Tips for living with migraine
Neurology If you suffer from migraine try to educate yourself about your condition; a good self management programme is often the key to reducing the frequency and intensity of your migraine attacks.
Migraine is so much more than just a headache and is a complex neurological condition. Information is power, and a good self management programme is often the key to reducing the frequency and intensity of your migraine attacks.
- Learn about your condition. The website of the Migraine Association provides independent advice and information on your condition.
- Keep a migraine diary to try to identify your triggers or patterns of attacks. There are many online migraine diary apps which people find useful such as Curelator or Migraine Buddy.
- Learn to recognise your symptoms so you will know when an attack is about to happen so you can take your medication at the correct time and put your prevention plan in place before the attack is too severe.
- Do not go for long periods of time without eating. In the past there was an emphasis on the types of food people were eating as potential triggers such as chocolate, cheese or red wine. While some people still feel certain foods will trigger an attack, the consensus now is that the gap between meals is a more important potential trigger. Keep some nutritious snacks such as sunflower seeds or cereal bars to hand throughout the day.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration is a trigger for migraines. Sometimes at busy or stressful times we forget to drink water but it is an essential daily ritual for the migraine sufferer.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet and reduce the amount of processed foods you consume. Nitrates, chemicals, additives and elements such as MSG can trigger migraine attacks. A healthy diet will also provide you with key nutrients such as magnesium and B Vitamins which are essential for brain health and overall wellbeing.
- Stress is a proven trigger for migraines. Stress reduction techniques such as a regular mindfulness practise, mediation or yoga can form part of a successful migraine management plan.
- Keep regular sleep patterns. It is not the amount of sleep you receive but the regularity of your sleep pattern that is a potential trigger for migraine. Changes in sleep patterns at weekends and holidays can trigger attacks so try to keep a regular sleep pattern even when your daily work/life pattern changes.
- Assess your workplace as a potential triggering environment. Fluorescent lights and flickering computer screens can trigger migraine attacks. Some people find certain smells and air-conditioning can also cause attacks. Ensure you have healthy snacks and water to hand throughout the day at work. Talk to your employer or the occupational health nurse to see what modifications and adaptations can be made to make your workplace more migraine friendly.
- Get regular exercise. Oxygen is hugely beneficial to your brain health. Regular exercise can help prevent the frequency and intensity of your migraine attacks. Some people favour the gym but many migraine sufferers find that outdoors exercise is more beneficial to their condition. If you feel an attack is imminent a moderate outdoor walk can often stave off the attack or reduce the length and intensity of the attack.