How To Deal With Migraine Headache? Causes, Symptoms and Possible FixesLuke Coutinho
Migraine headache is a neurological condition that can cause multiple symptoms. It is commonly known as an intense, painful, and debilitating headache. An excruciating pain that can last anywhere between four hours to even days.
Migraine Headaches: Causes & Symptoms
It can be preceded or accompanied by sensory warning signs such as:
- Flashes of light
- Blind spots
- Tingling in the arms and legs
- Heightened sensitivity to light and sound
There are different kinds of migraine. One of them is called migraine with aura. These are one-sided and preceded by sensory disturbances – confusing thoughts, zig-zag lines flashing before the eyes, difficulty speaking, and pins and needles in extremities.
Migraine Signs and Symptoms
The pre-headache stage is the warning phase of an upcoming migraine episode.
Here are some migraine signs or migraine symptoms to look out for:
- Feeling thirsty
- Difficulty in concentration, and so on.
It can last approximately 24 hours before turning into a full-fledged migraine.
Migraines plague millions of people – children as well as adults. You may need to get this medically assessed to be on the lookout for other correlating symptoms and take the required course of treatment. Do not ignore these migraine signs. Pay attention to them.
When it comes to migraine signs and pain, one warning to you is to avoid an overdependence on painkillers.
I am not here to say that you need to bear the discomfort, but you need to understand whenever there is a symptom in your body, you need to narrow down and address the underlying root cause.
When you pop painkillers, you damage your gut lining and put excess stress on your kidney and liver. After a while, you will become resistant to them, and painkillers stop working for you. So address your migraine symptoms at their root.
The underlying causes of migraine
Migraines are multifactorial. But some triggers or causes of migraine include:
We have observed this among our patients that a magnesium deficiency can also be one of the causes of migraine. By only correcting their magnesium levels, their migraines and their frequencies and intensity tend to reduce. Check your magnesium levels.
Migraines are a neurological condition. When the nerve function is compromised, neurotransmission gets impaired. Magnesium plays a crucial role in neurotransmission.
Add magnesium-rich foods to your regular meals – spinach and other green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, raw cacao nibs, almonds, almond milk, almond butter, and so on.
Some cases may require supplementation. Do this under the guidance of your health professional or nutritionist as per your requirements and health conditions. Do not self-prescribe supplements.
An overdose of magnesium can cause increased headaches, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, loss of appetite, muscle weakness, lowering of blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat.
Vitamin D levels
Vitamin D aids the absorption of magnesium. You might want to check for a deficiency of Vitamin D if you get headaches. Yes, it is one of the possible causes of migraine. Vitamin D needs to be supplemented alongside magnesium for the best results. Do this under the supervision of an expert.
In most cases, if you have persistent migraines, your doctor or integrative healthcare expert will advise you to get a food and tolerance test. If any foods trigger your migraine, simply eliminating them can help reduce the frequency and intensity.
If you are constantly stressed, your arteries and blood vessels constrict – thus making it more difficult for blood to flow through. This constriction of your blood vessel in the brain can be one of the causes of migraine pain. Meditate, exercise, find hobbies, and learn to accept and let go to overcome stressors.
Sensitivity to light and noises
Exposure to strong stimuli such as bright lights, loud noises, long periods of screen exposure, or strong smells can also trigger migraine. Some people have sensitivity to weather changes or sunlight. Check that as well and take the necessary steps.
Many women experience enhanced migraines close to periods or mid-cycle during ovulation. When there is a drop in estrogen, the migraines tend to increase. If you have a period-induced migraine, it is a sign of a hormonal imbalance. Yes, this can also be one of your migraine causes. So, look at correcting it.
Check your thyroid function if you constantly have migraine headaches. Your thyroid gland also plays a huge role in your migraines. Any issues with the thyroid gland functioning point to a hormonal imbalance that needs correction.
Vitamin B12 levels
Check your Vitamin B12 levels. It helps regulate neurological functions. Its deficiency can lead to migraine headaches.
Work on your gut health to maintain the B12 levels. Why? Vitamin B12 is readily absorbed in the last part of the small intestine (ileum) which leads to the large intestine. However, to ensure this absorption, the vitamin must combine with the intrinsic factor, a protein produced in the stomach.
Sources of B12 include fermented foods like idli/dosa batter, pickled vegetables, curd, whole eggs, meat, and so on.
When you have constant constipation, there is a huge possibility that you may experience migraine headache. When you are constipated, the body holds on to a lot of estrogen and waste for long periods which can cause a toxin overload and increased acidity. Once you resolve constipation, the frequency and intensity of your migraines will reduce. Find 5 ways to ease constipation naturally here.
Yes, when you consume excess sodium like MSG, packaged, junk, and ultra-processed foods, your sodium levels can spike and in turn cause migraine headaches.
Eating acidic foods like red wines, aged cheese, and preservatives used in smoked meats such as nitrates, monosodium glutamate, artificial sweeteners, chocolates, dairy products, and so on can also cause migraine headaches.
Poor gut health
People with poor gut health tend to get migraine headaches because the gut plays a crucial role in regulating hormonal balance, detoxification/cleansing, and so on.
