in the brain that can lead to an attack.

Keeping a diary may help identify what sets off the attacks, and aid in prevention over time. Not every popular trigger item presents a problem for everyone. Keeping track of patterns over time, say eating certain foods without having had a good night's sleep the night before and then suffering an attack, can be very helpful.

Most importantly, do not take migraines lightly—you and your health are too important!