6 Ways to Outsmart a Migraine
22 Feb 2017 22:20
A Mayo Clinic study showed that most moms who have migraines admit that due to their headaches, they don’t enjoy family activities as much as they’d like, and 37 percent say the disorder has interfered with their ability to parent properly. One of the biggest bummers: Even when they are asymptomatic, many migraine-prone parents dread and even avoid family outings—like a sunny day at the beach (too bright) or a concert (too loud)—that could trigger an attack. If you have migraines, talk to your primary-care physician or a migraine specialist (you can search a national database at Migraine Research Foundation) to create a treatment plan that incorporates the following strategies. Migraines can be brought on by everything from aged cheese to red wine to weather (particularly hot or stormy days, or when the barometric pressure changes) to certain scents, like those of cleaning supplies and perfume. What’s more, the “migraine brain” is hypersensitive, so irregular sleep or eating, as well as episodes of stress, can be bad news. “Migraines behave best when life is boring and predictable,” says Matthew Robbins, M.D., chief of neurology at Jack D. Weiler Hospital, Montefiore Health System, in Bronx, New York. But have you ever encountered a toddler who fits that particular description? To pinpoint your triggers so you can try to avoid them, keep a diary or use a tracking app like “Migraine Buddy” (free for iOS and Android). Tracking made me realize I often reach for an ice pack during thunderstorms, and once I knew that, my doctor prescribed an altitude-sickness medication that, to my surprise, eased my reaction. A recent Stanford University study found that maintaining good sleep, exercise, eating, and hydration habits reduced migraine frequency by about 50 percent, and in a Swedish study, 40 minutes of exercise three times a week proved as effective as prescription medication at reducing migraine frequency. What’s more, three large meta-analyses found that people had a similar improvement when they practiced relaxation techniques, like meditation and deep breathing, as when they took a preventive drug. (Doing both worked best of all.) “I find that moms often feel they need permission to take care of themselves,” says Dawn Buse, Ph.D., associate professor of clinical neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and director of behavioral medicine at Montefiore Headache Center. “I often write lifestyle modifications, such as practicing yoga or taking a daily walk, on a prescription pad to drive home their importance.” To jump-start a meditation routine, try doing three minutes of “square breathing” (inhaling on a count of four, holding for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four, holding for a count of four) a few times every day. An easy trick I use to stay well-hydrated: carrying a to-go cup with a straw instead of a traditional water bottle. It turns out that I drink more when there’s no cap to unscrew. No one has invented a migraine magic bullet, so it’s important to personalize your drug regimen. “We often end ...
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