Friday, July 24, 2009

Migraine Headaches

For most of my life, I suffered through daily headaches, including migraine headaches. As a kid in school, there was hardly ever a day missed where I didn't suffer from a headache in the afternoon. While Tylenol, aspirin and other over the counter things were tried, they gave me very little relief. Usually, it meant just living with them and at some point (normally by the next morning) they would go away.

As I got older, the migraines started in. I had witnessed my parents suffer through migraines and so I just assumed that popular medical science was correct in stating that migraine headaches were hereditary. I figured, I would live with these the rest of my life just as my parents did.

When my mom died, the frequency, intensity, and duration of the migraine headaches increased. It wasn't long before I was missing days of work, taking trips to the emergency room and taking prescription Imitrex to function in life. I still remember sitting on the bathroom floor at massage school puking my guts out and just wishing I would die as the migraine headache continued to intensify. I could not even drive myself home that night let alone it was almost impossible to walk out of the building to get in my friend's car.

As I continued to talk to people who suffered from migraine headaches, one thing became achingly clear to me. These people were struggling to find relief from anything that worked. Prescription medications as well as injections would work initially but then after some time, these things offered little or no relief. I still remember my horror and shock at hearing these things because I could not imagine going through them with out something that took the pain away. So my quest began to find ways to not have to suffer from these headaches and migraines. I was not at a point where I thought they would ever go away but if I was able to slow them down and decrease the intensity of them, I would consider that a great joy in life.

In the following article posted on CNN, Headache Prevention - Headache Awareness, they list many good things to consider in the treatment and prevention of headaches.

Common Triggers

  • Stress
  • Drinking alcohol/red wine
  • Sensory overload — exposure to bright lights, loud sounds, strong smells
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Too much sleep or not enough sleep
  • Exercising too rigorously
  • Hormonal changes
  • Not eating frequently enough
  • Smoking
  • Straining your eyes reading or sitting at a computer
  • A difference in your caffeine intake
  • Food additives or naturally-occurring substances, including nitrates in processed meats, MSG in fast food and Chinese food, tyramine found in certain aged cheeses and soy-based foods, and the artificial sweetener aspartame

Headache Prevention
  • Good posture
  • Move around during the day
  • Use the right pillows at night when you sleep
  • Stay consistent in your life with your
  • Get an appropriate amount of sleep
  • Stick to an exercise routine
  • Healthy diet
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Stay away from caffeine, soft drinks, tea
  • Manage stress

These common triggers and prevention techniques are all good but unless you find a way to get to the underlying cause of the headaches, they will continue. Stress, in addition to diet and exercise is a very good place to start. Even if you are unsure of how to get relief from your headaches, begin today to do something. For when you begin that process and if you allow yourself to learn and go from one step to the next, you'll most likely be as surprised as I have when you no longer suffer from these.

For me, I gave up on the medications because I could quickly see that they were not going to solve the problem. I began to see a chiropractor, Dr. Canali in South Miami and while I did not initially go because of the migraines, it helped me greatly. I'm not saying that I don't ever get severe headaches but I don't get them on a daily basis nor do they get as intense as they were getting. I've learned as well, how to deal with the stress in my life as well as the underlying causes. Life is so much better since these have gone away. Most importantly, I found out that migraine headaches are not a life sentence and they don't have to haunt you each and every day of your life. In addition, I don't have to rely on medications to take care of them either.

If you are suffering from headaches, don't just accept the fact that some "cause" is the end all to them and there is nothing you can do. Don't accept that for a moment! Know that in many cases, there is so much more you can do than you might be aware of and allow yourself to hunt for the right solution in your own life. Just don't settle for the status quo and for medication as a long term fix. Like I shared in this, I thought it was a life sentance but have since found out that it is not. That just makes me want to get up and dance the happy dance!

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