Tag Archives: Migraine triggers

Can you treat a migraine without pain medicine?

migraine, headache, medicine, painIf you have ever had a migraine headache, you know the pain is so intense that a trip to the hospital may be in store.  In this case, the ER staff may use an opioid  pain medicine as a first resort. However, a recent study has shown that this commonly used drug, also known for its addictive qualities, may not be the best choice for migraine relief.

What is a migraine?

A migraine headache involves a throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head, usually along with other symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light are some of the most common symptoms of such headaches. Pain can occur for hours, or even days, and warning symptoms such as  constipation, mood changes, neck stiffness, increased thirst, or frequent yawning may precede a migraine.  In rare cases, right before a migraine you may get aura symptoms such as flashes of light or blind spots.  In the 24 hours after, you may have symptoms such as confusion, moodiness, dizziness, and weakness.

Aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine may be used for treatment of most migraines. More severe cases may require medications such as Triptan or Ergot, which help constrict blood vessels and block pain pathways.  However, opioids are used if a person cannot tolerate such medicines.

Migraine Relief Research

A recent study in the journal Neurology looked at 127 patients who had at least trips to the New York emergency department for migraine headaches.  Half of the patients received the opioid hydromorphone and the other half received an IV of the dopamine-releasing drug prochlorperazine.

After 48 hours of treatment, sixty-percent of people from the prochlorperazine group versus thirty-percent of the hydromorphone group felt relief.  In addition, the prochlorperazine group was 30-percent less likely to ask for more pain medicine after treatment than the opioid group (6-percent versus 36-percent).  This study suggests that anti-dopaminergic drugs may provide more relief to migraine headache sufferers than opioids. However, you should be sure to talk with your healthcare provider to find the best treatment for you.

Natural Ways to Relieve Migraine Pain

  • Learn to cope (LTC) : This treatment gradually exposes patients to headache triggers to help them become desensitized to such triggers.
  • Practice consistent overall wellness: Be sure to get a good night’s sleep of at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night and eat healthy, balanced meals every day. Also, be sure to find healthy ways to manage stress such as doing yoga, engaging in relaxation breathing, or taking a walk daily.
  • Stay active: Regular exercise can help not only manage stress, but can also prevent migraines.  Exercise reduces such headaches by reducing tension in the body. Furthermore, staying active can help reduce body weight.  Since obesity is thought to be a risk factor for migraine headaches, weight loss could reduce such risk.
  • Other medicinal treatments: Cardiovascular or anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, and Botox may be prescribed to help prevent migraine headaches. However, for the more natural route, reach for Migravent by Vita Sciences.  Migravent contains natural ingredients such as PA-free butterbur, CoQ10, magnesium,  and riboflavin. This formula has been found to help prevent migraines and support reduced frequency of such headaches and related symptoms.

Disclaimer: Please be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new medication.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Mayo Clinic (April 26, 2017) “Migraine”

Medline Plus (October 18, 2017) “Skip Opioid Treatment for Migraine in the ER”

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Vertigo and Dizziness with Migraines

Experiencing vertigo and dizziness with migraines? Migraines affect millions of Americans with crushing headaches and other devastating ailments that make it difficult to work or function normally.

Migraine headache and vertigo dizziness

Vertigo and Dizziness with Migraines Headaches

Migrainous vertigo, a vestibular disorder causing dizziness, nausea, and balance problems strikes a large percentage of migraine patients.

Migraine associated vertigo (MAV)

Though it’s not always accepted as an indicator of migraine illness, dizziness and vertigo are common vascular side effects that occur often in people with a history of migraine attacks. Many doctors use a patient’s headache frequency as the measuring stick of chronic migraines, not taking into account other comorbid conditions that occur even without the prevalence of strong head pain.

Vertigo associated with migraines can point to a deeper underlying problem that requires medical attention, or at least signify the need for a change in migraine treatment.

Vestibular migraine

Nearly 35% of migraine sufferers experience vestibular disturbances such as dizziness, vertigo, and other balance issues. Scientists have seen high correlations between migraine disorder and a variety of illnesses that cause wooziness, unsteadiness, light-headed sensations, and confusion.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and Ménière’s disease are examples of vestibular dysfunctions that occur often in people with chronic or episodic migraines.

