View article

5 Things to Know About Migraines 

Did you know that three times more women than men get migraine headaches? Staying hydrated and eating regularly (every four hours) to avoid drops in blood sugar can go a long way toward preventing migraines. Here are some things you need to know about migraines so you may beat them early. 

1. A migraine is more than head pain. 

Beyond just a really bad headache, a migraine comes with a host of other symptoms. In addition to throbbing and pulsing (often on one side of the head), you might also have sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, even a runny nose and watery eyes. Research found that 80% of people diagnosed with sinusitis actually had migraines. Migraine sufferers can also experience an “aura,” in which you see wavy or jagged lines, dots or flashing lights or have tunnel vision; this can start up to an hour before the pain kicks in. 

2. Weather and food are two major triggers. 

Blame it on the rain: Heat and humidity can cause brain chemical imbalances that bring on a migraine. Many foods are also suspects, including processed meats (like cold cuts), fermented or pickled foods, aged cheeses, chocolate and alcohol, as they can inflame and dilate, or open up, blood vessels. Also, two-thirds of women who get migraines say they occur around their periods thanks to hormonal fluctuations, says Paul Schulz, M.D., a professor in the department of neurology at the University of Texas Medical School. 

3. The earlier you treat it, the better. 

Taking an over-the-counter med like aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen or a migraine-specific formula the minute you feel the migraine coming on can help stop it from becoming a full-blown attack, says Roger Cady, M.D., former associate executive chairman of the National Headache Foundation and director of the Headache Care Center in Springfield, Missouri. Once the headache takes hold, you might need a more potent prescription pill. Triptans, which work by blocking pain pathways in the brain and prompting your blood vessels to constrict, are the most effective and commonly prescribed. When digestive symptoms (nausea, vomiting) hit, a triptan nose spray, inhaler or injection might be necessary so your body can fully absorb the medication. 

4. Taking too much medicine can backfire. 

On the flip side, using pain relievers too often (more than two to three times a week) can actually cause a migraine; that’s called a rebound headache. If you get three or more migraines per month, talk to your doctor about taking meds preventively. Doctors usually turn to meds that are FDA-approved for migraines and are also used to treat seizures, high blood pressure or depression. Botox is approved for those who have 15 or more migraines per month. 

5. Alternative treatments can also work. 

Two of the most promising: acupuncture, in which tiny needles are inserted at specific points of your body and can release feel-good endorphins; and biofeedback, where you’re connected to sensors that indicate your body’s stress levels (which can be a trigger) so you can relieve tension through deep breathing. 

© Meredith Operations Corporation. All rights reserved. Used with permission. 


The content on this page is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be relied on as medical advice. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, evaluation, or treatment of a qualified health-care provider. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition, or if you are seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You should consult a qualified health professional regarding health conditions or concerns, and before starting a new diet or health program. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information obtained is accurate. If you have or suspect you may have allergies or medical issues which may be affected by certain foods, find you may have or be experiencing side effects, you should promptly contact your health care provider. Statements within this article have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration.