If you’ve ever experienced or suffered from really painful and severe headaches, such as migraines, I’m sure that you’ve tried everything to prevent migraine triggers and/or delay the onset of one. Migraine headaches can be debilitating and strike at any time; they can make you nauseous, extremely sensitive to light, touch and sound. Sometimes they fall in sync with a woman’s menstrual cycle or you know when one will come. However, determining what will prevent migraine triggers is an important step in the process to fewer migraines and their ultimate relief.
One of the top ways to prevent migraine triggers is by staying cool on long, hot days. Whenever the temperature increases on a warm day, your chances of a migraine increase. A 2009 study published in the medical journal Neurology found that the risk for severe headaches increased about 7.5% whenever there was a 9˚F temperature increase. The body sends more blood and oxygen to the skin to cool it down, so it flows away from the brain. As the warmer days approach, try staying inside in the air-conditioning and remember to drink lots of water.
Continuing on from staying cool, keeping hydrated is equally as crucial, especially for those prone to migraines. Dehydration causes blood to become thicker, resulting in reduced flow of oxygen to the brain, and an increase in the migraine-triggering brain chemical, serotonin. In a 2005 study in the Netherlands, migraine patients that drank 1.5 liters more of water per day saw a reduced intensity and duration of their headaches.
As most migraine sufferers know, foods like blue cheese and grapefruit can trigger an attack. Cheddar, Swiss, salami and bologna all contain tyramine, an amino acid known to increase blood flow to the brain. “People who suffer from migraines are sensitive to blood-flow changes,” says Alexander Mauskop, M.D., director of the New York Headache Center in New York City. “It may be because their nervous systems are more excitable, and changes affect the nerve endings in blood vessel walls.” So when you’re reaching for a sandwich in the middle of the day, consider a different type of cheese or go for fresh meats. Try keeping a food diary to help you narrow down exactly which food might be the culprit.
People that suffer from migraines tend to have lower levels of magnesium in their bloodstream. Our bodies require about 400 mg of magnesium per day, and if you think you’re not getting enough, try taking a supplement. You can add more magnesium-rich foods to your diet, by including more green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, whole grains, fish or eating seeds and nuts. Tip: anything that contains a lot of fiber is usually a magnesium-rich food.
It’s a fact that headaches usually strike at that time of the month and for migraine sufferers, one will typically occur right before or during their period. Headaches and migraines happen as a result of a drop in the body’s estrogen levels. Again, magnesium supplements will work well here or you can try taking an ibuprofen literally right before you feel the onset of your headache. You can also talk to your doctor about contraceptive pills that help maintain the estrogen levels, to ensure they don’t drop as much each month.
I’m sure we all know our posture and the way our spine is aligned will affect our nervous system and its ability to communicate. Practicing good ergonomics in our cars, at the office, even when we’re out walking will help ease and prevent migraine triggers. Setting your computer monitor to the top of the screen just below eye level will certainly help, as will taking those recommended breaks and stretching every fifteen minutes or so. Get in the habit of blinking more frequently, or use lubricating eye drops to avoid eye-strain and any headaches associated with them.
Following on from point six, tension in the body can build up, particularly in the neck and shoulders, and if you are a frequent migraine sufferer, it could be a result of the spinal bones in the neck not supporting the head properly. If you have a reduced ability to turn your head, it is likely that you have some subluxations in the neck, that in turn affect the nerves, muscles and blood flow to the brain. Maybe consult a chiropractor for an assessment and treatment or try getting relief with regular massages.
With the right lifestyle changes, eating more magnesium–rich foods, staying hydrated and trying out acupuncture or regular chiropractic sessions can all help prevent migraine triggers. I’ve even heard that masturbating can help prevent an attack! What are some ways you prevent your migraines?
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