How to Win the War Against Migraines

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Physical pain is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to consume our lives. Unfortunately, many people feel trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of pain with only brief periods of short-term relief. Relief soon gives way to more pain, and the sufferer is left to find another mode of short-term relief. This cycle is all too familiar to those who suffer from migraines. 

Migraines can and do affect people differently. In some cases migraines are seldom. A person may only suffer one or two migraines over the course of multiple years. For others, however, migraines are chronic, debilitating occurrences that need proper treatment and prevention.

Chronic problems like migraines can often leave people asking themselves, “Do I need health insurance?” This is also something worth considering when creating a plan to combat chronic migraines.

Migraine vs. Headache

For those who are unfamiliar with migraines, it can be easy to equate them with headaches. This comparison, however, is not a true comparison of these ailments. Both migraines and headaches cause pain in the head and neck, but from there, they are two very different animals. 

What is a migraine?

The key markers of a migraine are a throbbing pain, usually in one area of the head, face, or neck. Coupled with that pain is a sensitivity to light and sound which can cause nausea and vomiting in some sufferers. The intensity and effects of migraines vary for each person, but those who have migraines know and understand the pain.

Migraines can be caused by certain aspects of a person’s life. These are called triggers. Triggers vary from person to person, but common ones include hormones, food and diet, stress, and even exercise. Identifying triggers can be helpful in controlling migraines, but that is only one small step in preventing them.

What is a headache?

Headaches, on the other hand, are much more broad in definition and symptoms. Headaches cause pain or pressure in any area of the head. There may be other symptoms associated with headaches, but they vary greatly. Headaches have different causes, but they are rarely connected to underlying issues or medical concerns. 

Headaches aren’t really an enjoyable alternative to migraines, but migraines tend to be more intense and more frequent. Migraine sufferers have to find a way to relieve the pain and symptoms associated with the condition and prevention methods to keep more frequent occurrences at bay.

Relief Options

Relief is always the first step in combating migraines in the short term. There are a number of relief options available, but it’s usually a trial-and-error situation. Some relief options work for some people, but not others. It’s important to try treatment options while trying to find relief for current and future migraines.

There is research to suggest that a migraine could be a body’s way of calling for caffeine. Stopping a usual or consistent intake of caffeine may cause a migraine. If this is the cause of migraines some of the pain and symptoms can be alleviated by a cup of your favorite coffee.  

Caffeine is also found in over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen products. All these medications can be used to treat the pain and inflammation associated with migraines. Prescription medications like sumatriptan and rizatriptan are also available for people who suffer extremely intense or frequent migraines. These medications work to block the pain pathways in the brain to prevent migraines from occurring or intensifying. 

Those who prefer to use more natural methods of relief might consider CBD oil for migraines. CBD is still a developing area of treatment or prevention for many ailments, but there is research to suggest it has great benefits for the treatment of migraines.

Preventive Measures

The prevention side of migraines is an important step in living with less pain and fewer missed days. Learning to prevent migraines and identify possible triggers involves a learning curve and will take time. There are a number of proven management techniques that you can try to help identify the best prevention plan for you.

Stress Management 

Stress is a proven contributor to migraines. It’s important to focus on activities and strategies that lessen stress levels. Low-impact exercises are a great way to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the day. Taking daily walks or implementing yoga and meditation into your routine can help reduce stress. 

There are other stress-lowering activities that can be helpful in combating migraines. A therapist can lessen mental stress. Therapists can also provide strategies you can use to cope with stress when it becomes overwhelming and before a migraine takes over. Massage and acupuncture can also be added to a weekly or monthly routine to help lower stress.

Better Sleep

It may be a tired adage now, but focusing on getting better sleep can help in the fight against migraines. A lack of sleep or restless sleep can cause major problems in everyday life. Less sleep also leaves the door open for migraines to take root.

There are some strategies that can be used to help encourage better sleep. A quick yoga session before bed can help release tension and relax the mind. Meditation can also be used in a similar way and can help with sleep issues. 

Diet Changes 

There are elements of your diet that can increase the frequency of migraines. Research shows that caffeine and alcohol can be major contributors to migraines. If you are sensitive to those elements, then chocolate can also be a trigger. Processed foods like meat and cheese can also be an issue. Identifying these triggers requires some trial and error, so keep a food and migraine diary to help identify which food may be the issue. 

If the thought of losing coffee causes some anxiety and distress, there are other caffeinated options that may not cause migraines. The discussion of green tea vs. coffee is a hot debate, but research does show some promising results from green tea. 

Exercise

Exercise is a great stress reliever and can reduce hormone issues that could result in migraines. It is important to not introduce overly strenuous exercises because that stress can result in migraines. Consider exercises like yoga, swimming, and cycling. These exercises provide great health benefits and can help reduce frequent migraines.

Avoid Triggers 

Once you have identified the triggers, avoid them when possible. Implementing stress management techniques and an exercise routine, ensuring you get adequate sleep, and cleaning up the elements of your diet are important changes to make. These changes can help fight off frequent migraines and bring brighter days.

There are triggers like changes in weather and atmospheric pressure that can’t be avoided. When these triggers become a factor in your daily life, plan ahead and be aware of the effects these things may have on you.

Health Insurance and Migraines

Migraines are rarely cause for concern. Making changes to your lifestyle and working closely with a medical professional can help mitigate frequent migraines. The partnership with a medical professional can require  frequent appointments and medication, which can become a financial drain. In these instances, health insurance can help offset some of those costs and ensure you have access to quality medical treatment. 

Health insurance can be something offered by your employer. Contact your human resources department for more specific information regarding the insurance policies offered. If insurance is not available through your employer or the policies are not offered, there is always the open market. You can work with an independent agent to identify your needs and discuss possible coverage options and costs. 

Laura Gunn writes and researches about life and health insurance for the insurance education and free quote comparison site, TheTruthAboutInsurance.com. She has struggled with chronic migraines for years. She is passionate about educating people and helping fellow sufferers find a proactive plan to combat migraines.

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