Tina Jacobson was quietly standing in her beautiful kitchen, cooking breakfast and wearing some unusual garb—earplugs and sunglasses. She wanted to block out all the light and somehow subdue the nose that aggravated the vicious migraine cruelly stabbing at her eye.
It wasn’t the first time the 40-year-old has donned these strange items. She started getting attacks 22 years ago. But that evening was very different. This time, her pain actually went away.
“it was like a simple BW film turning into a multi-color extravaganza, “says Jacobson, founder of the The Daily Migraine, a helpful website for all those who suffer from chronic migraines.
Lifestyle changes played a big role in her recovery. She had recently bought a good quality mouth guard to relieve some stress on her jaw, revved-up her exercise routine, and has gotten rid of many medications. These simple tactics turned out to be game changers for Jacobson.
If you’re a chronic migraine sufferer, you might want to try few of them to get lasting relief:
Take Fewer Meds
At the height of their migraines, many people start taking prescribed drugs, sometimes every 4-10 hours. But their headaches only worsen with time. Many even experience “rebound” headaches. That’s mainly because too many migraine meds only add to your problem instead of helping it.
In fact, major culprits are OTC medications, especially the ones that have caffeine or multiple ingredients.
So, if you’re taking drugs more than twice a week to treat your pain, thin about cutting down. You can consult your doctor about the best plan for you.
Don’t Eat Chocolate in the Rain
Some people know their migraine triggers, but they don’t know that some triggers may happen together. Changes in weather and chocolates could be one example.
You should preferably keep a dairy to see what actually sets you off, and if nothing clearly points to triggers, look for “coincidences”. Once you’ve successfully found all your triggers, maybe single, double or triple triggers, it’s much easier to avoid them.
For example, it’s easy for you to block out offending light using sunglasses (you can even use some that are specifically made for all those who have regular migraines), using the right light bulb, or using anti-glare screens on your computer. It’s also helpful to dress in layers to adjust temperature changes that may trigger attacks. You can also prevent headaches by avoiding motion sickness. For example, don’t read in your car and never sit in the front seat. If you feel you get woozy watching 3-D movies, simply skip the glasses.
Common food triggers are red wine, aged cheese, caffeine, chocolate, and avocado. Something as simple as corn or egg whites can be the reason.
Keep in mind that every trigger is not specific for that person, so don’t overdo it. You would lose the charm of your life by avoiding everything.
Once Jacobson tried to analyze the history of her migraines and found that she often went without headaches when she was on vacation. Why? She was not under any stress then, and was enjoying her life to the fullest. There was no pressure on her, no taking work calls or checking her emails. In other words, she wasn’t stressed.
Stress is the biggest migraine culprit. But mostly, it’s difficult to understand what’s happening until it takes over and you’re relaxing. This is often referred to as “letdown” headache. It has been observed that students often make it through the big test and then are down with the big headache the next day. Lawyers make it through the big deposition or big trial.”
If there are few stressful things in your life which you can change, change them without any delay. In fact, things by themselves may or may not be stressful, but thinking makes them so.
Try to relax with guided imagery, meditation, yoga, or just focus on one task at a time. Exercise 20 minutes four times a week, too. It is one of the easiest and surest ways to de-stress.
Don’t Sleep In
Sometimes too little sleep can also trigger a migraine attack. So can too much.
It’s not necessarily that you are sleeping too little or too much. It’s actually the changes in your sleep patterns. We all want to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Mostly, you would want to get those hours in the same time frame each day. You want to wake up and go to bed at the same time. If you’re in habit to wake up at 6 a.m., lounging in bed until 9 a.m. on Saturday may easily ruin your weekend. Maybe, you may also end up with caffeine-withdrawal headache when you miss your morning cup.
It’s also important to eat at the same time each day. When you fast, skip meals, or diet often, you can easily trigger headaches.
Visit the Dentist
Sometimes, migraines, including some headaches, stem from your overworked jaw. For instance, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) hinges your jaw to your skull. It get stressed when you grind your teeth at night, chew too much of gum, or clench your jaw during the day. These migraines may show up in the morning.
Discuss your pain with your dentist, he can suggest you some jaw-stretching exercises. You can also try taking smaller bites, and such on few mints instead of chewing gum. He will also fit you with a night guard to ensure you have a good sleep at night.