Stop a Migraine in its tracks

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A  migraine can be quite ­unbearable — the blood vessels around your brain expand and begin to irritate the tissue and nerves around, causing the pain. So, if you, or someone you know, suffers from migraines and headaches, be sure to check out these warning signs, tips and remedies.

The exact cause of a migraine is unknown. Researchers believe that it’s a neurological problem. ­However, a number of factors can trigger pain, some of which include tension or stress, hormonal or environmental changes, long-term exposure to the sun, lack of sleep, consumption of alcohol and certain foods as well as skipped meals and poor diet.

Types of headache

There are several types of headache. Each has a distinct symptom and treatment.

In a common headache, the pain usually occurs across the forehead. While in stress headaches, pain runs from the top of the neck all the way up to the top of the skull.

Migraines: Intense pain on one side of the head, always repeated in the same area. It is accompanied by disturbances of vision and hearing, nausea and vomiting.

Headaches due to digestive problems: Headache accompanied by stomach, kidney, intestinal and gallbladder aliments, and sometimes linked with overindulgence in alcohol, food sensitivities and food additives.

Tension headaches: These muscle contraction headaches cause mild to moderate pain from the neck to the forehead.

Sinus headaches: Inflammation of the lining of one of the eight sinus cavities can cause a deep, dull, chronic ache around the eyes, nose and head.

Between men and women, who is more prone to migraines; who experiences more pain; Whose migraines last the longest?

Women suffer from migraine three times as often as men, about 25 per cent of women and 8 per cent of men suffer from migraine.

The statistics of the Migraine Buddy, an advanced medical app used to track and record migraines, say that 35 per cent of men report physical exertion as a migraine cause, while women blame the weather. Women experience longer and higher level of pain. A large proportion of men do not take medication to treat the pain. Men feel more depressed and sensitive to light, while women feel more nauseous and are sensitive to smell.

The triggers

A number of factors such as food, menstruation, alcohol, stress and lack of sleep, may trigger a migraine. Migraines can also be caused by factors such as hormonal imbalance, cardiovascular problems or inflammation.

Symptoms

When you are about to experience a migraine, there are certain signs to look out for. If you experience disabling and recurring headaches, intense throbbing on one side of the head, visual disturbance, nausea, neck pain or sinus symptoms, take action immediately to stop your migraine in its tracks. On this note, if you experience many of these signs, seek proper diagnosis from a healthcare professional.

 Home remedies

For a simple but effective remedy, you could try a glass of lemon juice with Himalayan crystal salt. If this drink is not to your liking, try the green smoothie, which has been hailed a “miracle migraine drink.” Blend half a pineapple, 3 to 4 Kale leaves, 1 stick celery, half a cucumber and some ginger root, to make the green smoothie.

Food to avoid

Food plays an important role in triggering a migraine. It’s therefore important to seek out the nutritional information labels on each product to determine whether they contain the following:

Monosodium glutamate: Potato chips, frozen food, salt flavoured snacks, etc.

Caffeine: Protein bars, coffee, sodas, flavoured water and energy drinks.

Tyramine:  Chocolate, alcoholic beverages and fermented foods such as cheese.

Sodium nitrate: Beef, bacon, sausage, canned food.

Aspartame: Diet soda and other soft drinks, instant breakfast food, breath mints, cereals, frozen desserts and gelatine.

Food to consume

Research shows that people with migraines often have low levels of magnesium. In fact, magnesium is thought to affect changes in the blood vessels in the brain. Supplements are at times recommended, but for a more natural alternative, up your magnesium level with dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yogurt, bananas, dried fruit and dark chocolate.

 Exercise

Exercise forms an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Dedicate at least 20 minutes of the day for yoga. Yoga is a great way to help those suffering from headaches.

The writer is Past President,Rotary Bangalore Indira Nagar.

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