For many years it was thought that migraines were a woman’s disease. Women were diagnosed with migraines when they were pregnant or they had become very stressed but it was believed that men rarely experienced a migraine. Today, we know that to be untrue and that men are also prone to experiencing migraine headaches, although not at the rate that women do. In an online survey conducted by the National Headache Foundation researchers found that men diagnosed with headache of some kind, were most often diagnosed with migraine headaches.
Those who suffered through migraines will report that they are debilitating and often life altering. Despite this fact, men often take a more silent approach and are not willing to discuss their condition with healthcare providers. Almost one third of all men who suffer from headaches, according to the online survey, have never reported them to their primary care physician. They believed that it was a sign of weakness and not important enough to require the care of a doctor.
Thankfully, with today’s advances in technology and research, there is migraine relief that can be offered to both men and women. The first step in finding relief of these debilitating headaches is to determine your individual triggers. By figuring out your triggers you can also help to prevent the majority of headaches you may experience.
Recognize that most common triggers are food, stress, environmental changes, weather changes and amount of sleep. By keeping a simple journal and writing down things that happened just before you have a headache, including any foods, and exposure to environmental toxins, increased stress or lack of sleep, most individuals are able to pinpoint the factors which most commonly trigger a migraine for them. Many individuals also find that there will be more than one trigger.
If you have been unable to prevent a migraine by staying away from all triggers the next goal in migraine relief is to alleviate the pain after it has begun and before it gets worse. The goals are to relieve the pain quickly, prevent any nausea or vomiting and provide the most cost effective and sustained relief possible.
Many people are able to find relief using over-the-counter medications while others require prescription strength pain relief. Some of the over-the-counter pain relief medicines include ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen and caffeine.
However, it is also important to use caution when using over-the-counter medications because they can sometimes contribute to the development of a headache or worsening of the symptoms. Overuse of some over-the-counter medications can also cause a rebound headache. If you are taking any over-the-counter medication more than three times a week see your primary care physician about another means of both preventing and treating migraine headaches.
When you feel a migraine headache coming on it’s important to act immediately. The faster you act to prevent the migraine from progressing the more effective the pain relief will be. Never try to “tough it out” when you have a migraine headache because not only will it make the pain worse but you may end up stuck somewhere unable to get home because of pain and nausea.
Pay attention to the responses your body is giving you to the medications and other alternatives treatment protocols you may be trying to find relief for your migraine. You can often tell immediately if something is, or is not, working. If there is a medication of treatment you are taking that is making you feel worse then stop immediately.
People who suffer from migraines report that they feel better when they’re able to shut down, stop what you’re doing and find a quiet place to rest. When you are home, your own bedroom is often the best place, but if you’re away from home anyplace you feel comfortable and safe can work. Cool the room off, darken room for your eyes and turn off anything that is making noise. Migraines make it feel as if you are in “sensory overload”. This means that any noises, lights, and smell can all cause more pain. Getting into a cool, dark and quiet environment you will minimize the number of things that will irritate your senses and increase the pain.
You can also cool your body down by using an ice pack on the back of the neck and at the base of the skull. Some people also find relief by using a cold wet washcloth over there for head and covering their eyes. Migraines are actually different than normal headaches because the blood vessels will dilate, or get bigger, during a migraine rather than constrict, or get smaller, like they do during a normal headaches. Icing a regular headache will make it worse but will help a migraine by counteracting the effect on the blood vessels.
Many people also find relief from their migraines by attempting to get some sleep. Lying as quietly as possible, relaxing your body and quieting your mind you may be able to fall asleep. Sleep seems to act like a reset button and will help to change the amount of pain you’re experiencing from the migraine.
Speak with your primary care physician or neurologist about the type of medication relief that you would like to try. There is symptomatic relief where medications are used to treat the headache pain or symptoms of migraine, such as nausea, and there are abortive therapies which are medications used to stop the made migraine completely.
With the improved medical care, technology and research that has gone into how to find relief for an individual’s migraine pain most sufferers are able to accomplish good pain relief within a matter of an hour or two. Sometimes abortive medicine are effective for individuals who are able to recognize the signs an aura of a migraine before it even began while others find great relief from over-the-counter medications or physiological changes they can make based on the manipulation of their environment. The best migraine pain relief comes from knowing your body, understanding what works for you and keeping a log of your triggers so that you can avoid them at all costs.
Migraine Research Foundation
DailyMed Current Medication INformation: Equate