Studies suggest that oversleeping can lead to serotonin disruption in the brain and, in turn, cause migraine headaches. Serotonin also helps maintain your circadian rhythm or natural sleep-wake cycle that carries out various bodily processes.
Overconsumption of alcohol
Binge-drinking alcohol can also cause migraine headache.
Lack of hydration
It can lead to acidity and improper bowel movements. It makes it difficult for the body to flush out waste products and creates a toxin overload leading to migraines.
Some types of oral contraceptives or birth control pills can trigger migraine too. Migraines with aura can be triggered by high levels of estrogen or birth control with a high potency of estrogen.
Longer meal gaps or skipping meals
These can trigger acidity and in turn migraines.
Lifestyle changes that play a role in reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines:
Dealing with migraines? Here are some important lifestyle changes that you can make:
- Maintaining a diary to note down when you get a headache can be helpful. Not every person who gets a migraine will experience a headache when exposed to the same triggers. Maintaining a record can help you identify individual factors which lead to migraine. Whether it is a particular food or lack of sleep or if you have been out in the sun and help you decide the line of treatment.
- Light-intensity cardiovascular exercises daily can help to reduce headaches. Aerobic exercises for at least 30 minutes 3 to 4 times a week minimum may help.
- Sudden intense exercise can trigger headaches. Ensure you start slowly and gradually increase the exercise intensity. Warm-ups and cooldowns are crucial.
- Yoga postures that can help include:
- Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Bend)
- Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
- Balasana (Child Pose)
- Viparita Karani
- Supta Baddha Konasana (Lying down Butterfly Pose)
- Matsyendrasana (Seated Spinal Twist)
- Marjariasana (Cat Stretch)
- Paschimottanasana (Two-legged Forward Bend)
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
- Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
- Deep diaphragmatic breathing is very effective in preventing migraine. Practicing Pranayama like Kapalabhati, Anulom Vilom, and Jal Neti Kriya can help too.
- Meditation and guided imagery all help to maintain mind and body homeostasis.
- Irregular sleep patterns that result in lack of sleep, overthinking and extended exposure to gadgets can all be responsible for triggering an attack. Maintain a regular sleep pattern. Sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time. Create a consistent daily routine.
- Eat meals at regular intervals. Avoid having too big/heavy meals. Avoid skipping meals and eating late at night.
- Increased exposure to direct harsh sunlight causes migraine. Wear glasses, scarves, and caps while heading out to prevent a migraine attack.
- Essential oils help change pain perception and encourage relaxation. Mix 2-3 drops of lavender, ginger, or peppermint essential oil in a carrier oil such as pure cold-pressed coconut oil. Massage the temples with this to reduce pain.
- Steam inhalation with a few drops of these oils added to hot water for 5 minutes can also help relieve headaches.
Other home remedies:
What are some other ways of dealing with migraines? Find out.
- One of the best remedies we have seen work for our clients is this. Take 3 to 4 peppercorns, soak them in water for about 4 to 5 hours and then gently bite into them. Then swallow it with water. You can also eat it with food. It will provide relief within 15 to 20 minutes. Do it if it suits you. Again, just because it works for most people, it doesn’t have to work for you. Avoid doing this peppercorn protocol if you have ulcers, peppercorns make you acidic, or you have H pylori.
- Keep cotton balls dipped in rose water or a towel containing ice cubes on the eyes for relief.
- Consuming 8 to 10 tulsi leaves helps.
- Chamomile tea has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and soothing properties that help relieve migraines. Regularly drinking 1-2 cups of chamomile tea can help prevent the problem.
- Cayenne pepper stimulates blood circulation and improves blood flow. It also contains capsaicin, a compound that works as a natural painkiller. Mixing 1/4th tsp with a cup of plain or lemon water and drinking it helps to relieve headaches.
- Ginger is known to block prostaglandins which are chemical compounds that promote muscle contractions, impact hormones, and regulate inflammation in the blood vessels in the brain. Chewing on a sliced piece of ginger or drinking ginger tea helps to curb the pain.
- Fruits like pineapple and papaya contain enzymes such as bromelain and papain. These enzymes help to aid digestion to fix digestive issues like acidity, bloating, and indigestion. They also help reduce inflammation in the body and thereby relieve migraine pain.
- Maintain your body’s alkalinity. Try deep breathing to oxygenate the cells and alkaline foods and beverages. Cut out highly processed and refined foods and avoid overconsuming tea and coffee.
The bottom line
Migraines are often triggered by various factors, and understanding the migraine causes can help you manage and prevent these debilitating headaches better. Like we discussed one of the common migraine causes is stress, as heightened levels of stress can lead to muscle tension and trigger a migraine episode. So, apart from paying attention to other aspects of your lifestyle, learn to navigate your emotions and stress better. By identifying and addressing your migraine causes, you can take proactive steps to minimize their frequency and severity, leading to improved quality of life and reduced migraine-related discomfort.
Lifestyle changes with proper meal patterns, sleeping hours, adequate water intake, correct eating habits, a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day, and meditation are simple changes you can start making today to deal with migraines and migraine symptoms. What are you waiting for?
Tell me how these tips worked for you. Share this with those who need it.
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