Vertigo symptoms

Symptoms of vestibular disorders that may occur with migraine include:

  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo- a sensation that the room is spinning, similar to intoxication, even while lying, sitting, or standing still
  • Sensitivity to movement of the head
  • Motion sickness
  • Extreme sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises
  • Vision problems
  • Difficulty keeping balance, disequilibrium
  • Tinnitus or Ménière’s disease- ear ringing, headaches, ear fullness
  • Neck pain and muscle spasms
  • Confusion
  • Loss of spatial awareness
  • Anxiety

Testing and treatment

If you experience vertigo or dizziness before, during, or after a migraine attack, then speak to a physician immediately. He may want to order diagnostic tests to rule out stroke, concussion, or brain tumor.

For help, your doctor may recommend a visit to a neurologist, osteopath, or vestibular rehabilitation therapists.

Lifestyle modifications can help improve your tolerance for pain and help with migraine management. These include light exercise, meditation, reducing migraine triggers in diet, and supplementing with vitamins, minerals, and herbs that benefit migraine-specific neurological functioning.

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If you suffer from migraine, do you also experience severe dizziness, even without headaches?

What helps to relieve dizziness and nausea?

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Is it Migraine or Tension Headache? Comparison Chart

Do you always know if you’re experiencing migraine or tension headache symptoms? Both can occur from extreme stress and fatigue. To prevent rebound headache and find the best treatment possible, it’s important to know exactly what’s causing your headache to begin with. Here is a handy chart to help you learn different symptoms and treatments for migraine and tension headaches.

Is it Migraine or Tension Headache? Comparison Chart

Migraine or Tension Headache: Quick reference

  • Migraines are a neurological disorder causing a vast array of symptoms, including debilitating head pain that last for hours, sometimes days. In addition, sufferers experience tiredness, nausea, stomach pain, dizziness, and the need to vomit.
  • Tension headaches are primarily caused by stress and fatigue. Headaches from tense muscles are much easier to treat than migraines, as they respond to medication much better.

Head pain type

Tension headache: Dull pressure, the sensation of a band strapped tightly across the head or neck. Pain is mild or moderate.

Migraine: Throbbing, intense pounding on one side of the head, often at the temple or eye areas. Pain is moderate to extreme, making it difficult to concentrate or think about anything else.

Location of head pain

Tension headache: Scalp, forehead, neck, temples.

Migraine: Temples, eyes.

Pain duration

Tension headache: Pain increases and subsides over the course of the day, or for several days.

Migraine: Headache comes on strong, stays intense for hours. For people with chronic migraines, headaches return repeatedly- more than 15 times per month.

Comorbid symptoms

Tension headache: Insomnia, neck stiffness, stress.

Migraine: Sensitivity to lights (photophobia), scents, and noise; nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, vertigo, distorted speech, partial paralysis, feebleness, loss of consciousness, visual distortions.

Headache triggers

Tension headache triggers: Stress, tiredness, bad posture, eye strain, hunger.

Migraine headache triggers: Food ingredients, scents, noise, bright lights, weather, allergies, air pressure, stress, tension headaches, hunger, irregular sleep patterns, dehydration, cigarette smoke, hormonal fluctuations.

Warning signs

Tension headache: None.

Migraine (with aura): Prodrome phase that occurs hours before, causing symptoms such as euphoria, olfactory hallucinations, unusual cravings, and edginess. Minutes before, some migraineurs experience aura- strange visual disturbances and stroke-like symptoms.

Migraine Aura and Prodrome- What’s the Difference?

Prevalence

Most headache sufferers- from tension type and migraine combined- are female.

Treatment

Tension headache: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually sufficient to get rid of a tension headache, although it may take a few days.

Migraine: There are many different types of migraines, so only your doctor can prescribe the best possible course of treatment for symptoms of migraine attacks.

There is no cure for migraine illness, but by using daily migraine preventative treatments, many are able to thwart off the majority of migraine headaches and symptoms of nausea, dizziness, and fatigue.

Popular natural herbs and vitamins for migraine help include PA-free butterbur root, magnesium, riboflavin, and coenzyme Q10. Find them here.

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What Works for Migraines? New Study

In a recent study, patients tell researchers what works for migraines, comparing prescription migraine drugs with natural, alternative vitamins and lifestyle changes. The results may surprise you.

