Many of my patients are living with frequent migraine headaches, and frequently the headaches end up dictating the patient’s lifestyle. Very often the patient will have missed work days or ruined weekends/vacations due to the pain experienced with their migraines. There are simple changes that you can make on your own without prescription medications to get your migraines under better control.

Identify Your Triggers

Common triggers for migraine include hunger, thirst, sleep deprivation, weather changes, and (for women) the time around the menstrual cycle.  Food triggers can be almost anything, but common offenders include alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, artificial sweeteners and gluten. Start keeping a headache journal and take note of all of these triggers on your migraine days to see if there is something in your day to day life that you can change in order to reduce the frequency of your migraines.

Avoid Rebound Headaches

Patients with frequent migraines will often start taking anything they can get their hands on for relief. If you get into the habit of taking over the counter medications more than twice per week for your headaches, these medications can actually make the headaches worse. We call these medication-overuse headaches or rebound headaches. Try to use alternative methods of dealing with minor headaches such as massage, heat, ice or rest. You can still take medications for relief, but try to limit it to no more than twice per week and take the medications right at the onset of the headache for the best effect.

Simple supplements can help to prevent headaches! If you are having migraines more than once per week, there are some simple and safe supplements that you can take on a daily basis to try to prevent your migraines. There is good clinical evidence that taking vitamin B2, magnesium, feverfew and fish oil can really help to reduce the frequency and severity of your migraines. Consult with your doctor before starting any new supplements.

Manage Your Neck Muscle Tension

Many patients with migraines also suffer from tension headaches, often driven by muscle tension in the neck. Getting regular massages, yoga and stretching can also help to reduce the frequency and severity of your migraines. If you have more significant neck issues, physical therapy or chiropractic therapy may be considered under the recommendation of your doctor.

Try some of these simple solutions to get your migraine headaches under control. Unfortunately, migraines can sometimes be tricky to deal with, but you can always come see your local, friendly neurologist for further evaluation and treatment. To make an appointment call 832-698-0111.

 

Amy Lindsay Howe, MD
Neurology