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Migraines and Severe Headaches—Preventing the Pain—Part 2

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In part 1 of this article, we learned a couple of techniques that can help us prevent migraines. According to Aetna’s website, one tip that can really help is to identify the triggers that may be causing it in the first place.

In general, a migraine trigger is something in the diet, your emotions, the environment, or biology that will cause a nasty headache to raise its ugly head. Many people who suffer from migraines learn that at least one trigger will often lead to pain. And in general, some triggers are more common than others.

Dietary triggers that seem to often lead to migraines for many people include alcohol and especially red wine, aged cheese like cheddar or brie, monosodium glutamate, caffeine, and canned, cured, or smoked meats. Certain medications have also been linked to migraines, like hormones and pain medications like ibuprofen. Yes, you read that right—pain medication can lead to migraines, due to what’s called a rebound effect from the medication. Once you know which foods or drinks seem to lead you to a migraine, you can try eliminating them one at a time until the headaches subside.

Environmental triggers include bright sunlight, perfumes or other odors, cigarette smoke, and the weather. Now that I’m in my early 40s, I’ve become a bit of a walking barometer. Just last week I woke up with a mild migraine and wondered why I had one. Then I looked outside and saw the heavy clouds and change in weather and knew—going from sun and blue skies to overcast rainy conditions will often trigger a migraine.

Biological triggers include being very hungry, being sleep deprived or getting too much sleep (I know, it seems like an oxymoron but it can really happen), and your menstrual cycle. And emotional triggers include stress, either something that is currently happening or has recently ended.

Speaking of stress, a key way to prevent migraines is to figure out ways that work for you to keep your stress level as low as possible. In a perfect world, you would just avoid whatever stressful situation causes you to get a migraine. But in many cases, this is not a realistic goal so it’s better to find ways to cope.

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EmpowHER Guest

For decades I'd been suffering headaches (and severe eye inflammation). Much more severely in recent years.

Here's why:
I discovered the MAJOR culprits are:
exposure to bright fluresence of LCDs/LEDs/store-lighting that's everywhere these days, as well as:
extreme seasonings such as lemon or over-salty-stuff or RAW onion/garlic (that's ALSO everywhere hidden inside endless foods)
exposure to chemicals/aerosols etc. that's ALSO everywhere these days

So then I told myself:

Y'know, for years I've listened to doctors' warnings against coffee/caffeine.
Like a complete moron, i went ahead & listened to them.

but yet...
...people take coffee plus aspirin as HANGOVER REMEDY!

So.. I used the process of logical deduction
...just like the elephants in the tsunami who followed their intuition NOT "science"


...So why not take coffee complete with caffeine, together with aspirin?

Bingo! Blessed sleep (as opposed to excruciating headaches & eye pain from fluresence causing sleepLESSness.
Of course DO NOT overdo it.
EVERYTHING always has a flip side when overdoing - in my case constriction of heart vessels.

As long as you become aware, and learn how to walk the tightrope, balancing your anti-headache needs, with your heart's needs. (or other, depedning on your situation.

April 11, 2010 - 10:22pm

I have had migraines ever since I was a kid and they got worse as I got older., they can run in your family. I can trace the thru 5 generations.
I can relate to most of the things you mentioned, Especially perfume, my son says he gets one every time he gets in a store that has a perfume dept. My Daughter hasn't eaten chocolate in years.
At the onset I take, Excedrine, usually that helps. But when it don't I use the Imitrex Injections.
Don't remember if you talked about drinking water or not, but they say becoming dehydrated can bring them on. I wonder how many times I dehydrated myself when I had migraines, I was throwing my cookies from both ends. (sorry but it's true)
Now I am on 80 mgs. of Indera, as a preventive, it seemed to help alot, at first. but I still need to watch what I eat, how much good restful sleep I get etc. If I dream , I will wake up with a migraine.
Be careful what you watch before you go to bed, bad news etc. can cause you to dream and wake up with a migraine.

February 4, 2010 - 8:12pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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