7 ways to manage chronic migraines
Migraines can be excruciating, causing intense throbbing head pain, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and vision problems. It can be unbearable to move, speak or even sleep. To help manage the severe pain of chronic migraine attacks, neurologist and pain medicine specialist Sankeerth Challagundla, MD, offered some advice.
“There are plenty of things that are out of our control, like weather changes that tend to lead to a headache, but there are many things that we can do to prevent or manage migraine,” Dr. Challagundla said. “The most important being lifestyle changes.”
Here are seven lifestyle changes you can focus on to reduce your migraines:
- Get consistent sleep. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule can help manage migraines. It is best to keep your bedtime and the number of hours of sleep you get each night the same. Try to get at least 7.5 to eight hours of sleep a night. Good sleep hygiene is very important.
- Exercise regularly. For some people, exercise may trigger a migraine attack or make the attack worse, but, generally, 30 to 50 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity three to five times a week is helpful.
- Eat well and hydrate. Eating regular meals throughout the day, being hydrated, avoiding fasting and avoiding food that can trigger a migraine attack, like red wine and caffeine, is helpful in treating or managing migraines. Drink plenty of water – approximately eight 8-ounce glasses a day.
- Keep a headache diary. Tracking the headaches, how often they occur or what triggers them, can help you avoid those triggers.
- Manage stress. We all experience ups and downs throughout the day. Managing stress is a crucial part of managing migraines because stress can trigger or worsen migraine attacks. Find activities that can decrease your stress and limit things that tend to increase your stress.
- Adjust your environment. Making modifications at home or work, like decreasing the amount of bright light and removing fluorescent lighting, can sometimes help. You can also try using sunglasses or FL-41 glasses when you’re out, which can help with light sensitivity.
- Avoid taking too much over-the-counter medication. This is an important but not widely discussed problem. Taking OTC migraine meds two to three times per week is okay. Taking them every day can cause medication overuse headaches, so restricting them to twice per week is best.
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