Migraine headaches affect around 10 percent of the world’s population, with a majority of those people being in their 20s, 30s, or 40s. Women are also more prone to having migraine headaches, and it doesn’t seem that the number is getting any lower in the future. With that said, more people are trying to figure out how to manage their migraines as there still is no cure for this debilitating condition.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t treatment options, though. While migraines can be some of the worst pain that people can experience, there are ways to alleviate the pain and practice coping strategies that will improve their quality of life. Let’s look at some of those options that you can use to help relieve and manage the pain of migraines.
While there is no cure for migraines, there are thankfully plenty of medications available to alleviate the symptoms of a migraine or even prevent them from happening as often. Some of the more common migraine medications include Triptan, Imitrex, Rizatriptan, and Zolmitriptan. Plenty of over-the-counter medications for migraine relief include acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and other NSAIDs.
Stronger prescription drugs like Imitrex and Maxalt work to plan the pain pathways in the brain, and can be taken in the form of pills or nasal sprays. Many of these drugs are taken at the first sight of symptoms, while others can be taken when symptoms are at their worst. Those who have had a migraine know that you never want to get to this point as it can be crippling, so having the right medication at the first sign is paramount.
None of us want to have a migraine, but not all of us want to take prescription pills on a daily basis or have the ability to pay for them. Because of this, many look to more natural options, and there are plenty of things that you can do to reduce the risk of a migraine. The first thing that you can do is to adjust your diet, which means avoiding nitrates that are typically found in high-fat processed meats and alcohol.
A diet that’s high in lean meat (especially fish), vegetables, and fruit will be able to reduce or prevent a lot of migraine symptoms. Making sure to incorporate regular exercise is also important, as improved cardiovascular health is directly tied to the blood flow to your brain. Adding in more relaxing activities like yoga and meditation can also be extremely beneficial, and all of these options don’t require an expensive prescription.
If you want a more holistic approach to reducing and preventing migraine symptoms, there are some options for you. There have been several major studies that have shown that acupuncture can play a big role in migraine sufferers. Dr. Albercht Molsberger conducted a study of over 4,000 patients with different acupunctural techniques. The results were positive, with Dr. Molsberger saying that “acupuncture is at least as effective as prophylactic drug therapy for migraine and it is safe, long-lasting, and cost-effective.”
Another major study found that migraine sufferers saw a 50 percent drop in headache frequency thanks to the help of acupuncture. Some of the other natural treatment options that have been reported to be beneficial include essential oils like peppermint oil, ginger to reduce migraine-related nausea, and even acupressure (a non-invasive form of acupuncture using only your fingers).
One thing that you may have heard of more in recent years than in the past is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, for short. CBT has been found to be useful for a lot of mental ailments including ADHD, depression, and addiction (including eating disorders and substance abuse), but it can also be useful in the treatment of migraines. We already mentioned that relaxing activities like yoga and meditation can help, and CBT is another way of relaxing.
Dr. Elizabeth Seng of the American Headache Society has seen just what CBT can do for migraine sufferers. “We saw large changes in headache-related disability over the course of eight weeks,” she said. “This is because we normally through about headache-related disability as something that happens because people have attacks. If you reduce the attacks, you’ll reduce the disability.”
Because of how crippling they can be, not everyone can have empathy for those who suffer from migraines. With around 90 percent of the world not having to go through that type of pain, finding someone who shares the same experience can be difficult. This means that there’s a feeling of having to go through this pain alone, but there are plenty of resources available, and migraine support groups exist.
If you live in a more urban area, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find an in-person support group where you finally have someone to speak to about your symptoms and experiences. For those in more rural areas, there are plenty of online groups including CHAMP, Migraine Again, and the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy.