Headaches have plagued almost every individual at one point or another. They often disrupt your day and make it difficult for you to concentrate or carry out certain activities. For normal headaches, some over-the-counter medication or a good night's rest usually remedies the situation. When it comes to a migraine headache, however, the pain can be so much more severe and debilitating.
Unfortunately, according to the American Migraine Foundation, approximately 12 percent of the American population suffer from migraine headaches - that's 36 million Americans! To prevent - or at least minimize - the occurrences of these crippling, painful headaches, it is important to understand what potentially causes them and how to alleviate the pain should you be subjected to one. Here, you will understand some of the most common triggers for migraine headaches, followed by some popular and helpful remedies that many people swear by:
Many of us start the day off with a fresh cup of coffee. Caffeine can help us get through the most difficult parts of the day, but some fail to realize that caffeine withdrawal can be the cause of migraines that occur later on in the day or evening. The National Headache Foundation recommends that people with regular headaches should avoid caffeine consumption on a daily basis, and to limit their intake.
MSG And Greasy Foods
Certain foods can cause the onset of a migraine, but each person may be triggered by different foods. One common food trigger, however, seems to be MSG. According to WebMD, "This is a food additive found in a wide range of processed, packaged, and restaurant foods. It's used to enhance flavor. It's also been shown to cause migraines in up to 15 percent of people." So, try to check ingredient lists if you can, and avoid eating fast food.
Migraines triggered from bright lights are actually more commonplace than you think. Not only do they bring on a migraine, but continued exposure to intense lighting can make your headache exponentially more painful. If the lighting in your workplace seems much brighter than they need to be, try talking to your boss to see if they can switch to different bulbs. You might be saving a lot of silent sufferers at the office!
Weather constantly changes throughout the year, but sometimes you will experience a particularly cold or windy day that almost certainly makes your migraine appear. The Mayo Clinic explains, "Weather changes may cause imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin, which can prompt a migraine. Weather-related triggers also may worsen a headache caused by other triggers." So, try to avoid going out if you know that the weather is going to be particularly unpleasant or extreme.
Many scents that we love and enjoy can actually cause migraines or make them worse, unfortunately. This includes perfumes, air fresheners, and the mouth-watering aroma of food being cooked - particularly fried or fatty foods. Unpleasant odors, such as cigarette smoke and the scents of cleaning products, can also trigger painful headaches. Particularly if you constantly suffer from migraines, it is important to avoid exposure to all these synthetic fragrances whenever you can.
If you've ever suffered a migraine, you probably know that surrounding noises only make it so much worse. However, people often don't consider that loud noises cause painful headaches in the first place. Being in a place with roaring music, having the television blasting, or being subject to the ear-splitting construction noises next to you are all common triggers that can lead to a painful and unpleasant migraine. If you feel that a migraine headache is impending, try to get away from excess noises and go somewhere quiet.
With such common, everyday items and occurrences being responsible for migraines, how can you possibly escape this terrible wrath? Are you doomed to suffer from painful headaches no matter what, you ask? Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to relieve migraines without the use of prescription medications.
Cold Or Hot Compress
The quickest and easiest way to soothe the pain is a hot or cold compress. The Mayo Clinic suggests to "apply hot or cold compresses to your head or neck. Ice packs have a numbing effect, which may dull the sensation of pain. Hot packs and heating pads can relax tense muscles." If you constantly suffer from migraines, make sure that you have a hot or cold compress handy all the time.
Acupuncture targets pressure points in our bodies, so they may actually help to alleviate the pressure and pain that is causing a migraine. If you are not afraid of a few needles, then consider acupuncture treatments to help with your headaches.
Our trusty jar of VapoRub never ceases to save the day. While many of us keep VapoRub on hand to relieve a stuffy nose or soothe our sore chests during a cold, few think to use it to relieve a migraine. If you are experiencing a headache, simply massage your temples and forehead with VapoRub - the menthol from it should lift the pressure that is causing the pain in your head.
Taking A Bath Or Shower
Hydrotherapy has been shown to be an effective means of relieving migraines and headaches. Many people suggest alternating between hot showers and ice baths, and to soak your hands in hot water for 15 minutes when you feel a migraine coming on. "Soaking your hands in hot water at the first sign of a migraine helps to regulate circulation and can avert a full-blown migraine episode," Health Assist suggests.
Those who subscribe to European folk medicine swear by raw potato shavings in combatting migraines. Traditionally, the potatoes are sliced and enveloped in a thin cloth. Then, it is wrapped around the head or massaged on the temples to alleviate the pressure and the pain.
Craniosacral therapy - massaging the skull and scalp - has proven to be quite useful in alleviating pain from migraines. "Your nerve endings get some touchy-feely attention, which soothes the nerves and lessens the pain waves they send," says Migraines for Dummies.
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