Nothing is worse than a migraine headache. Ask anyone who suffers from them. Unlike the annoying occasional tension headache, a migraine is much more painful and often debilitating. According to the National Headache Foundation more than 37 million Americans suffer from migraines, with women being three times more likely than men to be affected. The average age range of migraine sufferers is between 15 and 55 years old.
Migraines are acute recurrent headaches and can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours and, in some cases, even longer. Normally there is throbbing head pain in only one area of the head and nausea or vomiting may also be present. Additionally, migraines tend to create extra sensitivity to light or sound, or both.
Some of the most common triggers for headaches of any kind are:
- Insufficient sleep
- Not drinking enough water
- Schedule changes
- Prescription medications
- Food preservatives and additives such as MSG (frequently found in Chinese food), Aspartame (Nutra Sweet), nitrates (usually in bacon, hot dogs and luncheon meats), and Tyramine (found in yogurt, sour cream and aged cheeses)
- Some foods such as chocolate, red wine, fatty foods and dairy
While there are many over the counter medications as well as prescription drugs that are commonly used to treat migraines, it’s important to note that these medications merely mask the symptoms and do not cure the patient. Not to mention the fact that in a large number of cases these medications fail to ease the pain of the headache while simultaneously creating an array of unpleasant side effects.
The best way to deal with frequent headaches, migraine or otherwise, is to first eliminate the possible triggers. Adopt a regular sleep schedule, drink plenty of water and cut out any potential foods that may be contributing to the problem. In addition, if you can incorporate some form of light physical exercise into your day, like yoga, you may find that your headaches completely disappear or at least are greatly reduced in their frequency.
If the above suggestions do not work and especially if your headaches are becoming more frequent and/or getting worse in intensity, it’s time to see your doctor.