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How to prevent migraines

A headache can ruin your evening, but migraines can ruin your entire weekend — as 29.5 million Americans have discovered, according to the Office on Women’s Health. Migraine symptoms include frequent headaches, but they can also cause nausea, light sensitivity, dizziness, and fatigue. With symptoms like these, it is important to know how to prevent migraines from happening.

What are Migraines?

The pain of a migraine can be unforgettable. For many people, the pain begins as a dull ache and then progresses to sharp, throbbing pain. The pain can be all over the head but is typically on one side. What distinguishes migraines from other headaches is the severity of the pain and the other symptoms that migraines cause.

To know how to treat a migraine, it is helpful first to identify the many migraine causes. Some of the most common triggers, according to the American Migraine Foundation, are:

  • Decreased sleep or changes in sleep pattern
  • Increased stress and anxiety
  • Hormonal changes
  • Caffeine or alcohol
  • Changes in the weather
  • Specific foods such as aged cheeses, fermented foods, chocolate, yeast breads, artificial sweeteners, and lunch meats
  • Dehydration
  • Light, especially bright or flashing lights
  • Strong smells (perfumes, smoke, cleaning chemicals)
  • Certain medications (birth control, heart medications)
  • Continuous use of migraine medications

As you can see from this list, a migraine can occur simply from everyday life events. Some things can be controlled, such as the foods you eat, but many things are out of a person’s control.

Why Do People Get Migraines?

The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that women get migraines three times more often than men do. It also reports that those with mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, are more likely to suffer from migraines.

When a migraine trigger happens, the pain is not always immediate. Sometimes, there is an aura that occurs first. A migraine aura is a pre-migraine event that is like a warning signal. For some people, this can cause tingling on the side of the body, difficulty speaking, brain fog, or seeing spots and flashing lights.

Are Migraines Contagious?

Migraines are not contagious like the cold and flu virus; you cannot catch a migraine, as no virus causes it. However, there can be a genetic component to migraines, and if family members have migraines, you may be more likely to get them.

Preventing Migraines

If you are wondering what helps prevent headaches, you need to know some medications that can help. Migraine prevention medications can help reduce the number of migraines that you get. These are prescription-based medications such as propranolol, topiramate, and divalproex sodium. To see if you are a candidate for these medicines, you should speak to a physician.

Treating Migraines

Three new migraine medications were released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2018, according to Harvard University. These medicines must be injected at home (like giving yourself an insulin shot), and are reserved for those who do not respond to traditional medications.

Migraine treatment is multifaceted; many people have found that a combination of prescription-based therapy, home-based care, and alternative therapies is helpful. Migraine relief at home often begins with a daily diary. Writing down the foods that you eat and recording your activities can help your physician pinpoint possible triggers. Some people have found relief through natural remedies such as hot or cold compresses, ginger tea, magnesium supplements, and drinking extra fluids.

Alternative therapies are becoming more popular for those who want gentler treatment. Many people have found relief through yoga exercises (like yin yoga) and acupuncture. The Canadian Medical Association Journal found that acupuncture was just as effective as a beta-blocker in treating migraines. It is important to note that acupuncture should be provided by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) providers. TCM providers have years of training in acupuncture versus those with dry needling experience who are typically trained in a weekend.

If you suffer from migraines or have symptoms that make you suspect that you may have migraines, you should consider seeking the help of a medical professional. The telehealth technology used by Alpha Medical provides instant access to doctors who can diagnose migraines from the comfort of your home and prescribe medications that can be shipped directly to your door.

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Alpha Medical is a telemedicine company that provides instant access to doctors who can diagnose and treat over 70% of conditions online, including mental health, primary care, skin & hair, and urgent care.

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