If you have ever suffered from a migraine headache, you will totally understand these next four words: Migraines are the worst. I mean really—what else will give you a nasty combo platter of moderate to severe pain, nausea, throbbing pain, and sensitivity to light or sound? If you’ve never had a migraine, consider yourself lucky. They can last for a few hours to even a few days and for many migraine sufferers it means literally waiting out the pain. For some people, pain medication works well but I know from my own experience that some days the Advil wins, and some days the pain wins.
I started getting migraines back in college and looking back, they were definitely tied to my menstrual cycle. About once a month I’d spend most of the morning and afternoon sacked out in my dorm room feeling queasy and in horrible discomfort. Finally the pain would lift and I’d be back to normal, more or less. For me, when the migraine goes away I’m often left with a lot of lingering fatigue and feeling like I’m out of it.
Honestly, if there was ever a health condition that needs us to be proactive in our approach, migraines are it. Rather than waiting for the pain to hit and then attacking it with prescription or over-the-counter pain medications, many migraine sufferers do a combination of things that allow us to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Aetna’s website has a nice section on preventing migraines that I think could be quite useful in helping people understand, among other things, what might be causing them to strike in the first place.
For example, the website suggests coming up with a “personal action plan,” that will help put you in control and hopefully reduce the number of headaches you have to deal with. It suggests starting out by talking with your physician about your migraine history and coming up with a plan of suggestions and goals that you both decide is best for you.
Next, keep a headache diary. I know this might sound kind of funny at first but it’s a great way to determine if there’s a pattern to when you are getting them.