What to do when suffering from a migraine
You can feel it coming. The throbbing pain in your head, the sudden wave of nausea, and extreme sensitivity to light and noise all point in one direction: migraine.
If this is a common experience, you’re not alone. Thirty-five million people in the US experience migraine headaches. When the discomfort strikes, it can feel never-ending. But there are a few things you can do at the first signs of a migraine to ease your pain and shorten its duration.
We’ll examine some of the things to do when suffering from a migraine below before investigating the potential underlying causes of chronic migraines and what you can do to rid yourself of these horrible periods of severe pain for good.
Four things to do when suffering from chronic migraine
Stop what you’re doing
If possible, step away from whatever you are doing. Staring at a computer screen isn’t going to do any good. Instead, head to a dark, quiet area like a bedroom, turn off all lights, close your curtains, and lie down. If you can, go to sleep.
If you have a hard time falling asleep, try a hot or cold compress on your head or neck. Heat relaxes the muscles, while ice creates a numbing sensation. You can also take pain medication like acetaminophen and aspirin.
Focus on quality sleep
A bad night’s sleep can trigger a migraine the following day. By improving the quality of your sleep, you may be able to minimize the frequency and severity of your migraines.
Set and stick to a regular sleep schedule and keep any daytime naps under 30 minutes, as these may interfere with your night-time rest. Take time at the end of your day to unwind. Try taking a warm bath, reading a book, or doing any other activity that doesn’t involve a screen.
Avoid distractions in the bedroom. Your bedroom should be all about sleep, so don’t be tempted to work or watch TV from bed. Don’t consume caffeine, eat a big meal, or perform intense exercises right before bedtime – these can all wreak havoc on your ability to fall and stay asleep.
Understand how diet affects your migraines
Some people get migraines after eating certain kinds of foods, such as chocolate, cheese, red wine, and soy products. If you suspect a food is triggering your migraines, keep a journal. Take note of what you ate and when and whether you experienced a migraine.
Commit to regular exercise
Exercise has no shortage of benefits for your overall health and wellness – preventing or minimizing migraines is one of them. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals that block pain signals, relieve anxiety, and alleviate depression.
What’s more, obesity can increase your risk of chronic migraines.
Stress and migraines are two peas in a pod. For some, stress can trigger painful, frequent, even life-limiting headaches. Managing stress may help keep your migraines to a minimum, and if you can feel a migraine coming on, relaxation practices can help prevent it from escalating.
Why do I get chronic migraines?
There are a myriad of factors that contribute to the onset of a migraine – poor sleep, stress, certain foods, and more. But even when exposed to the same environmental and lifestyle factors, some people don’t get migraines. What makes you susceptible? And is there anything you can do about it? Let’s dig a little deeper.
The precise pathophysiology of migraine headaches is not known, but some suggest an elevated level of inflammation , an overall oxidative state , and mitochondrial dysfunction may be underlying causes.
Migraines have been linked to inflammatory diseases, and oxidative stress has been shown to play a role in the development of migraine and many other diseases. A 2016 study examined whether frequently cited migraine triggers – stress, poor sleep, and dehydration – produce oxidative stress in the brain. The review found that some triggers create oxidative stress and some of the systems that generate that stress may include mitochondrial dysfunction.
Think of mitochondria as the ‘energy factory’ of the body. When mitochondria don’t do what they are supposed to, our bodies don’t have the energy needed to function correctly. Studies this one and this one have found mitochondrial metabolism dysfunction in people who suffer from migraines. Another survey discovered that the pervasiveness of headaches and migraines was higher in people living with a mitochondrial disease than those who don’t.
As we mentioned, certain foods can trigger migraines, and nutrition plays a role in the condition’s onset. Research indicates that mitochondrial co-factors – that is, nutrients that support mitochondria function – can help prevent migraines or improve migraine symptoms. These include magnesium, coenzyme Q10, and riboflavin.
One study found migraine patients had lower levels of magnesium compared to those who did not experience migraines. In addition, people living with severe migraines had lower magnesium levels than those with milder migraines.
In another study , patients were treated with coenzyme Q10 over three months. Sixty-one percent of patients experienced a greater than 50 percent reduction in the number of days with migraine.
Riboflavin’s potential to benefit those with migraines has also been confirmed in controlled clinical trials.
Migraine treatment founded on functional medicine principles
Under a functional medicine approach, each patient is treated as an individual, complete with unique lifestyle, environmental, genetic, and biochemical quirks. I don’t focus on the short-term alleviation of symptoms. Instead, I work together with a multi-discipline team to tackle the root cause of the disease. Instead of reaching for the pain medication, we give you the tools you need to reimagine your lifestyle and redirect the trajectory of your health.
What does that look like in the context of migraine treatment? Less pain, fewer migraines, and restored function through holistic, individualized strategies that support healthy mitochondrial function and uncover triggers.
Start the journey toward your best life today
Have you spent years searching for answers about your chronic migraines to no avail? Has doctor after doctor told you there’s no way of preventing frequent headaches? Are you sick of migraines preventing you from making memories with those you love?
If you answered yes to any of the above, please get in contact with my incredible team. We believe in treating the cause of diseases, and we’ve helped countless patients reach their health goals and live their best lives.
Regardless of what you’ve been told, there are solutions. My team and I are here to give you the answers you deserve and set you up for long-term success. Our approach is founded on functional medicine and backed by scientific evidence and leading-edge laboratory and medical technology.
Schedule your initial consultation and start your journey to better health today.