Did you know that three out of four people who experience migraines are women?
Not only is our biological makeup more prone to migraines (specifically how our hormone levels fluctuate), but women also have more nerve receptors than men meaning when we experience pain, it’s more powerful and acute.
Does that mean that we just have to suffer through our migraines, popping more pain pills, taking more days off of work, and analyzing every piece of food we let into our bodies to make sure it’s not a trigger?
This was my life for two decades. So I know all of that well. I suffered migraines starting at age 8, and for all of my 20s, I consistently had 3-5 migraines a week. When I was 29, I had a migraine that started and didn’t go away for an entire year.
However, now at age 40, I can honestly say that it’s been many years since I had a migraine, and I do not take any medication now.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. Once you understand the root cause of your migraines, you can, just like me, eliminate them once and for all.
But until then, what can you do to relieve migraine pain or prevent them from overtaking your life? Here are 10 things you can do to temporarily reduce and manage migraine pain on your way to healing for good.
Ease Migraine Pain
While your ultimate goal is to eliminate migraines altogether, there are a few tricks that can help you manage migraine pain in the meantime.
1. Adjust Your Environment
Many people find that bright lights or loud noises make their migraines worse. If possible, retreat to a dark, quiet room where you can relax. Most find that their migraines improve in severity within 30 minutes of going to a dark, comfortable space.
While some people do best with total silence, some find that listening to soft music or an audiobook helps relax and distract them from the pain.
2. Stay Hydrated
Dehydration is a common trigger for migraines and headaches in general. Make sure you’re getting plenty of water and electrolytes throughout the day.
If you’re spending more time in the sun, exercising heavily, or working outdoors, this is especially important.
3. Use a Warm or Cool Compress
Placing a warm or cool compress around the neck or across the forehead can help ease your migraine pain. Cool temperatures can help numb the pain and even distract your brain from it.
Warm temperatures, either with a compress or by taking a hot bath or shower, can help relax the surrounding muscles and increase blood flow to the brain.
It’s worth trying both options to see which works best for you. Sometimes a combination of both is needed.
4. Regular Massage or Acupuncture
Depending on the cause of your migraines, massage and acupuncture have been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines in many women. Both increase circulation, release tension in the body, destress, and relax muscles.
You can even massage your own temples and the tissue between your thumb and pointer finger when you feel a migraine coming on. Although if your skin becomes extremely sensitive to touch during a migraine, this might not be your best bet.
Stress can cause imbalances in our hormone and gut health, make us lose sleep, and cause us to fall back into not-so-healthy habits. All of these contribute to migraines.
Make sure you take time each day to relax and reflect. Practice self-care often and make sure you’re staying nourished both physically and emotionally.
6. Use Appropriate Essential Oils
Lavender is found to be especially beneficial to migraine sufferers. Not only does its relaxing effect against stress and anxiety help, but one study showed that inhaling the scent of lavender oil for 15 minutes improved the severity of migraines.
Other essential oils that could help with migraines and nausea caused by migraines include:
Artificial fragrances can worsen migraines, so avoid scented candles and only
buy oils from reputable sources. Even if the oils are pure and generally deemed safe, it’s
always best to proceed with caution as everyone reacts differently.
7. Drink Caffeine
Small amounts of caffeine have been shown to relieve migraine pain just as well as common NSAIDs such as Aleve. Caffeine opens up the blood vessels and increases circulation, thus relieving migraine pain.
For some, caffeine can be a migraine trigger, so if you are sensitive to caffeine, it’s best to avoid it altogether.
However, if you tolerate caffeine, a small amount found in organic coffee or green or black tea could help. Just be careful not to overdo it, as caffeine can also dehydrate you or cause withdrawal headaches.
8. Avoid Food Triggers
When it comes to food triggers and sensitivities, everyone is different. If you suspect a specific food is causing your migraines or making them worse, try eliminating it from your diet temporarily to see if symptoms get better.
Common triggers to migraines include:
- Aged cheese
- Caffeine (for some it’s a trigger, and others it’s a help)
- Food or drinks containing sulfates or nitrates
- The food additive MSG
9. Exercise Regularly
It’s not recommended to work out when you feel a migraine coming on as it could increase pain and be dangerous, especially if you experience auras with your migraines.
However, exercising between attacks improves inflammation and cardiovascular health, both of which can contribute to the severity of migraines.
10. Keep a Journal
Keeping a daily journal can help you destress and balance the hormones that contribute to intense migraines. It can also help you identify what’s stressing you in life and help you manage it better.
Additionally, a journal is essential to tracking food or drinks that might trigger your migraines.
You Don’t Have to Live With Migraines
While these tips are great for minimizing migraine pain, they won’t necessarily address the underlying problem. But don’t give up hope.
The best place to start is to get the proper lab testing. Whether the underlying cause directly relates to your diet, hormones, gut health, or something else, I can pair you up with the testing that’s best for you.
Learn more about the lab testing I offer and the personalized programs that will help you say “goodbye” to migraines for good.
Or book a call with me to see how I can help