What works for Migraines

Migraines are a neurological illness that inflicts sufferers with frequent crippling headaches, nausea, stomach cramps, vertigo, and all-over body pain. Doctors have been working on a “cure” for years, but it seems that some of the most effective treatments that help don’t require a prescription at all.

What works for migraines?

Disclaimer: Please don’t ever consider stopping your current migraine medication or starting a new one without your doctor’s consent. This does not constitute medical advice, but rather a general awareness of what researchers have discovered when interviewing patients of chronic migraine attacks.

Eighty percent choose natural therapy.

Results are based on a survey by Cure Together that is available online.

Of the top ten best-rated treatments for migraine headaches, only two are migraine prescription medications; that’s an 80% success rate for natural preventative medicine and migraine trigger avoidance.

Top 10 list

1. Sitting in a dark, quiet room.
2. Taking a nap.
3. Avoiding red wine.
4. Waiting it out.
5. Eliminating MSG.
6. Avoiding smoke or quitting smoking.
7. Wearing sunglasses, even indoors.
8. Intravenous dihydroergotamine Injection (DHE)
9. Imitrex (sumatriptan) injection
10. Pressing an ice pack or cool towel on head or neck.

Popularity vs. effectiveness

Interestingly enough, some of the most effective treatments for migraine headaches are also the least practiced. According to the infographic on Cure Together, the most oft-prescribed migraine drugs are rated by patients as the least helpful in relieving migraines. Conversely, natural migraine strategies that work, such as lifestyle changes and nutrients such as butterbur, riboflavin, CoQ10, and magnesium seem to be the least prescribed and the bottom of the go-to list for migraine prevention.

Is it any wonder, then, that so many people continue to suffer from excruciating migraine attacks?

Natural vitamins, herbs, and other nutrients

Out of all the treatments rated in this survey, the one that got the best response- lying down in a quiet room- garnered 893 points. Using that number as a guideline, you can see that vitamin supplements for migraines get a huge thumbs-up for simple effectiveness without side effects.

  • Magnesium- 556
  • Vitamin B2- 380
  • Coenzyme Q10- 296
  • Vitamin B12- 247
  • Vitamin D3- 130
  • Butterbur-  115
  • Vitamin B6- 106

Hint: Migravent has all of the top-rated ingredients!

Migravent for Migraines

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What treatment do you believe works for migraines better than anything else?

Did you like this article? Please tweet, blog, or share this on Facebook with anybody who suffers from migraines or is otherwise involved with migraine awareness. Feel free to leave your comments below.

 Image by Stuart Miles

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Migraine Triggers in Food that will Surprise You

The single most important preventative treatment for migraine headaches is to simply avoid all migraine triggers that affect your nervous system. Easier said than done, you may say, as there are hundreds of things in food, weather, and daily life that increase your chances of having a migraine attack.

Migraine Triggers in Food that will Surprise You

Can you spot the migraine triggers here?

What’s in a migraine?

Migraines are a neurological disorder that is often inherited from your family. Most migraine sufferers are women, but not exclusively. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to, excruciating pounding headaches, stomach pain, nausea, eye pain, vertigo, and overwhelming fatigue. Chronic headaches happen more than 15 times each month.

It’s worth noting that not all migraine attacks include headache. You may experience all the other symptoms of migraine, such as dizziness, stomach cramps, and extreme sensitivity to bright lights and strong scents without ever suffering from head pain. Even “silent migraines” can be very debilitating, especially as they are often connected with migraines with aura, a condition that scientists have linked with increased risk for stroke, heart disease, and epileptic seizures.

Migraine triggers

Migraine triggers don’t necessarily cause migraines, as much as they increase your likeliness of having one. Just as stress lowers your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight off infections and bacteria, so do migraine triggers make it harder for your nervous system to control overstimulated, trigger-happy nerve cells of the brain.

Some of the most well-known migraine producers exist in food. Chocolate, coffee, hot dogs, aged cheeses, and MSG are all considered “red light” foods on a migraine diet. Still, every person is wired differently, so what triggers a five-alarm migraine attack in one person may actually provide significant relief to another. Caffeine, for example, is both a migraine trigger and a painkiller, depending on your migraine brain.

