Helpful Tips For Migraine Sufferers
Physicians who specialize in pain management treat a lot of people with migraine headaches. Migraine treatment is very complicated because they are often difficult to diagnose and predict. Those who suffer from migraines know they can be extremely painful to endure. Is it possible to plan a strategy to successfully cope with them?
Tension headaches versus migraines
Not all headaches are migraines, and all migraines are not severe. The simple definition of a migraine is a “one-sided” headache – a headache that affects only one side of the head or the top of the head.
Headaches that affect both temples or both the front and back of the head are more likely due to tension, sinus infection, TMJ disorder or other cause.
This is where it gets a little controversial: To many people, the term migraine usually means a very severe and painful headache. In reality, though, migraine actually refers to the location and possibly the type of headache, and has nothing to do with severity. Some people who have migraines experience absolutely no pain, just visual symptoms. In contrast, other people with severe tension headaches require hospitalization.
- Tension headaches are caused by tension – an imbalance in muscles, bones and other tissues that protect your nerves. When these structures become imbalanced they “pinch” nerves and cause severe pain.
- Migraines are caused by very common triggers or no trigger at all (that we know of). They may last for a few hours or a few days. They may pulse, throb, pound, pinch or cause a relentless stabbing pain at a certain location (or, as stated earlier, they may inflict no pain whatsoever).
What causes migraines?
People suffering from migraines may experience:
- A visual disturbance called an aura
- Sensitivity to light, smells and heat
- A desire for cool, dark, quiet places to rest.
The appearance of the visual aura before the headache has led many to conclude that migraines are vascular in nature. It may be that parts of different blood vessels spasm in a certain region of the brain and those sections of the blood vessels beyond the spasm dilate to an unusually large size, causing the migraine.
Some physicians look at the brain waves of the migraine sufferer and see activity very similar to that of someone having a seizure. This is followed by a wave of electrical impulses known as “spreading neuronal depression.” The entire course of this headache may be 36 hours as the wave slowly spreads through every corner of the brain.
The third suspected cause of migraines is the cycle of inflammation. It seems that the immune cells of the brain are also responsible for maintaining the structure and shape of the brain. These are called glial cells (glia is Latin for glue). Glial cells are made from stem cells that also make immune complexes in the abdomen.
When abdominal immune cells inflame, they prompt the brain’s immune cells to inflame at the same time. This explains why certain foods, beverages, infections and even hormones can trigger migraines: All of these substances trigger inflammation in the immune cells of the abdomen, and consequently in the brain, as well.
If you have migraines,
Keep a migraine diary. This will help you track the regularity of migraines (more migraines occur on Monday than any other day!). It will also help you determine if certain things are triggering migraines, such as specific foods, hormonal cycles or allergies. In time, you can become familiar with – and avoid – your migraine triggers.
Some people have no perceptible pattern at all, and that is valuable information as well. Migraines without predictable triggers may actually come from incidental exposure to bad bacteria which create infection and inflammation in the gut and brain. In these cases of migraines with no set pattern, use probiotics – such as TriVita’s FloraVita™ - to build up your resistance to bad bacteria, and
Vascular migraines usually respond well to Omega-3 essential fatty acids. OmegaPrime is a good source of Omega oils. It may take six grams or more of Omega-3 to break the cycle of vascular inflammation. Folic acid can help with this as well.
Hormone-triggered migraines may respond to dong quai, black cohosh or isoflavones. This explains why many of the women who take
Balanced Woman and TriVita’s Bone Growth Factor for their hot flashes also find relief from their hormone-related migraines, because these two supplements are rich sources of these key nutrients.
For migraines that are not hormonal nor strictly vascular, the brain-antioxidant CoQ -10 often works well. CoQ-10 is an enzyme that is easily exhausted by stress, poor food choices, fatigue and toxins of various sorts. It may take several hundred milligrams of CoQ-10 to break the cycle of migraine. But, for people that are disabled by migraine pain, CoQ-10 may bring welcomed relief. Take 100 mg. of CoQ-10 four times daily, during the early symptoms and headache. Take CoQ-10 daily (best at bedtime) for help with migraine protection.