The word 'migraine' is derived from a Greek word hemicrania, which means 'half of the skull'. This is because, it mostly causes throbbing pain on one side of the head due to abnormal dilation or contraction of the blood vessels in the head. This pain is described differently by every individual. Some call it a headache behind the eyes, while others might feel the pain at the center of the temple. The exact cause is not clearly known, but there are some factors that tend to trigger such headaches.
Anxiety, stress, excessive physical exertion, jet lag, change in sleeping pattern, fasting, skipping meals, change in weather, exposure to bright lights, loud sound, or unusual smell are some of the most common triggers. It is often linked to the consumption of certain foods and drinks like chocolate, cheese, alcohol, caffeine, etc. The hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy, menopause, and menstruation often lead to such headaches in many women.
Tips for Dealing with Headaches
People affected by this condition often take painkillers that are available over-the-counter for instant pain relief. However, these medicines should not be taken on a regular basis as they have potential side effects. Here are some tips that might help the affected person cope with such headaches:
Tip #1: When you have a migraine, you do not feel like doing anything. So, suspend all activities and simply take good amount of rest to relax yourself. Lie down for some time (20 - 30 minutes) in a dark, quiet room. This will make you feel better.
Tip #2: A gentle massage can give a lot of relief from the annoying headache. So, rub your fingers over the temple and the artery near the ear with a gentle pressure. Massage the neck and shoulders as well. This will improve the blood flow in these areas and ease off the tension from the muscles.
Tip #3: Wrap up an ice pack in a small towel and move it slowly over the painful spots of the scalp and around the neck area for at least 15 minutes. At the same time, soak your feet in a tub of warm water. This will improve blood circulation in the entire body, which in turn will bring down the pain.
Tip #4: There are a number of food items that you should avoid when you are trying to manage the annoying headaches. They are: chocolate, cheese, nuts, seeds, soy beans, caffeine, alcohol, etc. Refrain from consuming these foods at least for a month. Thereafter, re-introduce them one-at-a-time to check, if any of them are responsible for the headache or not. If you find any such food item, stop having it completely.
Tip #5: You need a sound sleep of at least 6 - 8 hours every night. Make sure that you maintain a regular sleeping time, and your bedtime and waking time should be the same every day.
Tip #6: Try to avoid going to places where you are exposed to loud music or any other sound and bright lights. Such stimulants aggravate the problem further.
Tip #7: Try to identify the triggers responsible for the headache. Maintain a diary where you note down the possible triggers, every time you are attacked by migraine. Once it is identified, you can prevent future headaches rather easily.
If you are getting such headaches quite frequently or for several days together, then you should consult a doctor for treatment. Along with the regular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), triptans might also be prescribed for pain relief. This class of medicines not only reduces the pain, but also provides relief from nausea, sensitivity towards light, and other such symptoms. In case, the pain is unbearable, the doctor may also prescribe opiates for a short term. They may also prescribe some medicines to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. However, it is not advisable to use these medicines for a long time.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.