To find out exactly which foods are triggering your migraine headaches, it’s important to keep a migraine diary, and fill in all foods, feelings, medications, daily weather, sleep cycles, and other relevant facts.

How many of these unusual migraine triggers can you identify?

  • Leftover food from restaurants, likely to contain tyramine, a common migraine trigger.
  • Bananas- along with avocados, fruits that are eaten when very ripe also contain tyramine.
  • Citrus fruits, although healthy for preventing the common cold, are rich in citric acids that interfere with your pH blood level, and also contain histamine, a migraine trigger for some.
  • Artificial flavorings, colorings, and preservatives contain chemicals that increase your chances for frequent migraine headaches.
  • Packaged goods containing hidden monosodium glutamate (MSG) can include mixed nuts, soup mixes, sauces, and even mayonnaise. To avoid migraines, always read food labels, even on food products that you wouldn’t expect to find migraine-triggering MSG.

Scientists have compiled a list of hundreds of migraine triggers, not all of which are from food. In addition to the ones listed, can you list any other other headache triggers that you currently avoid?

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Understanding Migraine Disorder

It’s a myth that migraines are mainly really bad headaches; they’re so much more than that. Many migraineurs are surprised to learn that unusual symptoms like vision problems, vertigo, and olfactory hallucinations are linked to migraine disorder. By playing “connect-the-dots” you can come to a better understanding of how migraines work, and things you can do to prevent them.

Understanding Migraine Disorder

Migraine symptoms

Chronic migraines are attacks that occur more than 15 times per month. Symptoms can vary between patients, and may not always include headaches.

Signs of migraine attack can include the following:

  • Excruciating throbbing headache
  • Strong urge to vomit
  • Stomach cramps
  • Dizziness, vertigo
  • Weakness, fatigue
  • Visual disturbances (aura)
  • Partial numbness
  • Sensitivity to lights and noise
  • Neck pain
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Impaired spatial awareness

Migraines are neurological

Unless you’ve been to a neurologist or other migraine specialist, you may not have realized that your migraine attacks are caused by “overexcited” neurons in your nervous system.  Migraine disorder is classified as a neurological disorder that occurs when certain elements trigger migraine attacks in your brain.

A migraine trigger can be anything from a salami sandwich to a dry martini; from an intoxicating scent to a stressful day.

Although there is no universal cure for migraines, doctors are sometimes able to reduce your odds of experiencing an attack by preventing such triggers from invading your nervous system.

Trigger avoidance

When a doctor prescribes antiepileptic medicine or antidepressants for migraine headaches, it’s because he believes that the same mechanism that occurs with epilepsy or depression may be related to your migraine attacks.

Migraine trigger avoidance is an extended form of migraine prevention, as it focuses on elements in your daily life that make migraine headaches more likely to occur. There are hundreds of migraine triggers that affect migraine sufferers differently. By determining which ones are “red light” triggers, you can effectively reduce the number of migraine headaches you experience each month.

Examples of migraine triggers are foods, scents, lights, weather, hormonal changes, stress, eating habits, sleep schedules, and loud noises.

To identify your triggers, try using a migraine diary for at least a few months. Take note of things like food, mood, weather, medications, sleep, and anything else you think may be relevant.

Migraine prescriptions

Doctors recommend alleviating migraine headaches with over-the-counter medications before visiting a specialist. If NSAIDs fail to relieve migraines, then you may be able to get some help from a neurologist or headache clinic.

However, many prescription migraine drugs come at a high cost- side effects can include memory loss, addiction, dizziness, anxiety, and even…headaches.

Natural migraine supplements

Alternative, complementary nutrients are finding their way into conventional migraine practices. Doctors have seen where magnesium or vitamin B deficiency can worsen or trigger migraine frequency. Certain vitamins, minerals, and herbs help to correct vitamin deficiency while also promoting healthy neurological functioning needed to sustain day-to-day living without migraines.

In various clinical trials, doctors have found the most benefit when migraine patients take a combination of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), magnesium, coenzyme Q10, and PA-free butterbur root each day.

Summary

For migraines, the best approach is one that combines the best of conventional and natural applications.

  • Minimum painkillers, under doctor supervision
  • Preventive treatments, also under strict supervision
  • Simple lifestyle modifications
  • Relaxation and exercise
  • Supplementation of nutrients known to help migraines

Try this:

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